Greek is the language to learn: the classic voice of culture, empire, and the Western world. If it weren’t for Greek, Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs would remain a mystery and Mediterranean cuisine would have to look elsewhere for olive oil, wine, and feta cheese. Greek served as the basis for independence from the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century and has continued the legacy of its predecessor into the 21st century. So why not embrace the old and the new by doing Greek language study?
Popular Locations to Learn Greek Abroad
While Greece is the obvious choice when it comes to studying Greek abroad, there are several countries around the world that have large Greek speaking populations. Whether you want to drink ouzo under the shadow of the Acropolis in Athens, share meze plates in Cyprus, or learn the art of the perfect gyro in New York City, Greek language study is meant to be on location.
Greece. With the majority of the Greek-speaking community living in Greece, learning Greek language basics in this Mediterranean gem is nothing short of a daily symposium. Athens still serves as the hub of Greek life, with the Parthenon overlooking the city as it has for thousands of years. Hanging out next to Mount Olympus, Thessaloniki is the culture crossroads of the civilizations that have ruled the area. Aside from the mainland, Greece is home to 6,000 islands. While some islands, like Crete, are home to several towns and villages, the majority of the islands remain uninhabited. Straying away from touristic areas guarantees plenty more Greek language immersion, so don't be afraid to hop into a couple of unnamed boats and get off the grid.
Cyprus. Nestled in the east of Greece, this island nation offers the chance to study in an area where language and culture determine the fate of a nation. Centuries of war, occupation, and suppression have left the island divided on ethnic lines: its southern half is an independent nation that holds to its Greek heritage, while the North remains occupied by Turkish powers. Much like Berlin during the Cold War, the capital of Nicosia is divided between the two factions, and serves as the capital for both nations. If political tensions aren’t that enticing, the Southeastern city of Larnaca offers a more scenic place to learn Greek. After days in class, the city is home to luscious palm trees, the home of fasolaki, a bean dish served with lamb, and over 3,000 sarcophagi.
Types of Greek Language Programs
Doing Greek language study while studying abroad can be done in many ways and in many places. Whether in a quiet classroom or a large university with students from all over the world, there are opportunities out there to fit your needs.
University Courses. The traditional way to learn Greek abroad is through a university. By enrolling in a university, language students have the option to take several courses and create a full understanding of both the language and culture of their Greek-speaking area. Intensive programs include grammar classes, art, history, politics, and humanities classes taught in Greek. This variety of courses helps students learn Greek through many contexts, creating a balanced understanding of the language.
Language Schools. There are several private language schools dedicated to teaching Greek. The focused curriculum, more flexible schedules, and sometimes cheaper cost make them the natural fit for students who aren’t looking for the university experience. Greek language schools help students learn the language as quickly as possible; packaged programs include cultural excursions, historic tours, and other extracurricular activities.
Private Tutors. Language tutors will most likely be native speakers of Greek, or at least be able to communicate in Greek with high fluency. Universities and language schools could have tutors on staff to assist you. Advantages of private tutors include personalized learning tempos, focus in specialized interests, and plenty of one-on-one.
Tips for Gaining Greek Fluency
The progress made in studying Greek abroad will not be in a straight line. Even if you have more than one language under your belt; the old adage of patience, practice, and hard work are needed to gain fluency. Before long, you’ll graduate from deciphering Greek fraternities to reciting Homer. With that, here are some tips to help in your pursuit of fluency:
Learn the Greek alphabet. For you Latin alphabet users, learning the Greek alphabet is critical in making any progress towards fluency. The alphabet serves as the foundation of the written and phonetic aspects of Greek. The more time focused here in the beginning, the greater more epic your success sage will be.
Practice, practice, practice. Language doesn’t end in the classroom. Try to incorporate as much Freek into your daily life as possible: watch the news, read newspapers, create post-it signs, chat with locals, make Greek-speaking friends, live with a host family, change the language settings on your Facebook profile, and use every chance you get to practice new vocabulary.
Make mistakes. New languages speakers tend to be shy because they are afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be shy. T Many native speakers appreciate foreigners who take the time to learn Greek. Sometimes the only way to learn the right way to speak or write is to see the errors made, so make mistakes, learn from them, and soar in your language levels.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Depending on the type of Greek courses you choose and the goals in taking your Greek language learning abroad, there are both benefits and challenges that you’ll encounter. Learning a new language abroad is not always easy, but the rewards are well worth any challenges you may face.
Foreign letters. While not being the most difficult language to learn, Greek has enough challenges to have you studying often. Unlike Romance languages, Greek is not closely related to English. You will have to put in more study time to pick up on the differences Greek has and to have a firm grasp on the alphabet.
Heritage. Greek was the language of the ancient world. Despite the dominance of Latin in Western Europe, Greek remained an integral language to the Roman Empire, with most people being fluent in both. Most classical works were written in Greek. The modern language has served as defiance over Turkish occupation, and the tumultuous decades since independence. To learn Greek is connect with history. Greek not only serves as a global language, but it also serves as the foundation of many Eastern European languages. A whole new region can be open for your exploration just by learning Greek.
Greek is a language of culture, defiance, and history. Learning the Greek language will take you far beyond grammar; it will show you that some parts of us remain timeless. Smash a plate and say opa to learning Greek abroad!