Despite the difficult times we live in, Greece is still here, very much looking forward to welcoming you back soon. But until then, why not seize the opportunity afforded by the lockdown to pick up some basic Greek that’ll surely come in handy when you do come?
It will not only make life easier as you travel around the country, it will also bring you a step closer to the locals, potentially opening doors you never expected.
Most Greeks speak at least one foreign language – usually English. Even if they aren’t taught it perfectly at school (as is the case in other European countries, too), they are able to communicate – at least on a basic level. But the further you move away from the country’s big cities and more touristy destinations, the fewer people who know English and, thus, the harder it becomes to communicate. So if you plan to head off the beaten trail, a smattering of Greek can be very handy.
And it’s a fact that if you are traveling around a place and know even just a handful of phrases in the local tongue, residents view this as a sign of respect and it helps bring people closer together. The Greeks, in particular, feel a special pride and joy when someone tries to speak their language, because they know full well that it’s a difficult one, and one that’s spoken only in Greece and Cyprus, leaving few with much motivation to learn it.
In fact, if Greeks see you trying to speak their language, it’s highly likely that they’ll try to help you in your bid to improve, even teaching you a new word or two.
Where to Learn Greek Online
Arguably the best platform for learning Greek (and one of the most popular ones for learning almost any language) is Duolingo, which is also available as an app. At the moment, there are some 1.10 million online students registered to learn Greek (roughly equal to 1/10th of the population of the entire country!). The basic version of this platform is free, and you’ll find that it’s more than enough for the level of Greek you’ll need for a trip. But if you do want to delve a little deeper, the Plus version is always a good option.
At the same time, if you’re keen on both practicing, and listening to real people (and not some machine) speaking the language, you might consider subscribing to a YouTube channel called Easy Greek. There you’ll get to watch the entertaining little educational videos uploaded by Marilena and Dimitris every week.
The pair teach you something different in each little episode: From grammar, such as the use of the accusative case, to useful phrases for different situations, like how to order a coffee or how to express specific emotions. They either speak directly to the camera or converse with people they meet on the streets of Athens and all over Greece.
To make things easier for the viewer, each little video is subtitled in Greek (which helps increase familiarity with the somewhat bizarre-looking Greek alphabet) as well as in English translation or transliteration.
So, seeing how you’re pretty much stuck at home, this may very well be the ideal moment to start learning Greek!
And then, perhaps, when you find yourself not comprehending something in the future you won’t say, “It’s all Greek to me”. Instead, you’ll be able to say “It’s all Chinese to me” – just like a Greek!