Imagine you’re sitting in your living room, a course book at hand, your pen and your notebook on the other.
Tomorrow’s lesson is approaching, but today you just don’t feel like repeating vocabulary that still finds a way to slip your mind.
You daydream of a sunny day in your favourite place in Greece and you tell yourself to push some more; after all, who knows, you might actually need these words from your course book Unit.
You just want to feel the satisfaction of using what you know in a nice discussion with your Greek friends.
I get it.
Taking the leap.
Many years ago, I spent a summer learning French on my own.
I had learned French as a child and now I was somewhere around the “dreaded” pre-Intermediate / Intermediate level, where basic things were too easy, even boring, but authentic texts or the radio seemed to me so scary and incomprehensible.
You see, I was about to spend one year in France. I was eager and as motivated as can be to finish the heavy grammar book, fill in as many activities I could, note down every single word I didn’t know - and learn them. All.
While I was in France, I started a French class for International students. The idea was the same; to fill out the grammar activities, to note down, repeat and learn the vocabulary from the texts I had to read in my course book.
This time, it didn’t work. I decided to drop the class.
I went ahead and enrolled in literature and history courses for French students (and, naturally, aimed to savour every moment I’d spend in my favourite country).
Was I out of my mind for diving so deep into the language?
A bit, since I failed one of the literature classes badly and this had an impact on my grades at the end of the semester.
But looking back at it - it’s been 15 years since that time - here’s what I wanted to share with you:
I still remember the absolute miracle of realizing I could understand the assigned novel (the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and what’s more, enjoying my read and being able to talk about it. In French!
What I felt was not just joy, but happiness.
Sure, I failed to write a proper essay. Sure, it took me a very, very long time to finish that novel.
But the fact that I could recall some great new words and actually talk about a whole book that previously seemed an intimidating task for my level, this was something I never forgot.
Now - back to you:
Do you feel happiness when you learn Greek?
Do you feel you study with things and material you love?
Do you feel interested in what you read and eager to use the new words in your next conversation with a Greek or do you often yawn or even get stressed right in the middle of an exercise you feel like you “should” finish?
I’m not to say that you should ditch your course book. Of course not.
But since you’re here today, it means that you anticipate the moment where you understand what Greeks read, say or listen to.
The moment you talk with them about things that matter to you and find common topics to talk about.
The moment you make connections.
It’s true, you might feel like I did, intimidated by authentic texts (newspaper, magazines, blogs, fiction and non-fiction reads).
Maybe your perfectionism shouts at you : “Hey, you’ve been learning for (insert the number that applies to you) years now and you can’t even understand 30% of what you read!”
Maybe you glimpse at such a read and you feel afraid that you’ll lose your motivation, that next time you’ll look away, completely disheartened.
I understand how not understanding everything might be terrifying and off putting.
But, eventually, so is repeating over and over, condemning yourself not to move past your struggles.
And so is not being a bit adventurous and playful about your learning.
So, go ahead and take the leap:
Explore a new book a page at a time.
Listen to lyrics you think you’ll understand after playing the song again and again.
Follow a Greek blog and read an interesting article (more on this, in a minute!).
Because alongside your course book and dictionary, there is a whole world of language and culture awaiting for you.
And if studying Greek feels something like “I should finish all the Units in the book” (which sounds a bit like a chore) I’d like to shake things up a bit for you.
Are you ready?
Below you’ll find some popular Greek blogs ( and a few online newspapers/magazines).
There are 10 different themes:
Here’s what to do:
Click on the one that interests you the most. Find an article that you’d like to read
Pick a length that feels right for you (1 paragraph, 3 paragraphs or the whole thing)
Then, use this magic little Chrome extension, which is called Readlang. Readlang replaces nicely a dictionary when you read online. (In case you don’t use a Chrome browser, skip this section and read below).
How Readlang works:
You add it on Chrome.
You sign up for a free account (there is a paid version but here I show you how to use the free version).
You start by opening a webpage.
Then you highlight words (unlimited number) or sentences (10 per day) which you can later use as flashcards, too!
Here you can find tutorials about the extension. And below there’s a short tutorial (5 minutes) I made specifically for the Greek learners, to show you how to use it with a Greek text:
If Chrome is not the browser you use, then Google Translate will probably do the trick, but not just as nicely since there are often many mistakes.
Now, remember, this exercise is all about finding what you really enjoy reading and talking about.
Even with Readlang (or another translation tool), don’t tell yourself you should understand everything. You have the right not to.
What to do next?
After reading, comes the talking! Here’s how to make sure you don’t stop yourself at the reading part. It’s well worth it, believe me:
Record yourself talking about your opinion and your thoughts about what you’ve just read (1-3 minutes)
Note down any extra words you realized you needed to know when you did the recording (using Readlang or another translation tool)
Record yourself again using your notes if needed. The second time gives you a sense of progress, as you immediately use what you just learned. What do you think? How was it?
Share with me and other like-minded Greek language enthusiasts your experience in our small and friendly community. I can’t wait to hear all about it and give you some more ideas. (optional, but highly recommended!)