3 - Learning Tips

Why learning vocabulary through authentic texts transforms your learning - plus 10 Greek blogs to follow and enjoy

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 sigh.

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.

Another sigh.

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:

  1. Travel

  2. Nutrition & Recipes

  3. History Facts

  4. Books

  5. Music & Concerts

  6. Sports

  7. Politics

  8. Greek language

  9. Nature & Environment

  10. Healthy living

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:

The blog post used in this tutorial is written by Maria Kofou and you can find it here: Δύο ημέρες στη Μπολόνια - Enjoy!

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:

  1. Record yourself talking about your opinion and your thoughts about what you’ve just read (1-3 minutes)

  2. Note down any extra words you realized you needed to know when you did the recording (using Readlang or another translation tool)

  3. 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?

  4. 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!)

  5. Speak more & improve your Greek: Join Greek Recorder, the 3 - Week Online Greek Speaking Program where you learn 60 new words + phrases, speak more with the help of short speaking prompts and receive personalized feedback from me.

Did You Like This Article?

Get more of my best learning tips plus learning offers only for Greek language enthusiasts (with a bit of a sunshine, too) here:

Happy Greek learning,

~ Danae


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A New Route To Speaking Better Greek: 5 Simple And Steady Steps

I’m all for hidden gems.

Little coffee shops, bookshops in tiny alleys, a secret beach with emerald waters or a local family bakery that leads you there just by the smell of fresh baked bread.

They all have this one thing in common: Few people know about them because it’s hard to get there.

And to get there, you might assume you need a map, or think you should take the main route, otherwise it’s easy to get lost.

But, hey, do you remember the time you found a beautiful little place, far from crowds and noise?

Well, it wasn’t because you followed the main route.

It was because you were led there by curiosity, excitement and a sense of adventure.

No mistake, hidden gems want to be found this way and they will compensate you with a satisfying sense of accomplishment.

By the way, there is nothing more annoying than the person next to you who holds the map right in front of your nose and anxiously tells you: “nooo, we must go this way, this is the one and only way!”

Let’s take this analogy to language learning - because, why not?

You say to yourself:

“I want to speak Greek! How I wish there was a person sitting next to me right now, so I could practice. How I wish I were at a nice and cozy café happily chatting with a Greek. It’s just so bad I can’t practice what I learn, because I don’t have anyone to talk to”.

Okay I might have added a little Greek drama here.

While I’m sure you’d love to be at a Greek café right now and while I’m sure you do prefer to have someone to talk to in Greek, things don’t look so grim.

It’s true we often think there’s only one way to practice speaking and that is: talking with a native speaker.

Just like the person who stubbornly persists on the one and only way to get to the hidden, beautiful little place (and spoils all the fun), “traditional” learning suggests that there’s no other way around it: in order to improve your speaking, you must speak with a Greek.

What if you could do things a bit differently? What if you could take another, not so obvious way and be a bit brave and adventurous about it?

What if you could speak more Greek, even daily and express your thoughts and ideas, without a Greek speaker?

Taking another route.

A few years ago I was introduced to this idea for practicing speaking: voice recordings.

It’s so simple, really:

You basically record yourself speaking - most phones have now this option (look for “Voice recorder” or “Voice memos”.)

Before helping Greek learners with their speaking by using voice recordings consistently as a weekly practice, I’ve practiced this way too, while learning English and a bit of Dutch.

Here’s what I found:

Recordings are great. They can make an amazing speaking practice.

But only if done right.

I challenge you today to record yourself speaking Greek after you read this guide.

But let me share first a few things I’ve learned along the way. They’ll help you stay focused and keep this activity simple.

#1 Consistency

As with all learning, consistency is key. Recordings are no exception and you need to use them a few times to include them in your way of studying.

You’ll find that it gets easier as you go and that at the end of the month or the trimester you have a solid amount of recordings, a proof of your progress and learning.

No need for a rigid schedule here. Just remember to record yourself a few times to get used to it and then it will organically become part of your learning.

By staying consistent you’ll actually monitor your progress and identify where you need improvement.

#2 Self-confidence

With monitoring in mind, voice recordings can boost your self-confidence.

I bet you’ll find it miraculous how on recording number 1 you stumbled on this and that expression but in recording number 10 you used them without even thinking about them.

It’s gratifying and makes you want to move on. And because it’s like a rehearsal in a quiet studio, it gives you the time to practice and repeat words, expressions and pronunciation you want to get right in an actual discussion.

#3 Focus

You might be asking: What should I talk about?

Well, think of this: What do you want to talk about? How can you find the right vocabulary around that topic? Is there a question you‘d like to answer or even a topic for discussion you’d like to analyze a bit?

A mistake I personally made at the beginning with my own recordings - and I don’t want you to make it too - was that I just started talking about whatever came to my mind.

Although this might be okay for some learners, for me it wasn’t motivating.

Choosing one thing or topic helps you stay focused, make more efficient connections between the new or revised words & their meaning and reduces the overwhelm of trying to include everything at once.

#4 Realistic expectations

It’s easy to get excited and say  “Oh, recordings! Great idea. Yes, I’ll do this!” and then imagine yourself talking and talking - only to find out later that you can barely speak on the voice recorder for one minute.

One minute is surprisingly a lot, by the way. Instagram videos, for example, are one minute long, yet they fit in so much information.

Start with small steps:

Talk about one specific topic or question and use a certain number of new words or expressions.

#5 Be brave

Now, I’m one of those people who usually panic behind the mic or the camera. It’s just what happens, even when no one’s listening.

What I realized however is that the voice that terrifies me the most, is the voice of my perfectionism.

Recordings are meant to be liberating. But when this little voice creeps in, we freeze and then start the negative self-talk.

If you find yourself in a vicious cycle of hitting “play - stop - delete”, be brave and push a bit more. It’s the exact point where you need to allow yourself accept your mistakes and embrace your imperfections.

And when this happens just between you and the recorder, you know you’re a step closer to your “hidden gem” of speaking in real-life situations.

To recap, remember to:

  1. Be consistent with this new activity

  2. Monitor your progress and gain some precious self-confidence along the way

  3. Focus on just one thing

  4. Be realistic about your expectations

  5. Be brave and move past your perfectionism

Let me know how it went! And if you ‘re ready to speak some more Greek, check out here a 3 - week online speaking program I’ve created that helps you do just that.

Happy Greek speaking,

~ Danae

The Miracle of A Slow Learning Process: How Accepting Slow Helps You Progress Faster

Julia started learning Greek about a year ago.

It was “love at first sight”: she loved the musicality of the language, the expressive gestures people made when they spoke, the openness of the people she met.

Julia couldn’t wait to chat in Greek. To indulge in the sounds and expressions she had learned. To have a nice, warm conversation with a friendly person.

“Next trip”, she told herself “I’ll be chatting in Greek”.

But words wouldn’t come so easy. They seemed to get tangled in her tongue.

Julia felt that every time she was trying to start a chat with a local, her own brain sabotaged her.

Why couldn’t she keep up with the conversation’s pace? Why couldn’t she reply fast enough?

“It’s impossible” she thought.

Nothing she did was helping her to speak the way she dreamed.

She found herself fed up with grammar.

She blamed herself for not having a good memory to remember enough vocabulary. “After all, I’m not a school girl anymore”, she thought.

She felt discouraged. And often, ready to give up.

Why, oh why was this so hard?

Wish I could learn faster

Have you ever wished you could learn faster and then blamed yourself for taking so much time to speak Greek?

When I was learning Spanish, many years ago, I took an intensive course. 3 times a week, 3 hours each.

(I wanted to learn Spanish fast, that’s for sure.)

I loved Spanish and I still do. The sounds, the rhythm, the similar expressions to Greek and of course the people and the beautiful country. Maravilloso!

I expected to speak “fluently” within 6 months. I bought books, a new notebook, a shiny dictionary. I never missed a class and religiously did my homework.

What happened instead is, halfway down the road, I quit.

There are many reasons why I did that (the lack of a specific goal is one) but the frustrating feeling of not speaking as “fluently” as I wanted, as quickly as I wanted, was something I could not accept.

I was absolutely not OK with a slow process. The expectation of “fluency in 6 months” had ultimately cut my wings.

But, as much as I wished to “get there” faster, the process itself seemed to have a timer of its own.

And no matter how much I pushed, having a meaningful conversation with the locals wasn’t something that needed pushing.

In hindsight, not accepting a slow learning process means that:

1. We start having negative feelings towards the lesson, the language, the teacher

2. These feelings prohibit us from keep progressing

3. Sadly, we quit.

It’s not laziness and it’s not a race either

Like Julia with Greek and like my impatient self with Spanish, we sentence ourselves to a race.

Learning Greek can be love at first sight, yes, but as in real life this love might blind us. So much so, that expectations can be as high as getting married after the first date.

Can’t happen.

This is what we don’t realize:

  • A slow process doesn’t mean lazy, never studying between lessons or never keeping yourself on schedule (then miraculously expecting to speak).

  • Slow doesn’t mean lacking consistency, therefore taking months to progress over a single thing (then blaming yourself for not being as intelligent as others).

  • Slow doesn’t even mean focusing very hard on the aspect of the language that is irrelevant to your goal (for example grammar instead of practicing speaking).

On the contrary.

It means realizing it’s a process that needs its time, like a journey from place A to place B.

And in this journey, there are many things involved: motivation, effort, persistence, consistency, focus but also failure, mistakes, embarrassment - and you still need to move forward.

Above all, slow means permission: Give permission to yourself to learn step by step, every day, even if your steps are tiny.

What happens when you accept slow?

The fact that most of us live in a culture that appreciates fast and easy learning over slow and meaningful is something that you might have experienced too.

But do we realize what this idea is doing to us?

It turns us into competitors of our own self.

It creates unreachable expectations.

It fills us with sadness when we can’t enjoy the process anymore, the one we started in the first place out of pure enjoyment, enthusiasm and a mysterious, deep connection with the language we loved (and the country, and its people…).

So, what happens when we accept slow?

What happens when instead of putting on our fancy running shoes, we choose our most comfortable, the ones that allow us to walk miles while looking around and enjoying the view:

Overwhelm turns into anticipation.

Disappointment into acceptance.

And frustration into fulfillment.

It seems to me after all, that when we learn a language, we are not either fast or slow learners. It’s a completely different idea:

When we realize and accept how slow the whole learning process is, when we embrace it, this is when progress happens.

It is a miracle, isn’t it?


Recommended for you:

2 Things To Remember Next Time You Make A Language Error

What do you think when you make errors in Greek?

“I sound like a toddler”.

“Oh no, that was so unintelligible”.

Then you blush. Or beat yourself up.

Many learners think this way when learning a language.

I thought this way.

So, here’s my story. And what I’ve learned from it.

When I was a student, I spent a year in France. I loved everything about it. The country, the people, the language, the food, the places I’ve visited.

At some point, self-consciousness kicked in. I remember that instead of focusing on my success of finally speaking French, I was focusing all my energy on avoiding the errors.

At all costs.

Instead of focusing on how I loved speaking French (yes, my “Greek accent - conjugated wrong - using a completely different word than the one I wanted - French”) I was focusing on exactly that: the wrong conjugations, my inevitable Greek accent and the mispronunciation of words which changed the whole meaning.

As a result, I avoided expressing myself in French, out of my fear of making errors.

A cat’s point of view

I wasn’t aware that what I was doing wasn't really helping me speak more and better French, until I read this quote in a class about errors in language learning.

The teacher handed everyone this quote by Philippe Geluck’s “Le Chat” comic character:

"On dit qu'on apprend avec ses erreurs, mais à mon avis c'est une erreur. Et si je me trompe, au moins j'aurai appris quelque chose." (We say we learn from our errors, but in my opinion, this is an error. And if I’m mistaken, at least I would have learned something.)

“Le Chat” had said it all.

But why do we feel so bad about errors?

Naturally, as adults, we communicate elaborately in our first language(s). Our vocabulary often reflects our education and status.

Which means that going back to the basics in another language can affect our self esteem.

It requires patience and persistence to keep going. It’s not easy.

When I make a mistake, I tend to blush and avoid eye contact.

You might get frustrated to the point you get agitated.

You might start self-blaming.

Or you might barely react.

But, in some cases, learners feel so bad they eventually stop learning the language all together.

Do you see yourself in any of the above?

Looking at these reactions from the outside, it suddenly seems like too much.

Yet, these are all feelings you can’t easily control.

“Just get over it” doesn’t work.

“Stop feeling anxious” doesn’t work.

“Start speaking” doesn’t work either.

So what does?

The reason #1 why we make errors

The majority of our errors when we learn a language is because of language transfer from our first language to our second. Yes, from the one we’re so good at.

In other words, we transfer the structure of our first language to the language we learn.

We attempt to use our known patterns (syntax, grammar, vocabulary, expressions etc) to the language we learn and by doing so we apply what we know to a language that works differently.

If I got a dollar each time I got confused with “listen” and “hear” - which is only one word, “ακούω” in Greek.

Once, I was talking to a doctor’s secretary on the phone.

The connection wasn’t the best so I quickly asked her “Can you listen to me?”

What I simply meant - the poor me - was the much politer and accurate “Can you hear me?”

My face changed all the tones of red the same moment I uttered the word “listen”.

And I think you can guess how the phone call went.

How can someone feel better about their errors when they might confuse people and create misunderstandings?

It won’t happen overnight.

But realizing how language transfer works might make you more conscious about the reason behind your mistake.

I might blush again if I make an error in English. But I’ll quickly think “I say this because this is how I'm used to say it in Greek”. It’s OK. It’s really OK.

The reason #2 we make errors

Research on errors in language learning also points out how being tired, stressed out, even sleep deprived (any parents of young kids out there?) can actually trigger language errors.

The other day I couldn’t remember the word for “transfer”.

This is the “proof of payment” when we use the public transit in Toronto. It’s just a little piece of paper I’ve been using for 5 years now and I couldn’t remember its name.

I just wanted to tell the driver “May I have a transfer, please?”

But all I was getting in my head was “ticket”.

In the brief moment it takes to get on a bus and ask this 6 word question to the driver, I experienced a “my mind went totally blank-and the driver will think I can’t speak a word of English-but I do know the word-so why can’t I just say it!” kind of moment.

Yet, I was very tired, with a toddler not sleeping so well the last few nights.

There are numerous studies making the connection between memory function and sleep so again, no, there’s no stupidity involved, just a good reason why my mind went blank. 

Plus, here’s the language transfer again: In Athens, we use paper tickets in public transit. It made sense.

Anytime you experience stress, fatigue, feelings of anger, overwhelm and anxiety, such errors can happen.

Have you found that when you speak with a friend at a cozy café, words come easier?

And then, what happens when you try to resolve a stressful situation?

Again, such strong feelings will probably trigger errors as the brain functions change with stress.

So what can you do?

Let’s accept the fact that you will make errors. Everyone does.

Realizing where the errors come from and why you tend to make more of them in some cases, is a reminder of your humanity.

Really. You’re not a robot with a malfunction.

You’re a real person, a learner who makes errors the same way everyone does.

So take notice of your errors, take a deep breath and start making a plan about how to deal with them.

In the next blog post I’ll share with you a list with the most common errors Greek learners make during the Beginner-Intermediate levels, along with some ideas about how to avoid them and better support your overall learning.

Thank you for learning with me,

~ Danae

3 Strategies To Learn A Different Script [Guest Post]

Whether you come from a Latin based script or from a completely different to Greek script such as Arabic or Chinese, this post is for you!

I've asked Elena Gabrielli, who is an Italian teacher & an avid learner of languages, to share her tips about learning a different script. Having studied an entirely different script, she knows what she's talking about.

The Best Way To Learn Greek

(This post was updated in July 2018)

Are you in love with the Greek language?

Are you dreaming of speaking her melodic sounds, moving past your overwhelm and struggles?

Do you think you could use some help about:

  • How to set goals and why they are more important than you might think

  • How to choose quality materials wisely to avoid confusion, overwhelm and quitting

  • How to practice Greek in a smart and efficient way

  • What’s the "secret", final ingredient to learning Greek

Grab your tea or Greek coffee and let me show you.

So, here’s the question:

“What’s the best way to learn Greek?”

This is by far the most frequent question I get from Greek learners.

Visiting or even staying in Greece is usually thought to be the most effective way. 

This is not always true though.

Even if you do live in the country or spend a good amount of your time there, this doesn't necessarily mean you'll automatically learn the language.

In fact, I don't believe in automatic language learning, when your dream is to communicate with real people.

Which means that while simply promising you the "magic" recipe to “The Best Way to Learn” would’ve been easy and would’ve made me look cool, I’m not gonna do that.

Instead, let's try something different.

I want you to imagine you’re learning something new - such as how to create a tangible and easy to understand with your senses object.

For example, making birthday cakes.

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? A vision of your ideal birthday cake, right?

For some, this translates to a chocolate fudge while for others it’s a gluten-free cream cake. 

I bet you visualized your ideal cake by now. Which takes us to:

 

Goals

Naming your goal is the very first step you need to do before you start learning something.

Do you find it hard? 

When it comes to a cake, it can be your special flavour and decoration.

When it comes to learning a language, it’s not at all obvious. 

You need to make Greek tangible, so, take a pen and paper and write down:

“What’s my goal in learning Greek?”

  • Is it to speak with your Greek friends via Skype and social media?

  • Is it maybe to live on a Greek island?

  • Is it to visit Greece in the summer and be able to hold an everyday conversation with your in-laws?

Don’t be tempted to write more than 2 or 3 things. Too much is equal to getting stuck.

Have you written your goal down already?

Okay, now let’s go back to our birthday cake (our tangible example).

What’s the next thing you need to do?

Gather your "ingredients" and "baking tools" of course.

 

Resources, tools, materials

Did I say “gather”? 

Be careful on that one.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a recovering book and material hoarder.

(I believe books have little legs and enter your space while you sleep - I’ve no idea how I always end up having too many of them. Same happens to you?)

The same with language learning materials.

Textbooks, course books, Grammar books, notes, posters -  not to mention the paperless online materials.

Apps, videos, emails, infographics, social media groups - oh boy.

Let me explain. I’m not saying any of the materials above is bad or wrong.

When we learn languages, we do need to think about our “ingredients and baking tools” same as when we’re making a cake; we can’t use anything and everything.

Don’t be tempted to add too many on your plate and learn from every source possible.

Stick to the materials and resources that resonate with you and choose them wisely according to your current goal(s) and learning preferences.

You love images? Learn with posters, images, infographics.

You love audios or need to practice more listening? Stick to audios, music, the radio. You get the picture.

By making the right list of your “ingredients and baking tools” you’re creating your "recipe" and this way your recipe is not going to fail.

All of this is wonderful and all, but you want to know how to minimize overwhelm and “put your ducks in a row”. Hey, I’m a learner of languages myself, I get you.

Let’s see now how to approach your materials and - hint for today’s question - find your own best way to learn Greek, shall we?

Maria's example

Maria has a list of resources - from videos to audio, radio stations to Pinterest, free online lessons to Grammar books, activities, even apps.

Where does she start?

Maria has written down: “My goal is to speak with my Greek friends during my summer vacation. Also, to catch up with their news online (via emails, social media) when I’m back home”. 

See now how having a goal comes in handy?

Sometimes, starting a new language reminds me of expecting a baby. I mean, really!

You’re all excited, getting all the cute stuff, not knowing what you’re going to use - but who blames you, you might actually need them.

Because I’ve been there with stuff (language and baby stuff), I’m now trying to minimize.

Too many choices equal to too many distractions.

Back to Maria, she can only achieve her goal by choosing what she’s actually going to use, having in mind the time she has available after work and her current level in Greek.

However, as with newborn onesies and blankets or with the aforementioned cake ingredients, her Greek learning has some absolute needs:

Quality materials.

 

Materials List

These are my favourite and most used materials. Some I use in my classes , some I recommend to learners.

Take into account your own learning style. As much as I love some of them, you might find that they're not your dream materials. 

A simple rule of thumb: study with the ones you absolutely love. 

1. Grammar Book

Are you looking for a good, tried & true Greek Grammar book?

I recommend this by M. Triandaphyllidis and this by D. Holton, P. Mackridge and I. Philippaki-Warburton

Greek is a unique language (literally! Check this interesting info by Ethnologue here and a beautiful language map here).

So, yes, you’re going to have a lot of Grammar questions. Choosing the one book which is right for you is essential.

Greek: An Essential Grammar (Routledge Essential Grammars) was written with English speakers in mind. You can find it in both languages, English and Greek and it’s simply wonderful; thorough and to the point.

Concise Modern Greek Grammar  is the most used Greek Grammar book, written by linguist Manolis Triandaphyllidis, which also comes in 14 translations.

Αυτό ακριβώς! This is an amazing Grammar book with tons of exercises and Grammar tables - for Intermediate learners only. It is mainly meant for practicing.

2. Dictionary

Of course, your choice depends on what your first language is.

For the sake of simplicity, here I'll recommend this Greek to English dictionary which I've been using for years. 

However,  I do recommend adding a Greek to Greek dictionary as well. 

For this, Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας is a great option.

An online, free option is the Dictionary of Standard Modern Greek.

The advantage of having a Greek to Greek dictionary is the extra valuable information about the words' etymology, idioms and expressions.

3. Exercises - Course Books

Does homework remind you of endless boring school activities?

I won't blame you.

But to connect your goals to your practice, studying and revising are a foolproof way to keep learning.

Here is a list of my favourite course and activity books:

(A note: all of these books are written entirely in Greek)

#1 Ελληνικά Α(Beginners) and Ελληνικά Β' (Intermediate) course books with CDs.

Why: They are up to date, nicely presented. Lots of vocabulary and everyday expressions about living and working in Greece. And with great illustration.

#2 Ελληνικά τώρα 1+1 (Beginners) and Ελληνικά Τώρα 2+2 (Intermediate) course books with CDs.

Why: These are the classic books so many Greek learners have used since the 80s when they were published. Quite outdated vocabulary and cultural references, but very good grammar practice. Tailored to the needs of learners who visit Greece every summer.

#3 Επικοινωνήστε ελληνικά 1 (Beginners) and Επικοινωνήστε ελληνικά 2 (Intermediate), exercises books and CDs. 

Why: I think I love more the exercises books than the course books. Such a great variety of exercises. But it still is a classic course book. Again, this is more tailored to the needs of tourists or regular visitors.

#4 Ταξίδι στην Ελλάδα 1 (Beginners) and Ταξίδι στην Ελλάδα 2 (Intermediate) course & exercises books with CDs.

Why: I love their texts’ collection, Grammar tables and wonderful Grammar explanations. The exercises are a bit uninspired, but still good.

Great resources and tools, depending on your individual goals:

Apps: Apps are not favoured by everyone. But I learned to love them!

In fact, I’ve written a whole post which you can check here: 3 Best Apps I recommend to learn Greek for free. 

Social media: Not everyone’s cup of tea. But if it is yours, choose again what suits you best.

Facebook? Instagram? Pinterest?

Get a bite-sized post with a Greek word, information about the language & the culture, even a Grammar explanation.

Practice a bit or ask away. Why not?

Are you up to more chatting with some friendly & super motivated Greek learners? Join our Express Your Greek facebook group here. 

Music: Again, if you don’t really listen to music or if you don’t even like Greek music, then no need to use it.

But in case you do, then add your song here and find the Greek songs’ lyrics in Greek or even sometimes translated by members of the page.

For Intermediate learners, this book Λίγα Τραγούδια θα σου πω can also be found here to download and practice Greek with songs.

Daily emails/reminders/videos: These are offered by Apps; also by most companies that offer language lessons, such as the well known GreekPod101 by Innovative.

To be honest, I personally feel pressured with “daily” forever reminders!

But if you do open these emails and you like having a little nudge to learn some Greek in your day, then go for it.

Skip it, Don’t Keep it

You’ve heard about an amazing webpage which is “old but still good”, you’ve been told to read a children's story and you ‘ve come across the 100th video presenting the Greek alphabet.

While the following list might seem unconventional (and it is), choosing and planning your learning always comes with things you need to let go.

Outdated material: yes, you’ve been told it’s “old but amazing”.

In some rare cases, it can be true if there are other advantages (see the part about the one outdated course book I still use + why, above!).

However, unless you’re interested in talking about drachmas in your vintage coin collection, skip any "old but amazing".

(And avoid sounding like an 80s movie.)

Videos about the alphabet: You're probably past the alphabet, but I need to say this: Don’t expect to learn reading and pronunciation from them.

Why? Because every Greek letter has a name which does not correspond to they way we read.

While alphabet videos are fun, learning the letters’ names doesn’t add much to your learning.

Yes, you might learn how to ask about your spelling, but they can’t teach you Greek pronunciation.

Greek pronunciation is not too complicated but it involves a greater depth and focus than a “learn to read in Greek now” kind of video.

Disclaimer: I am not aware of any such a title, I’m just giving you an example.

Invest in time, by practicing more with your chosen, good quality resources or invest in a qualified teacher or class where you can get all the help you need with pronouncing the Greek sounds.

Kids’ books: I’ve been told to practice English with kids’ books.

And while the language might be simple, do you really want to know about fairies, the big bad wolf or the playground?

Unless it’s a fun, engaging children’s literature book, I don’t recommend every kids' story just because it’s in “easy” Greek.

Which, by the way, is a misconception.

I would much more likely recommend children’s books to Advanced learners, because of the natural language these stories are written in.

 

How to learn and practice

Read

This is kind of obvious, but if you’re not comfortable with Greek reading, your pronunciation is as well compromised.

Practice reading out loud, repeat after your teacher or after the audio you’re using. See below for more ideas.

Write

In Greek only. If I could write this in big, red, flashing letters, I would.

Writing in the Latin alphabet (the one I’m using now) or any other script will only keep you far away from matching the sounds to the image e.g. [a] → α (the letters).

Make it a habit to write in Greek and don’t care about making spelling mistakes -at all!

It’s much more important to learn the language as a whole than getting stuck to spelling.

Part of learning Greek is its different but beautiful alphabet; embrace it.

Listen, to learn  

How about a podcast, like this one by Language Transfer which is free and fun.

I've also used Soundcloud for some of my blog posts. You can find my tracks here.

Listen, to practice

Any Greek series, shows, songs, news broadcast, the weather, anything, really!

Don’t be afraid to get exposed to some real, fast, natural Greek. You’ll be amazed by the words you’ll start noticing.

A tip: have a goal to understand a number X of words.

By focusing on something such as a number of words or expressions or even words starting with a specific letter, you practice without getting overwhelmed.

You also avoid passive listening, which, to be honest, doesn't seem to be making any difference in language learning.

Speak

Unless you need Greek to translate books and never utter a word, chances are you’re learning Greek to communicate in Greek.

So start speaking now. Record yourself on your phone doing so.

Practice this vocabulary of yours. Best is everyday, but if time is really an issue, practice at least once per week.

You can do this. You’ll be really, really amazed by your progress.

 

Commit

Almost there now. You have your goal(s) written, your tools and materials in order plus plenty of ideas about what and how to use them… what’s next? Is this the best way to learn Greek?

Like I said, I’m not going to fool you with promises and "easy and fun" learning hacks.

The puzzle is complete only with your own, personal effort.

You’ve already put effort in all of the steps above (and in reading this huge post) now the real work begins, starting from your way of learning.

"Way" means it's a process, a path you need to walk; "the best way" is here for you to plan and follow.

So after you thoughtfully selected the why, when, what and how to learn and practice, now is time to do it.

There may be times you’ll wonder why you chose this language. If it will ever pay off. If you’re ever going to learn it.

If you go back to where you started on Day 1 and look at your notes, listen to your recordings, read your first paragraphs, you’ll see how far you’ve come.

Trust yourself. I know you can do this.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means you'll be supporting Alpha Beta Greek at no extra cost to yourself if you buy through the link. I only recommend books and resources of high quality that I trust and love to use myself. 


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