Greek heritage can be found in every corner of the world and its influence can be seen and heard in the elements of other cultures and communities. There are many distinct qualities that create Greek heritage, whether it be our food and traditions, our ancient religious customs, or the legendary Greek language.
The English language uses over 15,000 words that are derived from Greek words, and these Greek-origin words can also be found in other languages. The Greek language is ancient and through its evolution it has given the world a means to communicate deeply. Greek symbols are often used in scientific and mathematical equations, or serve as indicators about the lives of our ancestors through ancient inscriptions.
From its origins the Greek language can be traced back to over three thousand years. Mycenean civilizations are recognized as the earliest speakers and writers of the Linear B language, an early form of Greek. Few artifacts remain with this ancient language, which can help us to try to appreciate the importance of preserving language. Eventually Linear B evolved into Ancient Greek. Ancient and modern Greek have some similarities, but the language we know today has changed significantly through the ages, as a result of changing borders, cultures, and societies in the Mediterranean. Even in the 20th century, there were questions as to which version of Greek should be the legal language, the Demotic or Katharevousa versions. Language is a vital part of our lives and it shapes the way we interact with our communities.
To speak Greek is to honor our Greek heritage and enables us to connect with friends, family, and opportunities in Greece. Some Greek diaspora kids are familiar with Greek school, which for those in my community usually took place in the small classrooms in the back of their Orthodox church. Greek school was customarily two days a week for two hours after ‘American school’. Often as kids, we did not fully understand the benefit and even necessity of learning the Greek language. But as adults, it is a vital skill that allows us to maintain connections with those in Greece, and also substantially opens up paths to new professional opportunities. Being bi-lingual is something that can be attainable at any stage in life, with the right resources and teachers!
The Greek Online School is making learning the Greek language accessible to students of all ages and levels. They began as a school to help the Diaspora and any interested individuals be able to take language lessons virtually. This makes learning Greek much easier and more accessible to everyone, compared to the old fashioned classes in our churches or community spaces. Going on a decade, the school has been providing Greek language students access to live online classroom lessons, where each person can interact and learn with their peers. Their virtual classroom platform and technology allows lessons to include interactive activities where students can write and share in the class. There are also educational videos, audio recordings, and other content that make the learning experience more fun and memorable. The Greek Online School caters to all student learning needs with private lesson options and always with a fluent Greek speaking teacher in Greece.
Organizations such as the Greek Online School help continue to strengthen and push the continuation of the Greek language, which also influences our culture. As a way to create a greater sense of community and needed learning environments, the school hosts an annual summer camp in the Corinthos area of Greece. The camp is for kids and features Greek language lessons mixed with fun camp activities and a chance to explore Greece with friends. The camp which hosts the program has excellent learning and activity facilities and even has a barn with horses and other farm animals. This allows students to practice and learn Greek while also being immersed in nature and exploring its importance.
But kids are not the only ones who have a chance to learn or perfect their Greek language skills. The Greek Online School is also hosting a nine-day language learning Immersion Course for adults on Spetses island this summer. These classes will be set in the historic and classic School of Spetses building. Imagine learning Greek while actually enjoying the beauty of a Greek island that is known for its quiet car-free streets and shoreside tavernas. Just a short boat ride from Athens in the Argolic Gulf, the island is a stone’s throw away from the shores of Peloponnesos near the town Porto Cheli. It is a rewarding activity to add to a summer vacation in Greece. The adult immersion course will be held in June 2022, followed by the summer camp program for kids in July, so there is still time to get involved. These are unique learning experiences, hosted by a professional and distinguished language school with native Greek-speaking teachers who will help you perfect you grammar and pronunciation, so you can sound like a local.
It is important to learn our ancestral languages because they are intricately tied to other customs and traditions in our culture. Language carries the history of Greece and the legacy of the people who have lived in and shaped the country. Today, younger generations in the Diaspora learning Greek will be able to continue preserving relationships with relatives in Greece by being able to fully communicate with them. Virtual classes are now a standard part of education, which also means that they have become more accessible and less intimidating. The Greek Online School teachers are there to help guide you and the younger generation in your family to learn Greek fluently. Learning Greek can be easy and virtual, or can be spent on an island surrounded by the culture and lifestyle of Greece.
If you are interested in starting Greek language lessons, check out details about the Greek Online School’s programs for kids and adults on their website, thegreekonlineschool.com