Learning Greek

Tombstone of Nikos Kazantzakis: I fear nothing. I hope for nothing. I am free.

Before coming to Greece, I decided to take Greek lessons so I could get along better with the locals. If you live in Greece, you need to know Greek, at least rudimentary. Most educated people here speak English, but if you are trying to communicate with a mechanic, or labourer, or taxi driver, you will need to know Greek.

I love the Greek language but I find it extremely difficult. Despite my facility with English (I am a professional writer), foreign languages have always been a challenge.I have a type of dyslexia for foreign languages and they don’t come naturally to me. When I moved to Quebec, I had to learn French because that is the official language there, but even after 25 years, I never became fluent. The main reason is that most people in Quebec speak English so it is too easy to slip into my native tongue.

The same is the case here in Greece. My wife speaks English fairly well so we communicate in my language most of the time. But she is not expert and I really need to speak Greek! I consider myself a Philhellene but to be a true Philhellene, not only must I learn about the culture of Greece, I must learn the language.

So every day, I study Greek. Fortunately, I love it, despite the difficulty My teacher, Anna Exakoustou, has an excellent website called Online Helenic Lessons. She patiently led me through several months of beginner Greek when I was in Montreal, but I must work much harder now.

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