Nine Ways to Immerse Yourself in a Language

Learning a new language requires building a strong grammatical foundation and enriching your vocabulary. Following your language instructor’s tips is crucial. The same goes with doing your homework and spending time studying. But if you want to become fluent in a language, you have to step up your game and immerse yourself in the language; learn in an indirect way, without studying “the traditional way”. Here are nine ways that can help you immerse yourself in Greek or any other language you want to learn!

Nine Ways for Language Immersion | Helinika

  1. Read the News in the Language You Want to Learn.
  2. Watch Foreign Movies with Subtitles.
  3. Read a Book in a Foreign Language.
  4. Listen to a Podcast/ Online Radio Program.
  5. Keep a Journal in a Foreign Language.
  6. Join a Tandem Group.
  7. Register in a Course (but not a language course).
  8. Travel to a Country Where People Are Native Speakers.
  9. Participate in an Exchange Programs for Students/Interns or Consider Becoming an Au Pair.

If you would like to learn Greek as a foreign language, build a strong foundation by joining Helinika’s video courses.

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What Does Greek Sound Like?

greek-speech

Are you debating whether you should start learning Greek, you may be interested in listening to what Greek sounds like.

In the above video, I am reading Greek aloud and specifically a part if the first paragraph of the book “The Secrets of the Swamp” by Penelope Delta, which is found in the repository of the Open Library (small part – in Greek).

Penelope Delta is the first Greek writer of children’s books. “The Secrets of the Swamp” is a book that anyone who is Greek or interested in the Greek history should read once in their lifetime. The book recreates the fierce Macedonian Struggle of the early 20th century, enacted “on land and water” at the swamp of Lake Giannitsa.

Buy the book in English.

Did you know that Helinika has a complete video series for learning Greek? Watch now!

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You are pronouncing the Greek letters wrong. Here is why

wrong greek pronunciation video

Alpha, beta, gamma, delta…?

Many non-native Greek speakers tend to pronounce the letters of the Greek language in a way that is similar to the phonetic values of their own language. As a result, they find it difficult to communicate with native speakers, although they know the basics of the Greek vocabulary and grammar. Of course, they are not to blame. Many schools are teaching Greek the wrong way. Here is why:

If you are interested in learning how to pronounce Greek the right way, you can read (and listen) to our free materials:

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Untranslatable Greek Words

greek words

Are certain Greek words untranslatable?

The Greek language, one of the oldest languages in the world, has many words and phrases with no English equivalent. We provide you with a list of untranslatable Greek words, their etymology, and meaning.

Popular Untranslatable Modern Greek Words:

Μεράκι – Meraki

There is no exact equivalent of the word “μεράκι” in English. This noun describes the love, devotion, and passion that a person displays for his/her art, craft, profession, field of study or hobby. It can also be used for day-to-day chores, such as cooking or cleaning, as long as they are completed in a ritualistic way. The word describes a part of the Greek culture that places quality over quantity and dedicating time and care in the creation of something.

μερακι

For example, let’s use tea as an example. If you sloppily dip a tea bug into a cup of hot water for a couple of seconds, you are definitely not making tea with meraki (and probably not even tea). On the other hand, if you carefully select the type of tea you fancy drinking, let it steep and brew, and if you pour it into a nice cup, stir it nicely and maybe add some other ingredients in it, then you prepared your tea with meraki.

The word actually derives from a Turkish word: “merak”. The Turkish term has a broader meaning and can often be used to describe concern, worry, but also curiosity.

Examples:

«Έχει μεράκι για την δουλειά του.»

Translation: “He has meraki for his job.”

Meaning: “He is passionate about his job.”

«Σου έφτιαξα αυτόν τον καφέ με μεράκι.»

Translation: “I made this coffee with meraki.”

Meaning: “I made this coffee with love.”

Φιλοξενία – Philoxenia

“Φιλοξενία” is an ancient Greek word that is still used today. It derives from the verb “φιλώ” (to love in ancient Greek; to kiss in modern Greek) and the noun “ξένος” (foreigner, stranger).

If you look up a Greek to English dictionary, the translation you get will probably be the term “hospitality”, which defines the relationship between a guest and a host. Although this is the most accurate translation you can get in English, “φιλοξενία” has a history that takes up way back in time.

φιλοξενία

“Φιλοξενία” was a set of rules defined by the gods, and specifically of Zeus Xenios. It describes the attitude towards people who are not part of the household, strangers or people from a different origin. The ethical obligations of “Φιλοξενία” are: a) to be offered to anyone, whatever his or her financial, political or other position is b) to respect everyone equally c) to never raise weapons against each other (the host and the visitor). The material obligations are: a) to welcome and take care of the visitor b) to offer him/her a meal c) to offer him/her a bath and/or the opportunity to sleep d) to offer him/her goodbye wishes and gifts.

Many modern Greeks live by these rules, offering food and care to their guests. Hotel guests in Greece are often surprised to find welcoming gifts, such as food baskets, which are usually charged in hotels abroad. Although “φιλοξενία” is not followed religiously by all Greeks today, it is still something that is highly associated to the Greek culture.

Example:

«H Ελλάδα φημίζεται για την φιλοξενία της.»

Translation: “Greece is well-known for its philoxenia.”

Meaning: “Greece is well-known for its hospitality and welcoming attitude.”

Κέφι – Kefi

If you ask a native speaker to describe the noun “κέφι”, he/she will probably say it is about being in a good mood. Although this is not completely wrong, having “κέφι” is more than simply having a good mood.

“Κέφι” is something that you have or you can lose. It is also something you can make, do and ruin. Is the feeling of light-heartedness, the desire to be spontaneous or the willingness to do something with your whole heart. It can describe the positive ambiance in a room, the party-spirit at a joyful event like a wedding, or simply the interest in doing something.

κεφι

The verbs used along with “κέφι”, such as “χάνω” (to lose) and “χαλάω” (to ruin/mess up), imply that the normal state for humans is to be happy and have a passionate and joyful view of life. If you lose your “κέφι”, fear not; you can also find it.

This word derives from a Turkish word, “keyif”, which has a similar if not the same meaning as in Greek.  

Examples:

«Έχασα το κέφι μου.»

Translation: “I lost my kefi.”

Meaning: “I am not in a good mood anymore.”

«Δεν έχω κέφι για δουλειά σήμερα.»

Translation: “I do not have kefi to go to work today.”

Meaning: “I am not feeling like going to work today.”

«Βρήκε το κέφι του.»

Translation: “He found his kefi.”

Meaning: “He is happy again.”

Of course, these are not the only untranslatable Greek words with no English equivalent. Do you know any Greek words you are fascinated with? Leave a comment down below.

February 9: International Greek Language Day

greek-language-day

November 9 was declared in 2017 as the international Greek language day. After years of efforts, the initiative to dedicate a day in the calendar year to one of the oldest spoken languages in the world suceeded.

The aim of the initiative was to promote the Greek language and remind the members of the Greek diaspora and everyone who is fascinated by the Greek history and culture, to keep the language alive by speaking it and teaching it to the next generations.

Helinika’s goal is to help everyone access free study materials and affordable Greek language courses online. Keep updated by following our Facebook page.

The Greek Alphabet

learn-greek-alphabet

Introduction to the letters of the Greek alphabet. Learn how to read and write in Greek.

You’ve seen them in trigonometry, in physics, and probably in chemistry. Or you might have noticed them over the entrances of fraternities and sororities in many American Universities. The symbols look so familiar to the ones in the Latin alphabet but, at the same time, they are so different.

The letters of the Greek alphabet are indeed very popular. However, they are often mispronounced and used incorrectly. Here, you will learn how to properly write and pronounce them. This should be your first step in your learning journey. The alphabet is the A and Ω of every language.

Facts about the Greek alphabet:

  1. The Greek Alphabet derives from the Phoenician alphabet.
  2. It has been used since the late eighth century BC.
  3. The Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters – from Α to Ω.
  4. Each symbol has its own name (e.g. the name of the letter “A” is “Alpha” or “Άλφα”)
  5. The English term “alphabet” is a combination of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet (“Alpha” and “Beta”).

The Greek alphabet letters and symbols:

greek-letters

The names of the Greek alphabet

greek-alphabet-names

Pronouncing the Greek letters

One of the biggest mistakes that people who study modern Greek make is pronouncing the Greek alphabet according to the Erasmian pronunciation. Many schools in the West are using alternative pronunciations of ancient Greek that change the phonetic values of the letters. The aim is to imitate the phonological system of the student’s native language, hence making ancient Greek easier to pronounce. As a result, many non-native speakers assume that modern Greek uses the same alternative pronunciations. The reality is that the Greek letters are pronounced in this way:

Why learn Greek?

the greek language

Why should you spend your precious time learning a new language spoken by over 13 million people around the world?

Learn Greek and understand the origins of your own language

If you are an English speaker, then you regularly speak Greek without knowing it. It is estimated that over 150.000 English words derive directly and indirectly from the Greek language.

“Dinosaurs”, for example, are the mighty lizards – the term derives from the Greek words “δεινός” (dinos) and “σαύρα” (saura), meaning mighty/strong and lizard respectively. Another example is the word “telephone”. This commonly used word derives from “τηλε-” (tele) and “φωνή” (phoni); the first stands for “distant” and the second for “voice”.

The same goes for most of the languages that are widely spoken in Europe. It is worth mentioning that some of the words were borrowed into Latin and then acquired from its descendants, the Romance languages, such as Italian and Spanish. Moreover, countless scientific and medical terms have Greek roots and, by understanding the language they derive from, you can understand more about this specific subject.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the modern Greek language is much closer to ancient Greek than most people think. In fact, it is closer to ancient Greek than Italian and Spanish are to latin. If you learned ancient Greek in school or if you are interested in ancient Greek history, speaking modern Greek will help you connect with the ancient civilization that influenced the modern western culture, ideas, and politics.

Learn Greek and expand your opportunities

Over 13 million people around the world are able to speak Greek. The language is spoken in Greece, in Cyprus, and among members of the Greek diaspora, a term that refers to the people who originate from Greece but live abroad. That gives you countless possibilities for meeting people, making friends, negoatiating business partnerships, and even finding a job.

Now, you may wonder what type of job opportunities might be available for foreigners in Greece. The country has indeed quite high unemployement rates, however, during the summer season, job openings multiply. Islands such as Mykonos and Santorini and other touristic locations need to employ a big number of people who specialize in various hospitality positions.

Chefs, bartenders, and baristas from all over Greece and around the world are employed every summer season in some of the most reputable hotels and restaurants in Greece. In most cases, the employers provide free accommodation and there are countless opportunities to enjoy the beauty of Greece. Speaking Greek (at least) on a basic level is often a requirement.

Moreover, Greece is a popular destination for travellers, digital nomads, and Erasmus students. Although speaking Greek fluently is not necessary when travelling to Greece or moving for a couple of months, doing so will make your life much easier and will help you make good impressions to locals, meet people, and make friends.

Learn Greek and train your brain

Learning a new language not only expands your job prospects, but, according to a recent study, it also makes you smarter. Bilinguals embrace new concepts that are often not represented in their own monther tongues, which has positive effects on the brain.

Now, add a different alphabet to the mix and the unique complexities of the Greek grammar and syntax, and the Greek language becomes a good choice for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge and learn new things.

We answered the question why should everyone learn Greek. Are you ready to start? Helinika offers free study materials for everyone and, in addition to that, a series of affordable on-demand online courses for all levels. The best way to learn Greek is here. Start your e-learning journey now!