By Ada Leivada
More and more studies that praise the health benefits of studying a second language are published everyday. Recently, the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology published a study proving that bilingual children perform much better on tasks that use their working memory.
This of course can be linked with lessened chances of contracting Alzheimer’s at an older age, since there is no better way to keep your brain active than studying a language with a different alphabet. And if you ask us, there is no better language to learn than Greek. Why? Here are seven great reasons why you should learn Greek.
1. You know Greek already!
While there is no doubt that the Greek language sounds and actually is a lot different from English, don’t forget that about 25% of all English vocabulary comes from Greek. Especially if you work in the fields of mathematics, medicine, chemistry, astronomy or philosophy, you are already using Greek everyday without even realizing it. Imagine what a wonderful insight and better understanding of your job and even your own language learning Greek would give you.
“I am going to share a little secret with you; scientific terminology is the best way to boost Greek learners’ speaking confidence,” says Stella Bompotsiari, founder of “Greek Lessons OnLine” which offers Greek language training to more than 800 students worldwide.
“When they realize that the terms ecology, history, biology, geography, geometry etc., are actually the same in Greek — apart from adopting a more rough Greek accent and a slight change in the ending — they start liking Greek more!” she says.
Greek tourism broke every existing record in 2018, when about 33 million people were recorded to have visited Greece, proving once again that this is the country’s biggest industry. And tourists absolutely love it here. They love the lifestyle, the food, and the people.
And while many Greeks do speak English, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could reach the most isolated Greek village somewhere on Crete or in the mountains of Arcadia and understand the stories that the local elders will share with you while feeding you anything and everything they can find? If you like visiting Greece, learning the language will transform you from a tourist into a guest and the locals will make sure to help you feel more at home than ever.
However, there are certainly many of you out there who do not visit Greece as a tourist, but rather because this is in a way your home. Whether you are a second or third generation Greek, or you had the luck to marry a Greek person, or you met Greek friends who became family in college, learning Greek is a great idea for you.
“One of the main reasons our students learn Greek is to reconnect with their Greek family,” says Bompotsiari, whose students are based in 50 different countries. “Recently we launched a course where students’ relatives from Greece join the class. It is like a team-building activity. Very interesting and quite emotional.”
Learning a language is a lot more than just memorizing vocabulary. It is about moving closer to a culture, it is about understanding a people and the different ways in which they express their joy, sorrow and pride. It is about making sure the roots and culture of your ancestors are preserved for the next generation. If family, in whichever form and shape it comes, isn’t the greatest reason to learn Greek, I’m not sure what is.
Like we said, learning a language is mostly about understanding a culture. If you decide to learn Greek you’ll be amazed by the beauty of Greek music, poetry, and literature. You would soon realize that you understand it and of course enjoy it perhaps earlier than you can speak it, because it resonates, in an impressively universal way, with every human emotion and experience.
This of course, would offer you a better understanding of your own culture by giving you the chance to look at it from a completely different angle.
I’m not sure there is anything Greek that’s more popular than Greek food. Maybe the Parthenon — but only slightly! Remember all the amazing Greek dishes you tried that summer in Greece, or that your friend from college cooked for you? You definitely remember how wonderful they tasted but maybe you can’t even pronounce their names.
For those of you who love food, not only eating it but cooking it, this is the greatest motivation to learn Greek. Not only will you be able to read recipes and recreate Greek dishes right from the source, but you will also have the privilege of being provided with the best supplies and ingredients from your Greek grocer who will take extra care of you if you speak Greek.
6. The Challenge
And while many learners complain about Greek being a difficult language to learn, there are those who appreciate a challenge. The Greek language, one of the oldest in use today, is distinguished by its extraordinarily rich vocabulary, numbering more than 70,000,000 words. According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), more than 1200 hours are required to learn Greek.
Learning Greek is, by any measure, challenging. However, this actually makes it even more interesting and fun. Besides, whether you are of Greek origin or not you will quickly realize that you already speak Greek, you just don’t know it.
It is the key to all languages
Many language scholars call Greek “the language of all languages.” Its Indo-European roots, its well-rounded syntax and grammar, and its vocabulary describing the slightest feeling or circumstance, as well as the fact that it has given most modern languages a great range of words and concepts have earned it this title.
For polyglots, or people aspiring to become polyglots, this means that learning Greek might make it a great deal easier to learn other European languages such as Russian and German — or even Turkish.
Whether it is to keep your brain active, to communicate with a Greek spouse, to get a better insight to your own culture or profession, or to travel, cook, read, learn or have fun, learning Greek will never be something you will regret doing. What are you waiting for?
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