American students learn Greek!

By STELLA PAPAYIANNI*

American students learn Greek! It is an adventure in itself this decision- obligation. All these verbs, articles, nouns, singular, plural. But is it possible? “It’s all Greek to me,” English speakers say. And yet!

American students learn Greek! It is an adventure in itself this decision- obligation. All these verbs, articles, nouns, singular, plural. But is it possible? “It’s all Greek to me,” English speakers say. And yet!

The thrill is incredible when timidly they start uttering words and sentences in Greek when they go to taverns and cafes and place their orders by speaking Greek! When catching the conversations of people on the street, in the bakery, and in small shops.

One year, during the final oral examination, students decided to create an improvisational comedy show in the classroom. Two students placed two desks side by side and pretended they were in a taxi. One student played the taxi driver and the other, a passenger and the passenger started giving directions to the driver. It was such a hilarious scene because the “Greek taxi driver” was singing, “smoking” and not paying attention to his client’s directions. Of course, they made everyone burst into laughter, but the important issue here was that all the dialogue was in Greek and without errors!

Other students made a scene at a cafe and later at a tavern. They brought props, plastic cups, dishes and improvised imaginary food. Others made up a scene in a clothing shop. They had brought blouses, pants, shoes, etc.

It was such a beautiful and pleasant moment. Although it was an exam day, the students, with cheerfulness and liveliness managed to overcome their hesitation with the language and prove that they can succeed!

*  Stella Papayianni has a BA in French Language and Philology from the Aristoteleion University of Thessaloniki and a DEA in Experimental Phonetics from Strasbourg University. During her time at Strasbourg, she taught Modern Greek at the Institut Neohellenique and at the Universite Populaire of Strasbourg University. Since 1992 she has been teaching university-level Modern Greek at various institutions in Greece. She has translated from Greek to French the vocabulary sections of various Modern Greek textbooks, has translated numerous French articles for Greek periodicals, and has edited DVDs with archaeological content as well as various books.