International Greek Language Day is celebrated every year on February 9. It is a global celebration that acknowledges the Greek language and highlights the pivotal role it plays in society today.
In Australia, Greek is taught nation-wide, offering students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the language of their grandparents and parents.
The Greek Herald spoke with teachers at the Greek School of Canberra to ask them about what teaching the Greek language means to them, and why it is important to pass on the language to the next generation.
Stella has been teaching Greek as a second language since 2016 and said she loves working with young people.
When she first arrived in Australia from Greece, she said the opportunity to teach at the Greek School of Canberra was exactly what she was looking for.
“I was given the opportunity to teach the Greek language, traditions and customs,” Stella told The Greek Herald.
“Through that, I want to be part of teaching Greek to younger and older students and help them discover not only the beauty of the language, but also learn about how Greek people live and enjoy their lives in Greece.”
For Stella, some of the benefits of learning Greek include strengthening the communication between students, their families, and their loved ones in Greece.
“Learning Greek also contributes to students’ understanding of their heritage… and who they are, as well as supports individuals to create a sense of belonging and make connections,” she said.
“Through learning the Greek language there are also opportunities to explore elements of mythology, history, cooking and arts.”
The Greek teacher, who is also a maths teacher and a high school teacher’s aide, said what she loved most about teaching was “the interaction with young people.”
“I also love the ability to be able to assist young people not only learn the language, but its colloquialism, its colour, learn about the culture, the traditions, the customs, the Orthodox faith and just everyday life,” Stella said.
Marilena is another teacher who moved from Greece to Australia and has been teaching at the Greek School of Canberra since 2020.
“My last job in Greece was as a Greek language and mathematics tutor for years 1 to 10, and this is what motivated my decision to become a teacher here at the Greek School of Canberra,” Marilena said.
Marilena said she thinks it’s important to learn Greek because the language gives people “the ability to understand more than 100,000 words in English and other languages, and unlocks the ability to delve into Greek history and culture.”
When asked what she loved about teaching, Marilena’s answer was simple – “working with kids.”
“Interacting with them fills me with energy,” she added. “Something I learned from them is that grown-ups can be taught by kids, too.”
Dora Vassiliotis has been teaching at the Greek School of Canberra since 2018.
“I started teaching at the Greek School as I was a teacher in Greece for 23 years, and it was just natural for me to continue teaching when I came back here,” Dora said.
The Greek teacher added that she always had a passion for teaching, whether in English or in Greek.
“I love the communication with the kids, the interaction, the innocence of children and I love seeing them grow and develop,” she said.
“You gain a sense of satisfaction when you see that you put [effort] into this child and then as they get older, you watch them grow and achieve great things and use their Greek language skills in the future and then you think, ‘I had something to do with that’.
“Teaching a language is a lot more than just teaching the ABC’s and focusing on the academic aspect. It’s about educating students on morals and ethics and instilling them with life-long skills and habits.”
Dora said learning Greek is vital for young people to establish a connection with Greece.
“A lot of students have never been to Greece and some of them might not speak Greek in their homes, but the Greek School is important as it not only teaches them about the language, but it teaches them about Greece’s culture and its rich history, and helps them connect with their heritage,” Dora said.
Classes at the Greek of Canberra commence on 13 February 2024. Classes are available for primary school students in Years K-6 and Term 1 starts next week on the following days: Tuesday, 13 February 2024 and Friday, 16 February 2024. Enrolment forms are available online at https://www.greekschoolcanberra.com.au. To confirm attendance and for further details, please email school principal Pana Tsironis at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0405 935 563.