For what is believed to be the first time ever, three adult students from the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) sat the Certificate of Attainment in the Greek Language for 2023 and received the A1 Certificate.
The Certificate of Attainment in Greek serves as a valuable tool which offers an expert and objective evaluation of an individual’s Greek language proficiency. It is endorsed by the Greek government and it offers students the opportunity to learn and improve their Greek writing skills, speaking and listening skills.
The Greek Herald decided to speak with the three adult students to uncover what it means to achieve the A1 Certificate and what inspired them to study the Greek language.
Nick Voukelatos, a 36-year-old third generation Greek from Melbourne, was one of the first people in Melbourne to receive the A1 certificate.
The catalyst for Nick deciding to enrol into the GCM’s adult Greek language course was a combination of life events, ranging from starting his own family to the death of his grandparents.
“I decided to preserve and improve upon my basic language skills so as to not lose what little I already had, and also develop a capability to pass on the language and hence the culture for one more generation,” he said.
Nick has been studying Greek for more than 1.5 years, and shared two things that he loves about it.
“Firstly, I love the social aspect of getting to meet and befriend new people from different walks of life,” he said.
“Secondly, for the simple joy of learning and the sense of achievement it provides.”
He shared some of the highlights of undertaking the Greek course.
“Other than great teaching of course, I definitely enjoy the weekly jokes and banter to keep learning rather lively, and joint class events for various festive and cultural days,” Nick said.
“My all-time highlight was after my first child was born, my class wrote me a beautiful card, in Greek of course, and one of my classmates knitted the cutest little baby outfit.”
The adult Greek student said he encourages more people to learn Greek.
“Greek is an interesting and rewarding language to learn as there are many aspects to keep you mentally engaged and healthy,” Nick said.
“They include learning the more logical and algorithmic elements of grammar and vocabulary, memorisation, the rich historical and cultural context, and of course the social side achieving personal goals together.
“To those who have thought about learning Greek, or any other language or topic, but haven’t for whatever reason – ignore all the reasons, it’s as simple as a phone call or website form, then let momentum carry you through.”
Christelle Marie Sangeeleemootoo:
Christelle Marie Sangeeleemootoo also received her A1 Certificate. Born in Mauritius, Christelle came to Australia at 18 years old to study early childhood education. She said she always had a passion for learning languages.
“From a very young age, I have been fascinated by Greek mythology and the Greek language,” Christelle said.
“I remember reading the Iliad by Homer in French and being curious about the Greek Gods and the Greek heroes. Over the years I have made a few Greek friends, and I am blessed to count a handful of them as my dearest friends.”
The 32-year-old said after the COVID lockdown, she realised life was too short and unpredictable to not make the most out of it, so she decided to commence learning Greek.
“I looked around for Greek lessons in Melbourne, called a couple of places and then I saw the Greek Community of Melbourne page – I was referred to Mr Alexandros Giannadakis and I was charmed by the warmth and community vibe of this conversation, this was what I was looking for,” Christelle said.
“I wasn’t looking for just lessons, I was looking for somewhere where I can immerse myself in the language and culture.
“I started the classes in February 2022 from scratch and I remember how self-aware I was and so worried of making mistakes but then gradually as I continued the learning journey, I became more self-confident.”
Christelle then went on to watch cartoons and movies in Greek with English subtitles and listened to Greek music each day until she got accustomed to the phonics of different words.
She said she felt so proud of herself for pursuing the course and thanked her teacher Eleni Dimitriou for her ongoing support.
“She is so patient and so dedicated and always go the extra mile for her students. When I told her that I wanted to do the Certificate of Attainment for the Greek Language, she supported me and helped me by gathering a small group of students to prepare for the A1 level examination together,” Christelle said.
“This year my friends and I are preparing for the level A2, and I will also attempt the B1 level.”
She said she would encourage more adults that are of Greek origin to start the same journey and reconnect with their roots.
“I have fallen in love with the Greek language, the complexity in terms of grammar makes it even more interesting compared to my other languages, and listening to people expressing themselves with such a diverse vocabulary which doesn’t even exist in English gives me a deeper understanding of how people feel,” Christelle said.
“But what’s most important to me is the friendships and ties I have created within this warm community that is so supportive. I feel a sense of belonging here and this fuels my dream of further studies in the Greek language.”
Peter Defteros, another recipient of the A1 Certificate, said he always wanted to study Greek.
“It’s been a long-standing goal of mine to learn Greek,” Peter said.
“My father was from Greece, and I thought it was a great way to stay connected to his culture and my family background.”
The 56-year-old said he commenced studying modern Greek with the GCM mid-2022. He said there were many things to love about studying Greek.
“My fellow students and teacher have a lot of fun in class,” Peter said. “I love that it’s a way of staying connected to my heritage.”
Peter said some of the highlights of studying for the Certificate of Attainment, included “developing my Greek language skills along with my fellow students.”
“I also enjoy playing games in Greek, when students share Greek food in class, and creating new friends who share your passion for the Greek language,” he said.
The Melbourne-born man who works in policy for the Victorian Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions said he encouraged more people to pursue studying Greek.
“It’s a great experience to learn any foreign language, because learning about a different culture expands your mind and opens up new ways of living and understanding,” Peter said.
“It can be very challenging at times, but also rewarding. I encourage more adults to learn Greek because it allows you to more fully experience the riches of Greek culture.”
He said receiving the A1 Certificate was a great reward for all his hard work and effort within the course.
“The A1 Certificate was given out to those who attained the first six levels of knowledge of Greek as a second language,” Peter said.
“The exam was certified by the Centre for Greek Language in Thessaloniki in Greece and authorised by the Greek government.
“Three of us from my class sat the exam. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were the first adult students from the Greek Community of Melbourne language school to sit the exam and achieved the certificate.
“It was such a good feeling to find that out later.”
For the first time, the Greek Community of Melbourne will be the official examination centre in Victoria for students to sit the Certificate of Attainment in Greek exam for this year. Registrations are to be processed electronically through the electronic registration system available at: http://www.greek-language.gr/certification/application/index.html