Insight or Perspective: If we lose the language we lose everything!

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By Eleni Elefterias 

(Part 7)

I have often heard overseas Greeks refer to our children here are too simple compared to children in Greece.

As I said last week, they forget that our children do not have the opportunities for all the incidental learning before they start school, as children growing up in Greece have. Nor do they get 6 hours of Greek a week as people of my generation attending Greek school in the 60’s and 70’s got.

With two hours a week at Greek school, or one hour in a private lesson, we cannot expect fluency. Even adults leaning Greek need 500 hours of study before they can grasp the meaning of many children’s videos and songs.

How we expect our Australian-born children, some from mixed marriages, to achieve this in a few lessons does not make sense?

Maybe then we should look at mindful teaching rather than just teaching a program that sometimes fails many of our students. Our students are not all the same.

There are mixed abilities and those with differing knowledge in every class situation. We also have an influx of new native speakers who are new arrivals to Australia, in the last few years, due to the Greek crisis. A good teacher needs to be prepared for all the levels in their classroom. This is a lot of work for the teacher, work that is often underpaid and unrecognised. 

Our teachers of community languages are lucky to have the opportunity in Sydney to attend classes in teaching methodology provided by the Community Languages faculty of the University of Sydney, who offer a Certificate and Advanced Diploma in Community Language Teaching and a pathway for teachers to do a Master’s Degree in their community language.

If you or someone you know is interested in this course for 2021 check it out here.

Next week what makes sense to a non-native speaker! 

READ MORE: Insight or Perspective: If we lose the language we lose everything (Part Six)

*Eleni Elefterias-Kostakidis is a teacher of Modern Greek and University lecturer. 

Read Eleni Elefterias’ column ‘Insight or Perspective’ in Greek, every Saturday in The Greek Herald’s print edition or get your subscription here.

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