Insight or Perspective: “The ideal would be a complete bilingual teaching system”

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By Eleni Elefterias

I have been talking to various Australian-born Greek Speakers about their experiences of learning Greek and what they view as the problem with language learning today.

“The Greek language is important to me. It is part of my identity, my heritage. I love it for it’s amazing history, for the traditions and the language,” says Persa Thliveris and goes on to explain what she loves about the language and what in her opinion the problem with language learning.

What do you love about the language?

“I love the fact that I can converse and express myself in Greek, am able to speak with my family in Greece, in Greek and am able to read books in Greek, listen to Greek music and understand all the lyrics and poetry.”

I know you attended Greek School at Paddington and are fluent in the language but how did you keep the language alive for your children?

“Both my children were taught Greek. Besides Greek school and tutors, I used to have Cartoon videos for them to watch and Greek songs playing in the car.”

What about your grandchildren?

“It is a bit more difficult with them but I intend to persevere. My children completed HSC Greek as I did too so it is important to me for them to continue to learn the language.”

What do you consider the problem with language learning today?

“People think it’s more helpful to teach their children English rather than Greek as they think it may lead to confusion when, in actual fact, the opposite is true. Children at young ages are able to learn and cope with learning languages quite easily. It is good for the brain as well.” 

What do you think we should do to promote the Greek language?

“Educating people of Greek background and making them aware of the significance of passing on the Greek language to their children. The ideal would be a complete bilingual system of teaching in our schools.” 

*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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