By Eleni Elefterias.
So you have decided to send your child to learn Greek. She has just turned 5 or 6, and you wonder whether it is better to send her to a Greek afternoon school or find a good private teacher, maybe a native speaker even.
The pros of sending your child to a group session or afternoon school in a class are that they get to socialise with other children in the same language, they see others who have similar backgrounds to themselves. Hence, they begin to feel a part of a group or a community who are all learning Greek.
They get to speak and listen to others in the language. Quite often, peer pressure works in favour of language learning. If they are lucky to have a talented teacher, or at a school with an organised program, they would be exposed to songs and role-plays and follow a program suitable to their level of understanding. It could be fun. They could ask their peers for help.
The cons are that if the level in the class is not right for them, they could feel lost or they could get bored if it were too simple. It is also easier to sit back quietly and not do anything, and be overlooked. The class may be very noisy, especially if the teacher does not have good classroom management skills. Or they may not understand the pronunciation of the teacher, especially if she or he is fresh from Greece and trying to explain something in English.
The pros of a private lesson is that the child gets more individual attention. A good teacher would gear all the lessons to their level; they could potentially learn more quickly.
The cons are that, especially for a young child, an hour is far too long to concentrate, there is not much opportunity for fun activities such as songs and games that help to make the lesson more interesting.
At what age should they start? More on this next week.
*Eleni Elefterias-Kostakidis is a teacher of Modern Greek and University lecturer.