Is it hard to learn Greek?

Is it hard to learn Greek? This is a question I very often hear from my students as soon as they start their Greek lessons. Of course, they want to know if the language they have decided to learn will be difficult for them or will be something simple and relaxing in their life. The answer, of course, cannot be yes or no, as there are some factors that determine whether learning the Greek language will be easy or difficult. Apart from that, every person is different and so is the way they acquire a language.

First of all, I must make clear from the beginning that the Greek language is different from English. Therefore, as soon as you decide to learn the Greek language you have to try to think in the way that native speakers of the language think. I know that this is not an easy task, but if you don’t do that you will find learning Greek that much more difficult. For example, if you try to speak Greek, you must understand that Greek nouns, adjectives, and pronouns change according to their ‘gender’ (masculine, feminine or neuter), their ‘case’ (their role in a sentence) and their ‘number’ (singular or plural).

So, you must be prepared for these and for other rules of grammar which are peculiar to the Greek language.

There are also three important factors that in my opinion determine whether you will find the Greek language difficult to learn or easy.

1. What do you know so far?

You will no doubt have met multilingual people in your life. When you met, you were told that they spoke four or five languages or more. And you were impressed! Did you wonder how they managed it? It’s very simple: once you master one language and you decide to learn another, the second language gets easier because there is often a common vocabulary between languages and also because the learner has come to know how to learn a foreign language and can, therefore, understand its structure more easily.

Conversely, when someone speaks only his or her mother tongue and decides to learn a foreign language, then things will be a little bit more difficult and complicated. This is especially true for the Greek language, where there are a number of grammatical phenomena that do not exist in other languages. “Every beginning is difficult,” as they say in Greece. But with perseverance and will everything can be done. I can honestly assure you of this, as through my experience I have seen miracles. People who didn’t even know a word in Greek can now communicate amazingly, making me excited every time I hear them.

2. Where do you live?

The place, where someone lives, is very important and determines how quickly or slowly you will learn a language. If, for example, someone lives in Greece and tries to learn Greek, then things will be much easier. This is justified by the fact that he will listen to the Greek language daily and will necessarily have to communicate with the Greeks. Thus, the whole effort becomes even easier, because he has to communicate in Greek every day. On the other hand, if someone is living abroad and is trying to learn Greek, then it takes more effort on his/her part. He/she does not have the opportunity to hear Greek regularly, but he/she may in some other ways, which I will present below, have some contact with the Greek language daily.

3. How much time do you spend learning Greek?

The progress in learning a language depends largely on the time we devote to it. So, in Greek, the more you practice, the better and faster your results will be. Studying Greek once a week, only for one hour, when someone else is studying 15-20 minutes every day, makes a big difference. Daily contact with the Greek language brings faster results and in the end, without the learners noticing it they can more easily understand what they are hearing and give the right answer immediately.

How can I improve my Greek?

Below, I will present some suggestions, which may be very useful in improving the speaking and understanding of the Greek language.

  • One very simple thing you can all do is listen to Greek radio. Although you will not understand all the words, you will still be able to understand the general meaning and have a picture of the conversation that is going on. For example, the lyrics of songs will help you learn new words, which you will then use in your own sentences. Try listening to the main Greek radio channels.
  • You can also watch Greek movies, series or even shows.
  • You can also speak to people whose mother tongue is Greek. This is done online through this website. You can chat with native speakers of the Greek language, making various conversations, learning new words and correcting any mistakes.
  • Finally, you can attend online Greek lessons given by experienced and professional teachers. Here the lessons are more organized; they follow a structure and you learn grammar, syntax and new vocabulary. Of course, you develop friendly relationships with teachers as well, so the lesson becomes even more enjoyable.

You see, therefore, that we cannot say whether it is easy or difficult for someone to learn Greek. The answer is relative, as it depends on many factors. Everyone can find ways to learn more effectively or combine teaching practices. Whatever your decision is, I wish you a beautiful journey into Greek culture and history.


Joanna Christou

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