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hillary kolls journey

Hilary Koll’s Journey: From UK Educator to Greek Language Enthusiast

Hilary is a former UK teacher and children’s book author. After falling in love with Greece on her first visit in 1994, she started a decades-long journey to master the Greek language. Hilary’s fascination with the Greek language’s structure and patterns led to a unique approach to vocabulary learning, which she shares in her successful Facebook group, Learn Greek Doodle-Bonds. In this interview, we’ll learn more about her experiences learning Greek, the inspiration behind Doodle-Bonds, and how this method can benefit learners.

Where are you from? Tell us more about your background!

I’m from the UK where I trained as a teacher but have been writing maths books for the last 25 years for young children.

When did you first go to Greece? Why Greece? What attracts you to Greece?

My first trip to Greece was to Thasos in 1994 when my husband and I fell completely in love with the country. The Greeks were so friendly and welcoming, the food excellent and, as an English woman, the weather was also a major attraction! 

When did you start learning Greek?

On our first holiday here each night we visited a kafenion and got to know its owner Avierinos, who knew no English so I suppose my first attempt to speak Greek was with him. In the years that followed we returned many times and travelled to different places, particularly northern mainland Greece where the birds and wildlife are amazing.

How would you describe the Greek language? What is the most difficult thing for you when it comes to the Greek language? How did you overcome these difficulties?

As nearly everyone who has tried to learn Greek will agree it is a difficult language and there were many starts and stops in my journey to speak it. I would start a course but when that didn’t result in fluency I faltered time and again. In the early days I tried cassette tapes (yes, that’s how long ago I started!) and moved onto CDs, apps, online lessons, conversation classes and reading Greek books. I mastered the basics and crucially the alphabet but learning the language more fully always seemed completely unreachable. For me, however, the breakthrough came when I realised that so much of Greek can be broken down into smaller parts – like a code. My mathematical brain loved that! The brain is so good at making associations almost unconsciously that once I started to see patterns, I couldn’t see them, and they didn’t require the same amount of memorisation!

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Image From: Learn Greek Doodle-Bonds Facebook Group
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Image From: Learn Greek Doodle-Bonds Facebook Group

You have a successful Facebook Group called Learn Greek Doodle-Bonds. How did you start it?

So, as a hobby, I started to work on the prefixes – and realised that my brain remembers people and their personalities much better than words – so the Prefix characters began to take shape. I’ve always loved animations so found a way of creating the Doodle-Bond videos. Encouraged and helped enormously by my wonderful friend Georgios the idea of a Facebook group began to take shape. Since then I’m grateful to so many others who have helped me with the development and to the 1.5K members who have joined the Learn Greek Doodle-Bonds group. 

How can someone benefit as a member of the group?

It is a completely free public group where videos and content are shared to help intermediate students expand their Greek vocabulary. It involves some etymology, but it’s a fun way to explore the connections between groups of words and the underlying structure that connects them. This helps students analyze the words to understand their meanings.

 

You can join Hilary’s Facebook group here

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