It’s all Greek to me!

November 29, 2015 by


End of a conference…start of my challenge…

At the end of the Polyglot Conference in New York City, I was pleased to announce that we’d be taking the event to Thessaloniki in Greece in 2016. We hope to see everyone interested in languages there – polyglot, polynot and anything in between. Mixed with the excitement was the thought of meeting my goals of learning Greek to a B1-B2 level ahead of the conference itself. I’d set this goal in my head and now I knew it would need to become reality. So this is what went through my mind…

Goal setting

Until I made the decision with Alex Rawlings to take the Polyglot Conference to Greece, I was quite happy with my A1-A2 level in tourist Greek that I would use on our days out in Thessaloniki with the family. It was enough for me to get a smile from the people I was speaking to and what I needed. Keeping up the A1-A2 level I had from a course I did in Rotterdam in 2002 had served me well and was easy to maintain with the frequents trips to Greece.

Do you ever feel it?

I’m talking about that feeling when you decide to do something and then think, “OK, so how the hell do I do that with everything else going on?”. I have a job, a family and plenty of things to keep me busy as it is, let alone the languages I need to maintain already. These are questions and issues we talk about at the Polyglot Workshops and still I need to remind myself of these lessons too.

Some things you just love and get passionate about and you simply do them. To be honest I really did not have that experience with Greek when I started it in 2002. My motivation was actually to meet Dutch people and practise more Dutch. But that’s a different story. Had I felt a strong connection with Greek back then, I would have studied it way more. Simply put Greek is a language I have not fallen in love with yet. When I am in Greece, I do want to learn to speak it better. Yes. But I have that feeling with almost every language and when I am not in Greece I rarely hear Greek. This is usually the first thing I need, in studying any new language, to keep me motivated to learn more. I have to have that link to the language. The link keeps me motivated and helps me to fit it into my life in a sensible way that doesn’t upset the balance of everything else I do. It’s also crucial to be able to keep up with the language and my level in it.

Why learn Greek? Why now?

The Polyglot Conference going to Greece seemed like a great focal point for my studies. I set myself a realistic goal of B1-B2 for a year’s worth of study. That would elevate my level in a language and I do actually get to use a few times a year, just out on shopping trips. Yes, Greece is that close to me! It takes about 3 hours to get from Skopje to Thessaloniki by car. Many people here go to Greece for weekend shopping trips and that’s not even mentioning the swarms of people who go there for weeks at a time in the summer months.

I’m not a hot country person. Give me Iceland over Greece any day, so the “lovely hot summer weather” I can do without. The shopping I can also leave to the shopaholics. No, neither of these things are what I go for. I simply like the sea breeze, the beautiful coastlines, the tasty food and the coffee that usually comes with a sweet treat on the side. I also love Greek and how it has influenced so many of the other languages I have studied. Hearing the language and learning more is exciting to me.

Picking a goal

We think about learning a new language and want to learn everything. There is so much that it all becomes confusing and quickly overwhelming too. This is why I have to always ask myself why I am learning it and how I plan to maintain the language in the long-term. The more I learn, the more I have to do to maintain my level later on. For Greek I am conscious that I don’t hear Greek except for when I go to Greece on these short trips. It would be too much of a commitment from my side to pack Greek into my busy schedule to aim for an maintain a C2 level. I therefore want something more manageable for my needs. That’s why I am focusing on a B1-B2 level for the end of my studies. If I end up speaking a little better than that, great.

Getting up to a B1-B2 level is still a realistic level for me to maintain without a huge amount of additional effort. This is the real key for me because time is one thing I cannot create. I’m going to take my experiences and routine and share it all during the Online Polyglot Workshops with other learners, tackling their own languages from 4th January too. Join me and get advice in weekly webinars with me and Alex Rawlings, as well as personal help and support with our strategies and techniques for successful language learning. Sign up now.

Structuring my studies and goals

My plan is to get a B1 level in Greek by May and then B2 by October next year. The first month or so will be consolidating my A1-A2 level as it is now to a satisfactory A2 level as a base to move on from. I will do that with “Teach Yourself Complete Greek” and a Greek course I bought locally called, “Ταξίδι στην Ελλάδα“. I’ll continue with “Ταξίδι στην Ελλάδα” for B1 & B2 from January also. If I get to the C1 & C2 book, I will read it simply for additional vocabulary and consolidation of grammatical structures for better understanding. 

Making Greek part of my world

So the plan for me now is this…

1.Taking part in the Online Polyglot Workshops to make myself accountable

2. 30 mins a day of study before I start up the computer in the morning

3. A lesson every week with my italki teacher

4. Find a language partner to practise Greek before 1st January 2016*

5. Build up passive listening practice with TV/radio and other materials I can find

( * If you would like to be my language partner for Greek. I’d be pleased to hear from you. You can write me a message on my Facebook page!)

That’s my plan for now. I’d love for more of you to join me in this adventure. What is your next language challenge?

If you sign up for italki and buy a coupon for language lessons through them, you can use the Promo Code below at checkout to get $5 OFF your order! So a $10 coupon costs you just $5! Use Promo Code: RICHARD

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This post was written by Richard

1 Comment

  • Mauro says:

    This was quite a captivating video, both reaxled and insightful. I look forward to your up-coming interviews, especially if you interview learners who are generalists, such as David (I use this term, because David has learnt many languages and he is open to many methods and approaches). I believe your readership will definitely appreciate more interviews with successful learners who have managed to set up their lives in order to keep using and improving their foreign language. One interesting point however: David certainly appears to be an extrovert who has excellent interpersonal skills. This would aid his success. As he stated, he confirms his progress and validation through interacting. Others prefer the form of input, such as movies and books (I am that way inclined myself). His joy of cooking would definitely attract many friends who are willing to communicate and listen. One may make the bold suggestion that both cooking (perhaps dining) and language learning are interconnected: that is, people always seem to open up and relax when they are appreciating a good meal.