Do you have kids who speak Greek with such a thick American accent it makes you cringe? Do the know of any older women in your church (you know the one, Kiria Maria old-school who brings in all the baked goods to the trapeza table) who tsk tsk you when they hear your kids can’t even speak Greek? “Krima krima,” they shake their heads, “na min xeroune tin glossa tous.” Do your kids look like dumb mutants unable to open their mouths to respond even to the simplest question their Greek cousins ask them on the beach in the summer? Are you afraid your kids might turn out to be “dry toast amerikanakia”? Are you afraid of losing your culture because you are losing your tongue? Mom, don’t give yourself a guilt trip. Here’s the latest in Greek language and culture learning resources at your fingertips to keep your kids fluent and your mother-in-law off your back.
1 Option 1 Greek school full time. If you can afford it and the ratings are good, there’s nothing like putting your kids in a full-time Greek school. In this way they get the mandated state curriculum but with the perks of Hellenic language culture and history built in. The benefits is that everybody is Greek in such an environment so you will never forget what date the Independence Day parade falls on. Your kids will learn Greek via osmosis by virtue of living and breathing in a Greek establishment. The disadvantage is the same as the advantage everybody is Greek this can breed inclusiveness (the nice word for cliquiness) provincialism (the long word for small mindedness) and lack of diversity. Be wary that some all-day private Greek schools do not do as good a job of teaching kids how to speak Greek. Unless there is real reinforecenrnt and rigor in using the language across the school you might just get kids who talk English with a Greek American accent. Most private schools, however, do a good job of having students know enough Greek to perform a poema at the annual OXI day assembly.
Option 2 part time Greek school. This is the most popular option for parents. The kids go to their regular English day school and continue after school with 2-3 hours of Greek. Sometimes they are taken on Saturdays for 3 hours at a stretch. Again depending on the quality of the teachers native off the boat teachers from Greece tend to rub the language off better than Greek American teachers this can be an affordable effective option.
Option 3 home school. It goes without saying that a family that talks Greek together, keeps the Greek together. As a kid my father would thunder down at us, “Sto spiti tha mikate ellinika.” If it wasn’t for my parents insistence, I don’t think I would be able to speak Greek in the present moment. But besides the incessant exposure to the Greek language via speaking it, watching Greek TV, listening to Greek radio programs and having a tenacious giagia or some other annoying relative straight off the boat in the home, there are a number of decent on line courses and books for home study.
Dinolingo.com: this language course created for kids is good at teaching vocabulary with bright colors. It reinforces sound letter combinations and can really help beginning learner a advance. It breaks down after the beginning level as it is not so great at breaking down the grammar. But for $100 it’s a good starting point. Furthermore, it has gotten many awards both by the Best Mom Awards and Dr Toys 100 Best for 2013. As it is exclusively created for kids, this would be my first choice for helping little Nono advance in Greek.
Rosetta Stone Greek for $320 you can purchase all 5 levels of the CDs of probably one of the most effective stand alone language courses on the market. Although not targeted for kids, it is nevertheless visually engaging and has a game like quality to it. The company has also released the internet only version called Rosetta Stone version 4 TOTALe
$169.00 at Amazon Rosetta Stone version 4 TOTALe, is an excellent blended experience. High learning engagement comes from users hearing, reading, speaking, and touching (virtually) simultaneously. TOTALe also offers hour-long virtual classroom sessions, guided by an instructor on a live video feed. However, I still feel the old-fashioned CD set that gives you the entire course which includes higher level grammar superior.
Pimsleur Comprehensive (digital download) $169 for download Simon & Schuster’s Pimsleur Comprehensive (digital download) is one of the most accurate and effective programs for learning to speak and hear a new language. Visual learners may have a hard time with the audio-intensive program, especially at the early stages, but audio learners will love it. Pimsleur’s products consist only of audio files and sometimes a companion book or PDF booklet. There are with no interactive flash cards, voice recognition systems, or learning games. However, in testing, I found that more is not necessarily better. Pimsleur holds up quite well against the competition.
Mango Passport $79 for Journey 1; $132 for Journeys 1-2; $176 for Journeys 1-2-3
The Mango Passport language-learning program teaches solid content for travelers. The downloadable software is mature, with a polished interface and clear audio recordings. It lacks most of the interactive goodies found in other installed software programs for language learning, making Mango a pretty modest product, although it’s less expensive than some of the big-name products, like Rosetta Stone. The selection of languages is more than decent though, and the software comes with MP3s that you can load into your music player for on-the-go learning. Free companion iPhone and Android apps can extend where and how you learn with Mango Passport as well.
Let’s face it the phrase it’s all Greek to me should be a compliment when coming from a Greek child. And because it is so important to know the language of your culture to feel like you are innately a part if it do yourself a favor mama teach your kid Greek. It will also help them in English. Who of your friends can know what claustrophilia might be without looking it up in the dictionary. You guessed right it’s the love of tight spaces. Apparently it’s what that wacky English spy had the one who accidentally locked himself up in a baulo and forgot the key.