Learning Greek with IH Bristol

Other Languages

Many of our students will recognise Catherine (bottom-left of the photo above) as the friendly face who welcomes everyone to our Queens Avenue - she is responsible for admin, accommodation and OET exams - but she also sits on the other side of the table! Catherine has been studying Greek at IH Bristol for a couple of years now, so we asked her about her experiences so far.

"I started learning Greek at IH Bristol a few years ago - September, 2018, I think it was - and I just love it! I was a complete beginner, and now they call me advanced. I wouldn’t actually say I was, but I’m certainly proud of how much I’ve learnt and how much I can say. I started off in face to face classes – like all the classes at that time - then when the pandemic hit, we switched to online learning, which was much easier than we expected. Then Katerina went back to Greece so we stayed online. Katerina’s a great teacher; full of energy and ideas, and really makes the language and culture interesting.

I chose Greek because I just fancied it and didn’t know it. I’d been on holiday there the year I started and just thought how nice it would be to learn it. I don’t have any specific goals; I just learn for the fun of it, and because I like myweekly ‘meet-up’ with the rest of the class. Two of us have been together since the beginning, with another joining soon afterwards, and the other two currently in the class joined in or after the summer, so we’re 5 regulars, all different ages.

Greek is very different from other languages, I’ve studied, especially the vocabulary, but actually the verbs and how they are formed are not so different from other European languages, so that’s helped a lot. Actually, I say vocabulary is different, but you’d be surprised at how much of English comes from Greek – gynaecology comes from the word γυναίκα (pronounced ghineka), ego comes from the Greek word for I - Εγώ, and the word σπίτι (spiti), which means house, must be the origin for hospitable and hospitality. And you’d be amazed how many household items in Romanian sound like the Greek word! So yes, it’s definitely helped that I’ve learnt other languages, and those skills have given me an advantage in a class where most of the other students have a Greek partner or have lived there.

The easiest thing for me are the verb tenses – but then I’ve always enjoyed that in other languages. My biggest challenge is probably the listening skill – and also vocabulary is quite hard. But I study outside the class (a life-saving something to do in lockdown), listen to texts on the CD we have and try and learn my vocabulary; that helps pull everything together - and I really enjoy it. Sometimes my brain seems to have gone to sleep by the time the lesson comes around on a Thursday evening, but it’s always fun, and I always look forward to my little bit of Greek energising! We do quite a lot of chatting in the class, so that’s good for practice, and it’s really helped improve my fluency.

I love the sound of Greek, especially the consonants, and the way ‘γ’ is pronounced in Greek. It’s kind of the equivalent of our g but you roll it in the back of your throat to make it softer. My favourite word is quite a simple one, and I like it simply for the way it sounds. It’s φεύγω (fevgo), which means go away or go out, and I like it... simply for the sound of it!

Hopefully I’ll go to Greece one day to practise a bit more, or who knows, take a language course there to immerse myself in it!"

- Catherine Cinca-Edwards, IH Bristol Administrator

Would you like to learn Greek?

Our next Foreign Language courses will begin in January and if you book before 30th November, you can bring a friend half price! Simply add 2 courses to your basket and use code LEARNTOGETHER at the checkout (offer cannot be applied to existing bookings - see full offer conditions on our Foreign Languages homepage)

See upcoming Greek courses here, or browse all foreign language courses here