Throughout January and February, Neos Kosmos readers will be seeing advertisements for Greek language programs; Whether it’s taught at day schools or community language schools, or offered at public schools or independent schools. And whilst the choice to decide which program to choose might be difficult, the decision to learn Greek – regardless of age or level – is an easy one; Do it!

The Greek language is a valuable asset for any individual, regardless of age or background. As a Greek language educator in Melbourne for over a decade, I have seen firsthand the many benefits that come from learning our rich and historic language. While there are a multitude of reasons for parents and students to study Greek, this article will outline five:

1.     Cultural connection:

Knowing the Greek language allows for a deeper understanding and appreciation of Greek culture. From the ancient myths and stories to the modern-day customs and traditions, learning Greek provides a window into the culture and history of Greece.

Indicatively, Greek literature is a treasure trove of ancient myths and stories that have shaped Western culture. From the epic poems of Homer to the plays of Sophocles and Aristophanes, Greek literature offers a glimpse into the beliefs and values of ancient Greece. Being able to read these texts in the original Greek language allows for a richer and more authentic understanding of the culture.

Similarly, understanding the Greek language allows individuals to appreciate the art, music, and architecture of Greece. From the intricate carvings on the Parthenon to the passionate lyrics of Greek folk songs, these cultural expressions take on new meaning when understood in the original language.

Knowing the Greek language also allows for better communication and understanding when travelling to Greece. This can enhance the travel experience and make it more immersive and meaningful, through interactions with the atmosphere and the local people.

2.     Career opportunities:

Greek is spoken by over 13 million people worldwide and is one of the official languages of the European Union. Knowing Greek can open doors to job opportunities in fields such as business, tourism and international relations.

For example, with Greece being part of the European Union, knowing the Greek language can open doors to job opportunities in fields such as trade, diplomacy, and international development. Businesses that operate in Greece or have Greek-speaking clients can also benefit from having employees who are fluent in Greek. This can lead to better communication and understanding, which can improve business relationships and increase the chances of success.

In the field of tourism, knowing Greek can also be an asset. As a tourist destination, Greece receives millions of visitors every year. Knowing Greek can enhance the travel experience for tourists and open up job opportunities in the tourism industry such as tour guides, interpreters, and customer service representatives.

Kristian Raspa, leading teacher and Head of Greek Language and Culture at St John’s College. Photo: Supplied

3.     Brain development:

Learning a second language has been shown to improve cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, and problem-solving. Greek, with its complex grammar and rich vocabulary, is particularly beneficial for developing these skills.

Learning Greek can help improve memory by strengthening the ability to retain and recall new information. The process of memorising Greek vocabulary and grammar rules can also help to improve attention and concentration. Additionally, understanding and using Greek grammar can help to improve problem-solving skills as it requires the use of logic and analysis to understand and construct sentences.

Furthermore, bilingualism has been linked with a delay in the onset of age-related cognitive decline and dementia. Being able to speak and understand Greek can also give individuals a cognitive boost and can be beneficial to seniors.

4.     Improved communication with family and friends:

Many Greek-Australian families in Melbourne speak Greek at home. Learning the language allows for better communication and a stronger connection with loved ones. Being able to speak the language with grandparents, parents, and other relatives can be particularly meaningful and can help to preserve and promote the Greek culture and traditions within the family.

Additionally, knowing Greek can also improve communication with friends and peers who speak the language. This can lead to deeper and more meaningful friendships, and can also open up opportunities to connect with the wider Greek community.

Of course, we cannot ignore that being able to speak Greek can also open up opportunities to travel and connect with family and friends in Greece. This will make the experience more enjoyable and authentic.

5.     Sense of pride and identity:

Greek is not just a language, it is also a symbol of identity and heritage. Being able to speak and understand Greek can give individuals a sense of pride and belonging in their culture.

For those with Greek heritage, learning the language can be a way to connect with their roots and understand their cultural identity. It can also help to preserve and promote Greek culture within our community and pass it on to future generations.

Additionally, for those without Greek heritage, learning Greek can be a way to learn about and appreciate the culture and history of Greece. It can also open up opportunities to connect with the Greek community and learn more about the culture.

Furthermore, speaking Greek is a way of expressing oneself and showing one’s identity; it is be a way to showcase one’s interest and connection with Greece and its culture.

So whilst you may be finding it difficult to decide which Greek language program is appropriate for you and your needs, the decision to learn Greek is an easy one. It is a valuable asset for anyone to have. It offers a wealth of cultural, career, and personal benefits. By taking advantage of the many Greek language programs and resources available in Melbourne, students can learn and appreciate this beautiful and ancient language and all it has to offer. I urge parents and students, regardless of age or level, to consider studying Greek and experience the benefits for themselves.