Essential Early Steps To Learn Greek

For my first month with Greek, the plan has been to ease into the language. The Greek language is written in a different alphabet than any to which I am accustomed, and if I'm going to learn this language it will be necessary to be able to read the words I see in lessons, tutorials, and phrasebooks.

You might remember that during my Italian year, I took a break one weekend and learned the Greek alphabet. I didn't memorize it, and I didn't learn any subtleties, diphthongs, digraphs, or other peculiarities of pronunciation — it was really just a quick way to help me make a tiny bit of sense out of the many Greek things I see on Facebook, on Twitter, and in my occasional wanderings in Greektown.

That was almost two years ago and it was a passing interest at the time, therefore it wasn't much help getting me started. So, the first thing I did this month on my way to learning my language choice for this year was to find a good tutorial on the Greek alphabet, at Filoglossia"). Not only did this help me to reacquaint myself with the letters I'd previously learned, but here they also discussed diphthongs and digraphs which helped me to understand when and why some letter pairs are pronounce differently than one would think on first look.

I haven't spent any of my time trying to learn genders, cases, articles, conjugations, tenses, particles, or anything else just yet. The most important thing is to be able to read (and write) in this new alphabet as necessary.

As I practice right now, all I'm doing is finding Greek phrasebooks and beginner-level tutorials online (all for free), and learning to read and pronounce basic phrases like "hello", "good morning", "good evening", "please", "thank you", "excuse me", etc, from reading them in the Greek alphabet.

This strategy gives me a lot of practice learning to read Greek, and it also makes a great opportunity to learn basic words and phrases that I can use right away. I've already used several phrases with my Greek coworker, prompting him to ask "Who are you speaking Greek with?"

My answer: "So far, just you." Apparently, I'm learning well!

Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.

Author: Yearlyglot
I'll lead you through a 12 month journey from knowing absolutely nothing about a language to having professional fluency.

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  • Congrats!  It's always awesome when a native speaker is impressed.  :)

  • I think if you're familiar with all the symbols in maths, you're half way there. It's good to learn some of the alphabets and know some phrases  using those alphabets and the more phrases you know the more you are familiar with those alphabets and finally you know all of them :) I think a phrasebook is a good source since they also put the transliterations of the phrases included in it. Break a leg!

  • "I think a phrasebook is a good source since they also put the transliterations of the phrases included in it."I sort of disagree with this, at least once you've learned the alphabet. Why? I'm going through this process with Georgian and its alphabet. One of the pieces of learning material I have does transliteration, and they don't differentiate between some closely-related sounds in the transliterated text. So if I were to rely only on that transliteration for pronunciation, I'd be getting it wrong.I'd much rather just have an initially somewhat difficult new alphabet to learn and then rely solely on that for learning pronunciation.

  • Absolutely right! I didn't mean to rely on the transliteration of the alphabets but only to make it as a reminder of which alphabets have which group of closely-related sounds and you can differentiate them with another way for example by distinguishing the form of the alphabet or some strokes or dots. For instance one alphabet is transliterated as "d" but you don't know what kind of "d", be it a retroflex d, dental d, alveolar d or fricative d. You can know it with some way like additional stroke or dot. At least, the effort to recognise that alphabet is easier, you are not blank. Thanks :)

  • I agree.  Leaning on transliterations is a crutch that eventually slows actual language acquisition.

  • Thanks!

  • Great! Best of luck with your Greek mission.
    I studied Koine Greek (ancient Greek) for a few years and Modern Greek's been on the to-do list for a while now.
    Keep us updated on your progress!

  • Χαιρετίσματα από Ελλάδα! Greetings from Greece!Congratulation on your choice of language! Greek may seem (and be) a little difficult at first, but I think you 'll find it to be a very interesting language. After familiarizing yourself with the αλφάβητο and vocabulary I suggest you find a good grammar book.Καλή τύχη με την αποστολή σου! Good luck with your mission!

  • Greetings from Bulgaria! May I may make a suggestion? Listen to Greek music with English & Greek Lyrics!

  • Ευχαριστώ!

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