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If you are considering learning Greek, know that you will benefit from learning to speak a contemporary European language with an important presence in literature and art, but also from approaching deeper ideas exported through the Greek language into Western thought and civilization. Greek script found on clay tablets dating back to between 1450 and 1350 BC, solidifies Greek as the world’s oldest recorded living language. Greek is the official language of Greece, of course, and also is one of the official languages of the Republic of Cyprus and the European Union.
Greece is often called the cradle of Western civilization, and modern-day Greece is a traveler’s dream with ideal weather, and thousands of islands peppered throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas. From landmarks including the 5th-century B.C. Acropolis citadel with the Parthenon temple to the black sands of Santorini to the party resorts of Mykonos, there are countless motivations—both historical and cosmopolitan—for learning Modern Greek.
Being an English speaker is a huge advantage when learning Greek as 25% of the English vocabulary is of Greek origin. You won’t be alone in your endeavor to learn Greek either, with large Greek and Cypriot communities in the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, Canada, Chile, South Africa, and Russia. With Greek-speaking communities also prominent in Greece’s neighbors—Albania, Bulgaria, and Turkey—you are sure to find other Greek speakers in far-reaching corners of the world.
Using Rosetta Stone’s award-winning mobile app and software, you can build a routine of learning into your daily life, without it becoming a chore. It’s perfect for learning on the go, or for fitting into small time slots. You’ll learn the foundations of Modern Greek and develop vocabulary presented in an order that’s tried-and-tested to ensure better understanding of how to communicate confidently in Greek.
Learning the Greek Alphabet
Our first stop on the language-learning journey is the Greek alphabet. Learning an entirely new alphabet can be daunting, but take solace in the fact that the Modern English script, called a Latin alphabet, is derived from the Greek alphabet.
The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late 9th or early 8th century BC, and was the first alphabet to have distinct letters for vowels and consonants. Apart from its use in writing the Greek language, the Greek alphabet also serves as a source of technical symbols and labels in mathematics and science. Even the English word “alphabet” is taken from the names of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet (alpha + beta).
The Greek alphabet has 24 letters, ordered from alpha to omega. More important than learning the names for each letter is learning the sound associated with them
That brings us to another huge advantage in learning Greek as an English speaker: most Greek letters and sounds already exist in English. It’s not a shortcut, per se, but it’s close.
From the very first lesson, Rosetta Stone focuses on the sound of the language and getting you to speak it correctly. With Rosetta Stone you can take control of your progress and become confident in speaking Modern Greek from day one.
Learning Greek Words
Rosetta Stone encourages learning foundational concepts first. Each lesson includes practical exercises that get you speaking Greek and working on your pronunciation consistently. Because Greek is a much more phonetically consistent language than English, Greek words almost always sound the way they are spelled. You can use this phonetic knowledge to pronounce long, compound words, that otherwise might be overwhelming.
Even though the phrase, “It’s all Greek to me” is a famous way of saying you don’t understand something written or spoken in a foreign tongue, as an English speaker learning Greek, there’s already a wealth of vocabulary you will be familiar with from day one. Let’s take a look at all the Greek words you know already.
Words of Greek origin are often used as a prefix at the beginning of a word. Take the following for example:
aero- from ἀήρ [aeer] / air
auto- from αὐτός [aftos] / self
hyper- from ὑπέρ [yper] / over
hypo- from ὑπό [ypo] / under
meter- from μέτρον [metron] / measure
mono- from μόνος [monos] / one, alone
photo- from φῶς, φωτός [phos, photos] / light
tele- from τῆλε [teeleh] / distance
You’ll also find words of Greek origin as suffixes, at the end of English words. For example, the following:
-chrome from χρῶμα [chroma] / color -logy from λέγειν [leyein] / to speak -phone from φωνή [phonee] / sound
Breaking down a word of Greek origin often helps to decipher its meaning. Let’s break down a few together:
astronomy from ἄστρον [astron] / star, and νόμος [nomos] / arranging biography from βίος [veeos] / life, and γραφή [graphee] / writing
Using what you already know and breaking down compound words can help you learn to speak Greek faster than you ever thought possible. And getting the pronunciation just right is a snap with TruAccent, Rosetta Stone’s patented speech recognition technology. TruAccent listens and instantly compares your accent to native speakers, so you know you’re pronouncing Greek words and phrases accurately.
Learn how to ask "Excuse me, where could I find the best baklava?" or “Συγγνώμη, πού θα μπορούσα να βρω τον καλύτερο μπακλαβά;” from a native Greek speaker.
Learn Conversational Phrases in Greek
Now that we’ve got a handle on a bit of familiar Greek vocabulary, we can dive into the conversational phrases that’ll help you ease into real-world conversations.
Learn Greek phrases in context
Now that we’ve got the ball rolling by building a base of familiar vocabulary, we can build on this foundation with afew common Greek phrases. After all, once you get started, it’s all about moving forward one step at a time with Rosetta Stone, which contextualizes your practice.
Rosetta Stone’s Dynamic Immersion® method prepares you to adapt in new conversations by applying the context of what you already know to new words and phrases–so you’ll learn the language and build upon it with your own experiences.
Start with Greek genders and proper names
Get rolling with Greek language genders, which are genders assigned to each word. The Greek language has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter.
This means the word “the,” also called a definite article, is written in three ways:
ο [o] for masculine, η [ee] for feminine, το [to] for neuter.
Additionally, “the” is used before proper names like place names, for example, το Άργος [to Árgos], literally translated as “the Argos,” or a person’s name, for example, η Μαρία [ee Maria], or “the Maria.”
Once you learn the sounds of the letters in the alphabet and how to properly gender articles in a sentence, you will have made good headway in speaking and understanding Greek phrases with confidence.
Learn Greek expressions and greetings
The basic conversational building blocks are a great place to start. Simple phrases like good morning, how are you, etc. are the bread and butter of daily conversation in most every language, including Greek.
Here are a few helpful phrases to build confidence while communicating in Greek, (also written phonetically):
Καλημέρα [Kalimera] (Ka-lee-ME-ra) / Good day Καλησπέρα [Kalispera] (Ka-lee-SPER-a) / Good evening Γεια σου [Ya sou] (Yah-SU) / Hello Ευχαριστώ [Efcharisto] (Ef-caree-STO) / Thank you Παρακαλώ [Parakalo] (Par-aka-LOH) / Please (also “You’re welcome”)
Practice Greek pronunciation daily
To feel confident in Greek or any language, you need to practice speaking daily, so you become comfortable with pronunciation and confident speaking aloud. With Rosetta Stone’s bite-sized lessons and award-winning mobile app, you have it all at your fingertips. Rosetta Stone allows you to fine-tune your pronunciation by instantly comparing your voice to thousands of native speakers.
How to Accelerate Learning Greek
Learn Greek pronunciation with Live Tutoring
When learning a new language, confidence comes from practice. That’s why Rosetta Stone has Live Tutoring sessions with native-speaking tutors to help along the way. A big part of building confidence is having real conversations, and the best place to do that is in a comfortable environment where you can receive constructive, insightful feedback. Our native-speaking tutors are also fluent in your native language, so there won’t be any communication gaps.
Immerse yourself in Greek
At Rosetta Stone, we strive to layer foundational concepts in specific sequences meant to simulate your natural ability to make deeper connections between what you’re seeing, hearing, and saying. Rosetta Stone’s Dynamic Immersion® method prepares you to adapt in new conversations by applying the context of what you already know to new words and phrases–so you’ll learn the language and build upon it with your own experiences.
Speak and practice Greek daily
Everything we do has one very specific goal: to get you speaking confidently. Practice makes perfect when learning some of the less intuitive aspects of speaking Greek. We go beyond standard lessons to let you practice whichever way works best for you–whether that’s studying common phrases, reading interesting stories, or talking to our native-speaking tutors. And don’t forget to train your ears. Rosetta Stone includes Audio Companion that let you take a break from the screen by listening to your lessons.
Your confidence with Greek vocabulary and proper pronunciation will eventually become second nature with a daily practice that fits your style. Use Rosetta Stone to learn here, there, and everywhere–from your desktop, tablet, or smartphone–and you’ll be ready to have real-world conversations in Greek with confidence.
Try Our Award-Winning App
Surround yourself with Greek whenever, wherever with the Rosetta Stone app.
Download a unit and knock it out on the train or a flight. Select a 5-10 minute lesson and sneak it in while you wait in line or for your ride to show up. And explore dynamic features, like Seek and Speak, where you can point at an object in the real world and get a translation.
The best part? You don’t have to choose between app or desktop. Both come with your subscription and sync, so you can switch between devices seamlessly.