Sep 12, 2021. Athens, Greece - Radio station “SKAI” invited Mrs. Angeliki Mastromichalaki, Academic Director of Ellinopoula to talk about how kids learn Greek, learning Greek online, the Ellinopoula platform, and Ellinopoula Live Online Classes.
Note: The following text is an excerpt of the interview’s highlights, edited and translated into English. You can listen to the original SKAI interview in Greek on Soundcloud, below.
- ΚG – Korina Georgiou (SKAI Radio)
- DK – Dimitris Kampourakis (SKAI Radio)
- AM – Angeliki Mastromichalaki (Academic Director, Ellinopoula)
ΚG – Dimitris, I would like you to meet an incredible teacher, who is no longer at the desks, she has “migrated” in a way, within the country of course, and has become a member of a different kind of school. She is Mrs. Angeliki Mastromichalaki, a former principal in primary schools, a multifaceted learner, and ever a pioneer, and I would like to welcome her to tell us not only about the students at schools that will open tomorrow but also about online students.
Good morning Mrs. Mastromichalaki!
AM – Good morning, a good start to all, good Sunday, a good start to our schools, in whatever way children are called to be educated as the world is today.
DK – There’s only one way to teach, Mrs. Angeliki, teaching in person at school, everything else is good, but it is complementary. I don’t know if you agree.
AM – This is true, teaching in person, being in contact with the teacher, eye contact, the ability to relate, to socialize, children’s smiles - are irreplaceable.
ΚG – What is “Ellinopoula” which enables children from all over the world to learn the language?
AM – This is something different, as Mr. Kambourakis said, the computer or any other electronic device, can never replace having real contact with your teacher and classmates. The era we’re in has shown us that there are additional needs; and so, we tried to create an online school for the Greek children of the Diaspora. It was an idea born five years ago by diaspora Greeks, the Sakkis family in California - an idea to create a worldwide platform for learning Greek. From the moment the pandemic took place, the needs of the parents who were part of this platform led to the creation of an online school with classes. Currently, the first Greek online school is underway - Ellinopoula School Online - where children from all over the world will be able to learn the Greek language, Greek culture, Greek culture, to love Greek.
ΚG – Like from which countries are there people who want to learn Greek?
AM – From America, Canada, Australia…
DK – Why would an American, Canadian, or Australian parent say, “let my child learn Greek”?
AM – You are right because it would appear as parents’ last choice because the school of the country their kids live in, precedes learning Greek. The largest percentage are Greeks of the Diaspora and currently, 75% of marriages are mixed. So, if one parent is a second, third, or fourth-generation Greek, there is this love for the “ideal” homeland - the “homeland of Odysseus.”
DK – Now if the other person lives in a city, how can their child go to school?
AM – Australia in particular really needs this as the distance to school can be huge. So, we have very nice and young teachers, one or two are in Athens, we have teachers in Crete, Thessaloniki, America, including in Phoenix, Arizona, and Canada.
ΚG – How easy is it to subscribe?
AM – It is very easy to subscribe, you register on the platform, and from there you register for the online classes. The online school lasts three months (each term) because there are 10 classes with various levels so that a child can learn Greek quickly. Along with the language, of course, our goal is to pass on authentic Greek culture - what we want is for children to be happy, and to look forward to learning Greek!
ΚG – You are very experienced, all your students loved you and they love you very much, I think this is the most important thing for a teacher.
AM – Exactly. It is to have inspiration and vision to give our love for the Greek language and our culture.
DK – I was reading a book on linguistics by a foreigner that left me speechless. He said if you were to take children today, from all over the world, as they are, speaking their mother tongue today and place them in a time machine and go back 2000 years, only two will somehow be able to communicate with people before 2000 years ago- the Greek kid and the Chinese kid.
AM – Greek and Chinese are the only languages with a constant living presence, by the same peoples, in the same place for 4000 years. All languages are considered “crypto-Greek” with rich borrowings from the “mother of languages” which is Greek.