“I read some of the other student stories on the School’s website and I found a lot of similarities with mine. The story is the same for a lot of people who learn Greek I guess,” James tells me as our conversation begins.
James is English. He has been living in London ever since he was a student. He works as a translator, mostly technical things, as he explains. And he translates between French, German and English of course. “Not Greek obviously,” he jokes. “Not yet,” I say and he agrees.
What James probably found similar with his story and some of the student stories he read, is the connection some of our students have with Greece. As is the case for a lot of our students, James’ partner, Savvas, is Greek.
“Savvas and I met in 2003, that’s quite a long time,” he laughs. “So I always thought I would learn Greek because I used to think to myself- if I can speak German how difficult can it be?”
James had a few false starts as he says but they all came to nothing. “I didn’t have the motivation at the time, I think, because our lives were here. Savvas has been in the UK since the early 90s.”
So what’s changed now with his motivation and will to learn Greek?
“Slowly over the years we started spending more time in Greece, Savvas’ sister moved back to Greece, there are nephews and a niece now and I can see a future where we are spending more and more time in Greece. So it seems sensible to be able to communicate with Savvas’ family in Greek.”
James was a bit hesitant at the beginning when it came to online education. “I initially thought I wasn’t going to like learning Greek online. But it actually works. There is more focus on the time somehow. It is difficult to explain but it works and it’s going really well.”
James is a linguist and he considers himself quite the “geek” about it as he confesses, so I am wondering what part of learning Greek he found surprisingly exciting.
“I am just very excited about the language and its connection with ancient Greek. It is so exciting that this aspect is there for me to explore. It fascinates me to discover Greek words that have been pronounced the same or declined the same for thousands of years. It is quite moving actually. This side of the language was unexpected to me.”
James and Savvas are looking for ways to be able to spend some months of their year in Greece. As James tells me the goal is for them to spend more time with Savvas’ family and build a kind of life in Greece too. That’s probably why he considers his learning Greek as a sort of race with time.
“Communication was never a problem with my partner’s family. His mother speaks French, his father speaks ok English and my niece and nephews are desperate to speak English,” he explains. “So now it is a race for me to become good enough to have a proper conversation with his parents and also with my niece and nephews before their ever-improving English takes over. I have got to be better in Greek so it becomes natural to them to speak Greek with me.”
It is always amazing to hear how our students’ learning goals change and become more ambitious when their Greek improves. So it is so rewarding to hear that from James too.
“I started learning Greek thinking I want to be able to talk about the weather to Savvas’ mom, but now I can see a possibility of actually talking, having meaningful conversations with them. So that’s my goal for the future.”
We are more than certain that James will achieve all his learning and personal goals. Having a great Greek family around him probably helps a lot.
Thank you James for sharing your story and for being a part of our online Greek community.