Greek Lessons OnLine removes logistical challenges and makes learning Greek fun, interactive, and accessible to those who don’t live near a traditional Greek school.
Meet Stella Bompotsiari-Vri
Director of Studies for Greek Lessons OnLine, Stella Bompotsiari-Vri received her BA in Greek Literature at University of Patras, and her MA in Information and Communication Technology was received from the Institute of Education, University of London. She taught Ancient and Modern Greek in Greece for more than 8 years and for the last 4 years, has taught online courses.
“I have lived, studied and worked abroad (USA, UK) and this experience has played a significant role in the decision to support Greeks that live abroad or foreigners by teaching our beautiful Greek language. Consequently, the combination of my language and technology studies and my teaching experience have led me to the foundation of Greek Lessons OnLine, which is a great service for all people that want to learn Greek or improve their existing knowledge of Greek language, history and culture.”
Online Greek School always on her mind
After studying Greek Literature in Greece she began evaluating Master’s degree programs that would inspire her and would make a difference in the future of education. In the meantime, Stella traveled, eventually joining her brother Panagiotis, in North Carolina.
“There, I realized that there were many people who wanted to learn Greek and go to a Greek school. However, joining a Greek school is not always feasible for a plethora of different reasons.”
In 2005, she embarked on her Master’s in E-Learning Master’s degree, which she says opened her eyes to a “whole new world in education”. She said it was so inspiring, that her vision began to take shape. So much so, that she and partner, Pavlos, would talk for hours about how an online school could operate.
Greek crisis sparks innovative thinking
After completing her degree she wanted to return to Greece to look for a job, and find a way to implement this new knowledge she had acquired.
“Nevertheless, the financial crisis along with the high unemployment rate were of course constraints in this effort. However, not having a full time job as a secondary school teacher meant that I had more time to do things I liked. Thus, I did what I liked the most. Pavlos and I started working seriously to design our online Greek school.”
Like many other forward-thinking Greeks, Stella used her experience, creativity, and enthusiasm to create a new business. After running pilot lessons for 2-3 years, Greek Lessons OnLine officially opened in September 2012.
How it works
With a computer, internet connection, a microphone, a webcam, and their books, students are ready to attend class in the privacy and convenience of their own home. Lessons are enriched through quizzes, flashcards, videos, and songs, so students may interact effectively and have fun. Stella and her team and committed to making Greek language learning easy and enjoyable.
“Instead of commuting, students enter their Greek class from their computer. One of my students’ parents told me that it takes 60 minutes to drive to Greek school every Saturday morning and another 60 minutes to drive back home. Imagine how many creative and fun things you could do in 120 minutes. This makes Greek language learning accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world.”
Lessons are student-centric. Whether in private or group lessons, they encourage their students to be as active as possible, and interact with the the materials and not just passively watching the teacher. An interactive whiteboard is embedded in all the virtual classrooms, which means all students have the opportunity to use it as well.
They also have a control tool, which locks the screen to ensure students are fully engaged and not doing surfing the net during lesson time.
“This tool locks the screen to classroom view, which can keep them off Facebook and other online distractions. However, do you think a teacher cannot really tell who is paying attention and who is not?”
All lessons are interactive. Private lessons are available, as well as group lessons for 2-4 students. Recently, they launched classes for larger groups of 5-12 students. Courses are General Greek, Greek Conversation, Creative Writing, and Greek for Tourists. Each is offered at beginner to advanced levels. They also prepare students for the Certificate of Attainment in Greek exam, which is available every May, and recognized worldwide.
“In general, we’re a school that follows a specific curriculum and we make sure all lessons are delivered in the best possible way. There is a high quality control of all the lessons. As the head teacher I follow up all our students’ lessons and am in contact with our students or their parents. We take internet safeguarding very seriously and through our system we make sure all our students are offered the best learning experience.”
Courses for kids and adults
Students of all ages may take classes at Greek Lessons OnLine. Stella says the youngest if a 5 year-old Greek girl living in France, and the oldest is 72, and not Greek — she simply loves the Greek language.
Online school changes the landscape of Greek language learning
Stella says e-learning makes Greek language learning not only more accessible, but it makes it easier and saves time and money.
“For some people a traditional Greek school is not accessible. Our curriculum makes lessons fun for kids and adults. Moreover, all our lessons are interactive. The students participate under the teacher’s guidance as their computer screen becomes an interactive whiteboard.”
Students from around the globe
It’s truly a global campus, as students come from all over the world, including Australia, Morocco, Doha, Lebanon, France, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, New Mexico, New York, Washington DC, Texas, Alabama, and Oregon. Stella is now based in London, and her teachers live in Greece, France, and Italy.
“Another great thing is that we all get to meet so many amazing people from all over the word, that all share the same love for Greek!”
Creating job opportunities in Greece
While others are abandoning Greece, Greek Lessons OnLine is hiring teachers there, creating job opportunities for Greeks.
“It makes me feel better knowing that although I also had to leave my country and move to London with my husband two years ago, I can help other Greek teachers.”
The importance of Greek language learning
Stella believes that for all Greeks living abroad, learning Greek is not just something that is done to make parents happy or to include on one’s resume. The reasons are far more important.
“The Greek language is the key to come closer to our heritage, history, and our loved ones in Greece. For example, most parents want their children to learn Greek so that they may communicate with family. Relatives in Greece should be very proud of all this effort! Greek is not an easy language to learn but this is one of its beauties. You must see the happiness in my students’ eyes when they do well. They are soooo happy!”
Sign up for a trial lesson
Trial lessons are available. Apply, and then a teacher will contact you to arrange the trial lesson. In the 20-minute trial lesson, students are introduced to the program, learn how it works, and learn about courses. The trial also allows teachers assess a student’s level for placement. After, students receive details about courses, payment information, etc.
Greek Lessons OnLine is growing
Currently, there are about 50 students in the program, and it’s growing. Though some classes start on predetermined dates, other classes begin as soon as a student signs up.
“Despite the distance, we do get to know our students very well. Once, a student from New Mexico traveled to Greece to visit me. It took me only 5 seconds to realize there was no screen between us…because actually, this was the only difference.”