Just got back from Greece!

A lot of people often ask whether Duolingo will let you actually "speak" a language if you go to a foreign country. Since I just got back from a couple of weeks in Greece, I thought I might be able to provide some insight onto how learning Greek via Duolingo went.

Disclaimer: I knew Ancient Greek previously, but my knowledge of Modern Greek comes exclusively from Duolingo (the regular and the reverse course) and Wikipedia.

The short version: it went very well!

When I could actually use Greek (because most people I encountered spoke at least some English), it went well, and I could both understand and be understood. The Duolingo course definitely gave me a good working vocabulary (more than I expected, actually) and the ability to guess more from context. I was actually complimented several times on my pronunciation, and I learned pronunciation by replaying the audio repeatedly and trying to reproduce it (γ gave the most trouble).

Unexpectedly, one of the areas where Duolingo turned out most useful was in driving and navigating: the road signs would have been completely incomprehensible otherwise.

Difficulties: this isn't Duolingo's fault, but when I had trouble, it was usually in listening, and that was almost always because I couldn't quickly determine if the /i/ sound represented ι, υ, η, or οι.

The main shortcoming from the regular Duolingo course (Greek for English-speakers) was verb conjugation: I felt that I didn't get enough of that to really internalize the conjugation. But after I did Greek for English, I did English for Greek-speakers, and that was EXCELLENT for forcing me to learn the verb conjugations and noun-adjective declensions. (I supplemented this a little with looking at the paradigms on Wikipedia.)

A bonus skill that might be fun and useful in the future could be place names: for instance, the fact that the places English-speakers know as Thebes and Plataea are Θήβα/Thiva and Πλαταιές/Plataies in Modern Greek.

So, thanks so much to everyone who worked on the Greek courses! Without reservation, they were enormously useful in helping me learn the language. I do recommend supplementing the G-to-E course with the E-to-G reverse course, and looking up paradigms online.

October 23, 2017

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Congratulations and many thanks for posting this. We keep trying but until a learner tells us how they are doing we never know if we are on the right track. Of course, you really pursued your studies with outside sources.

Thanks for the hint on conjugations. We're preparing a New Tree and from what I see verbs are high on the curriculum. Also, there will be a Skill on Greece so we'll be able to include place names.

And the road signs, I never thought about how difficult it would be for a driver who didn't know Greek. I'll suggest those be included in the New Tree.

Again many thanks for your feedback and so valuable suggestions. Your success gives us so much courage to keep working.

October 23, 2017

Excellent, thanks for all you guys' hard work!

October 30, 2017
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Thanks for your comments em7ec.

Totally agreed on the reverse course - I'm doing it right now and it's a very good complement to the El from En course; I definitely think the grammar is a little more complex.

I'd also say that the Duo courses are a fantastic foundation for starting to learn Greek, although I think to progress further, you do need to combine it with some or all of Memrise, Clozemaster, formal lessons, reading in Greek, working through Greek language textbooks and so on. But if you want to travel to Greece and speak a bit, they're spot-on.

And I'd also say that I absolutely find aural comprehension the most difficult aspect of learning Greek by far; I can now express myself in most situations more than adequately (sometimes in roundabout ways, and perhaps not always grammatically correctly), have a reasonably big vocab and can make some sort of sense of most written Greek I encounter. But Greek spoken by Greeks... I'm still struggling with that. The conjugating and declension doesn't help; often I'll have heard a word many times in its base form, but never in a modified format, which makes it hard to recognise.

Having said that, I'm just about to move there, and I have been assured by multiple people that if I start watching Greek soap operas relentlessly, I'll have my aural comprehension down in no time ;-)

October 25, 2017

I also want to supplement with reading Greek, but it's not easy to find books in Modern Greek even online. I had been hoping to find something like the Odyssey or Plato but didn't manage it. Do you have any suggestions where someone in the US could acquire Modern Greek books?

October 30, 2017

Here is Odyssey and here is Iliad both in Ancient and Modern Greek. Books online are not that hard to find, provided that you search using Greek. Take a look here and here. ;)

October 30, 2017

Love your profile pic. My dad has a pendant with an Athenian Drachma like that on it. Athena on one side, owl on the other. ;)

October 23, 2017

Fun fact; the owl image is also used on the Greek 1 Euro coin.

October 30, 2017

Haha, thanks; it's always good to talk to someone who recognizes it.

October 30, 2017

WOW!!! Well done :D I really enjoyed reading this!

October 24, 2017

I envy you. Can't go to Greece right now though... Went to Rome, at least!

October 23, 2017

SPQR and Ciao!

October 23, 2017

Congrats, it is encouraging to hear that you made use of the course to the rest of us learning a language. (The ι /υ /οι/ η sound difficulty sounds an interesting remark)

October 27, 2017

Woo! Congrats!

October 23, 2017
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