How to learn Greek vocabulary? 3 Different Ways That Make Words Stick in Your Mind.

Are you currently learning Greek and do you find it hard to learn the vocabulary and make it stick in your mind? I did! Yes, I also learned Greek and hope to continue with this beautiful language soon. In the meantime, I asked Danae, the awesome Greek teacher from  Alpha Beta Greek for tips and she shares them in this post!

Vocabulary learning was doomed.

*scary music playing*

A long time ago, someone probably thought it was smart to copy endless lists of words and spend hours and even days memorizing them until they “stick”.

This “Vocabulary Learning Dracula” used to haunt language learners of any language, sucking the life out of the words we learned.

We ended up forgetting these words soon after and we were left unable to speak our target language.

When I read Kamila’s high school language learning story I smiled. Because it was my school language learning story too. (And I bet yours as well!)

*happy music playing*

And because it is a story with a good ending.

Fortunately, vocabulary learning doesn’t have to be boring or monotonous, right?

But with the Greek language being the unique little gem it is (a nice way to say it’s not easy to find quality and user-friendly resources) I know learners have – you have – questions about:

  • where and how to study vocabulary
  • how to practice it
  • how to actually learn the vocabulary in Greek

So, here we are. In this article you’ll find:

  • 3 different resources: a YouTube channel, a podcast, and a vocabulary learning app
  • for 3 different types of learners: visual, auditory and kinesthetic
  • and my best tips to mix and match according to your goals and how you learn.

How to learn Greek vocabulary? Discover 3 incredibly useful ways to learn new words and utilize them to make them stick in your mind!

1. Youtube

YouTube is obviously one of the most popular places to search for tutorials and mini-lessons. You have probably done that already if you learn Greek. But which channel to pick?

If you want to learn Greek vocabulary, I’ll recommend Learn Greek with Lina. This channel is fun, engaging and creative. (Take that, Vocabulary Learning Dracula!)

Here you can find Lina’s playlists and pick the ones you want to study.

Let’s imagine you’re heading to a beautiful Greek beach. How about practicing these words then?

How to learn Greek vocabulary through videos?

  1. Pause after every sentence and repeat the word you’re learning. The pictures in the video obviously help you retain the vocabulary. This works very well with visual learners. Break the activity down: even if it is a whole sentence you’re listening to, repeat one word only. This helps you focus on one thing at a time. Then, listen again and repeat the whole sentence.
  2. Use the gear icon (bottom right) to change the speed. Yes, it makes the speaker sound like they’ve been drinking ouzo before they made the video. However, it’s a practical way to slow it down as much as you like in order to understand the pronunciation and avoid using the pause all the time, in case you find this annoying.
  3. Make associations so that you can retain the vocabulary. This can be either with what you see in the video or a sentence you read along as it’s described in an earlier blog post on how to learn vocabulary faster. It helps you connect what you hear in Greek with the object you see or the context in which the words are used so that you can memorize them more easily.

I particularly like using mnemonics or actually using the word in a sentence that makes sense to me, so check these ideas if you need some inspiration.

How to revise and practice Greek vocabulary through videos?

In most videos, Lina adds the vocabulary at the second part as flashcards slides. With our example beach video above, she does this at 03:35. You can use this part to learn the vocabulary and revise it as well.

I’ll describe it with a DIY example.

Let’s say you learn the word ιστιοφόρο [istioforo] (sailboat).

  1. Turn off the sound. Lina adds the text directly to the video, so there’s no option to hide it. You can DIY by taping a piece of thick paper where the text appears. Now that there’s only the picture on the screen, repeat the word or the sentences. Take it to the next level? Don’t hit pause. Practice with the regular speed. This makes the activity very different than flashcards because you have a limited time to remember “ιστιοφόρο” before the video moves on to the next one.
  2. Translate from one language to the other by covering first the English than the Greek sentences. Again with your DIY taped paper cover. Translation is a “deep” brain exercise. It forces you to find accurate vocabulary in your language. You’ll also notice that translating from English/your language to Greek is much harder. You’ve got this!
  3. Or just note down words. In case your video doesn’t have a vocabulary part, then noting down the words you learn is a great strategy which will help you learn many new words while the video plays, just like a mini-lesson of 10-15 minutes.
  4. Make your own video project. A final idea is to make your very own vocabulary video project and then upload it to YouTube. How cool will that be?

2. Podcast

In case you don’t really have the time to be around your screen or you simply want to take advantage of your car or bus ride, then Language Transfer podcast is for you. It is the best podcast to learn Greek and the method used will help you learn the vocabulary without any pen and paper.

Language Transfer podcast is based on associations we make in our mind in order to learn. It aims to help you learn the language intuitively, rather than teaching you rules or meanings of words.

Practically, this can be the only method you’ll need to learn while listening, especially if you’re not familiar with the Greek alphabet (taking notes in Greek might be hard at the beginning). I don’t recommend writing in the Latin alphabet since this won’t help you in the long run. It might even confuse you.

In case you’re an auditory learner, learning with podcasts is second nature. But if you’re highly visual like me, however, you might indeed need a pen and paper. The following tips include writing down, so try them out and find the ones that suit you best.

How to learn Greek vocabulary through podcasts?

  1. Keep notes and use the words you’ve learned to come up with your own sentences. These can be turned into short paragraphs later on. Don’t forget to check the spelling.
  2. To revise, write again the words and sentences as a dictation, while you listen at a natural speed and without pausing.
  3. Make mind maps. I feel that Language Transfer is gold for that. Mihalis, the native Greek speaker behind the project, uses associations while he’s talking with the learners. Creating mind maps is probably the best technique since it goes naturally with the methodology of this Greek course.
  4. Simply pause the recording after Mihalis asks a question. This will give you time to reply and then check if it’s correct by continuing the recording.

3. Vocabulary learning app

Do you use apps to learn with flashcards? They are so useful, aren’t they? I haven’t resigned from handwriting (in fact it helps you memorize better) but I do like flashcards I can share with my students online or use them for my own learning. It’s great to have an app to study when you’re on the bus!

I’ll keep it short: Memrise is my favorite app.

Here you can find all the Memrise Greek courses. If you click on the left column and pick your language (in case it’s not English) you might find courses from your language to Greek as well. English – Greek has the most courses so you might want to stick to that.

Now, how to use a vocabulary learning app? Really? Can it be more straightforward than that?

How to learn vocabulary through apps and make the words stick in your mind more easily and in a creative way?

  1. Use it. Once you learn the vocabulary from a single Memrise lesson, aim to use it all in a few sentences or a paragraph or a short story – depending on your level. If your goal is to speak and express your own ideas in a language, then writing or saying them out loud helps you use what you learn right away.
  2. Create a vocabulary journal. In case you learn a few words every day, even for 5 minutes per day, then how about creating a vocabulary journal? Write down the words of the day. Do you find at least one that is relevant to what you did or how you felt during your day? Highlight it. This is your “word of the day” – only not a random one, but a personal, meaningful one. After all, we tend to remember best what is relevant to us. This connection to daily life is particularly useful for kinesthetic learners.

So next time you see a Vocabulary Learning Dracula (they still exist!) just show them how fun, meaningful and creative Greek vocabulary learning can be.

They’ll vanish into thin air.

Danae Florou is a sun-loving Greek teacher and a philoglot (=Someone who enjoys or is interested in the Philosophy of Language). She helps people express themselves in Greek in order to connect through meaningful conversations. Find her on her blog at Alpha Beta Greek.

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