“Are you roasting for coffee?” is a translation of how a Greek might say “Fancy a cup of coffee?” and is the kind of phrase that visitors who really want to experience the country and its people just love to learn. This and other similar phrases used in everyday life are part of the digital curriculum for users of the Glossopolis platform, which helps potential visitors learn phrases and expressions that they’ll hear or need to use during their trip. The rewards for those who manage to make use of what they’ve learned on Glossopolis while they’re in Greece are discounts at bars, restaurants, hotels and other Athens-based businesses that collaborate with the platform.
Athina Pitta, a professional translator who originally wanted to open a foreign language school, came up with the Glossopolis idea. “I worked on the idea after taking part in an Erasmus program for young entrepreneurs in 2013. Spending time with people in Brussels completely changed my initial plan regarding the language school, and, following long discussions, my colleagues and I ended up developing Glossopolis,” the young entrepreneur told Kathimerini.
As soon as Pitta returned to Greece she went about cultivating her project, which was also incorporated in the network of the Orange Grove, a start-up incubator developed by the Dutch Embassy in Athens.
“I could see the enthusiasm every time I presented my idea, and that gave me the courage to carry on with my efforts,” she said.
The platform’s client list includes travel agencies which offer the digital courses to clients booking their summer holidays in Greece.
“The tourism industry is particularly competitive and demanding, and that’s why we had to come up with pleasant ways to add to the travel experience. The unsuspecting tourist is a thing of the past – today we have travelers who are keen to mix with locals. Language is a very important factor both for those learning it as well as those who listen to others speak. It has a unique way of connecting people through memories and emotions.”
According to Pitta, the kind of stilted terms difficult to memorize by those starting to learn a foreign language from scratch are not part of the digital curriculum.
“We use a lot of humor when designing the courses. Travellers love the translations of proverbs – they find them both amusing and exciting and ask for more of these kinds of phrases through comments they leave on the platform.”
There is major interest in the “Swearing in Greek” unit, followed by “Restaurants and Bars,” says Pitta.
“Many people want to learn Greek but find the alphabet very difficult. Also many want to mix with locals and experience the Greek way of life using everyday language.”
Online data show that the platform has been growing since its inception, while according to its founder, Glossopolis is expected to extend its network with new associates on the Greek islands, in northern Greece and in Cyprus.
Over 70 percent of the platform’s users are in the 25-45 age group. Users come from 118 countries, with Russians, Americans, British, French and Germans topping the list. Visitors from Middle Eastern and Asian countries have also been on the rise recently.