New learners in multicultural Dubai

Dafni Sakkopoulou’s children are growing up abroad. «As parents, we were anxious that the children attain proficiency in Greek,» she said. «Thanks to the support of the Center for the Greek Language, the Hellenic Council of Dubai has been an official language teaching and certification center since 2007.» There’s a lot of interest. And the center already has 14 classes for children and adults, staffed by nine teachers who have specialized in teaching Greek as a foreign language. «Apart from the children of marriages where one partner is Greek, our classes reflect the local population; they’re multicultural,» said Greek teacher Katerina Zachariadou. «Students from the West admire antiquity and know many scientific terms that come from Greek. The Arabs see us as friends. Some of them have Greek roots, being from families who came to Arab lands after the destruction of Smyrna,» she said. «Lebanon used to be the attraction for Arabs; now it’s Cyprus and Greece,» added Sakkopoulou. Georgia is an Italian married to a Greek. «I wasn’t mad on languages but Greek entranced me,» she sad. «It’s a very rich language, and is of special interest to anyone whose mother tongue is Latinate. I’ve learnt the roots of many Italian words from Greek.» She’s struggling to learn and sit exams. «I’ve reached the point of throwing the book at the wall at 4 in the morning.»

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