Announcing StaEllinika, a collaboration to support Greek language education in the diaspora
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University (SFU) is pleased to announce StaEllinika, an initiative for Greek language education in the diaspora launched in collaboration with the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad (GGAE) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). Children of the diaspora can now travel the wonderful world of Greek language, mythology and culture, all from their home computer, mobile phone, or tablet.
StaEllinika is a new online platform and suite of apps developed by the SNF New Media Lab in the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies as part of the Rebooting the Greek Language project, a two-year initiative supported by the SNF to bring new technologies and advances in pedagogy to the preservation of the Greek language in the diaspora. This new online learning environment facilitates remote language acquisition for learners that range from preschool children to young adults.
Thanks to the invaluable help of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and GGAE, this initiative will reach the widest possible audience and support existing education programs developed by the Greek state and community organizations, including embassies, consulates, community schools, and Greek cultural institutions. Our aim is to complement existing initiatives with new tools for Greek language learning and cultural immersion.
Speaking about this new initiative, the Deputy Foreign Minister for Greeks Abroad, Mr. Costas Vlasis, stated that:
we took great pains to make available ahead of schedule many of the specific applications of the StaEllinika platform. In the context of the present moment, this initiative uses technology to increase student engagement, especially at younger ages, while at the same time providing an attractive vehicle for approaching the Greek language, through a fully personalized learning experience.
Today’s release is a beta version and is provided free of charge to families and children of the diaspora, thanks to the generosity of the SNF and the hard work of our teams at the SNF New Media Lab and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This early release of a full suite of applications is in response to the current global pandemic and aims to support educational initiatives in a time of physical distancing. Work on the platform continues and the full version will be released in September, 2020.
StaEllinika is a collaboration between an interdisciplinary team of developers, animators, and educators coordinated by the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies, on the one hand, and officials of the GGAE of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by the General Secretary Mr. Ioannis Chrysoulakis, on the other. Two years of research and creative work has gone into this SNF-funded project, which employed a team of talented young Greeks, who mostly worked from a distributed workplace without having to leave their homes in Greece. As a next step the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed an interest in customizing and adapting the platform for Spanish, German, and French, while the team at SFU is planning additional applications that will pivot from language to the realms of Greek history and culture.
Further steps also include Android versions planned for release in 2021. A team of educators, linguists and teachers have come together on this project to ensure the suitability and effectiveness of the learning material, while artists have ensured that the material is engaging. Reflecting on the release of this new learning platform the Director of the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies, Dr. Dimitris Krallis, noted:
two years of intensive work by a truly talented and motivated team will soon find their natural audience, the youth of the diaspora. It has been an honour to collaborate by way of a completely distributed work environment - adapted in advance to the new emergency conditions we experience at the moment - with talented Greeks from all around Greece and across the world. In a way, a dispersed - you could say diasporic - team came together and put its heart, mind, and soul in a project that seeks to bring together communities in the diaspora through the Greek language.