Prime Minister of Greece chats with SFU team about Greek-language training app
By Chris Dickert
How do you get children to learn their parent’s language, when everyone around them is speaking English?
That’s what the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, set out to do when he met with the Director of the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University, Dimitris Krallis over Zoom to discuss StaEllinika. The online platform and suite of apps was designed by an SFU-led international team of experts to teach the Modern Greek language to learners in the Greek diaspora, made possible thanks to the generous support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
The prime minister and Krallis spoke with staff working on the StaEllinika initiative, as well as children and teachers from five continents currently using StaEllinika. Joining them were the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, HE Elpidoforos; Anastasios Koularmanis, director of Greek education (Archdiocese); minister to the prime minister, Akis Skertsos; deputy minister of foreign affairs responsible for Greeks abroad, Konstantinos Vlasis; and the head of the general secretariat for Greeks abroad from Greece’s ministry of foreign affairs, Ioannis Chrysoulakis.
The prime minister also discussed the success of the platform in bringing Greek history, mythology and language alive for young students. This excitement for StaEllinika was evident in the comments of the diverse group of children and educators participating in the call. Young Greek learners and their teachers from 16 schools around the world, including Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Kinshasa (DR Congo), as well as schools in Europe and Australia, shared their positive experiences with StaEllinika and the impact of Greek culture on their education and career aspirations.
Though the platform is currently configured for English speakers, adaption into French, Spanish and German is already underway. Recognizing these efforts, the prime minister shared his desire to increase accessibility and usage of StaEllinika.
The platform is designed to appeal to a wide range of students, ranging from preschool-age children to young adults and has already reached 110 countries and 11,000 registrations since the launch of its beta version at the end of April. The full release is slated for September 2020.