Outside the comfort zone
By ANGELIKI ANAGNOSTOPOULOU*
Students spend one to two semesters learning how to communicate with their neighbours around them, from ordering a coffee to learning the celebratory phrase used for all name days, birthdays, and other holidays.
As a Professor of Modern Greek at College Year in Athens, I draw on my past academic and professional experiences every day when I enter the classroom. I spent a semester abroad in Belgium while pursuing my undergraduate degree in Greek and French Language and Literature, I completed my Master’s degree in Greek Archaeology in England, I was a teaching assistant with Socrates in a Spanish university teaching foreign languages for an academic year; my studies brought me outside my comfort zone and into unfamiliar circumstances, not dissimilar to the CYA student experience.
I understand how crucial the academic component is the study abroad experience and can use my own background to better my classroom. Additionally, I have over twenty years of active work experience exclusively with foreign language instruction. I have produced language-learning materials and co-authored a Modern Greek companion textbook, all based solely on the speaking needs of my students. I have taught students from all over the world and from all different educational backgrounds–my exposure to such a variety of language learners enables me to be able to effectively teach my CYA classes, full of students from all walks of life and from the four corners of America. It brings me joy to see the work inside the classroom enrich and better the time our students spend in Greece–to see them appreciate this country through their experience with the language. My students spend one to two semesters learning how to communicate with their neighbours around them, from ordering a coffee to learning the celebratory phrase used for all name days, birthdays, and other holidays.
It is a joy to see the work in the classroom extending into the real world. One of my favorite memories is when students got together to create a personalized “Thank You” card in Greek at the end of the semester–they were able to show their appreciation in the best way possible. It is through moments like these that one can see their language learning enables the students to become a living, breathing part of the Greek society around them, and that is what study abroad is all about.
* Angeliki Anagnostopoulou (BA, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Arts, 1995, MA University of Birmingham, School of Antiquity, 1998) has taught Modern Greek since 1997 including a period at the Escuela Oficial de Idiomas, in Madrid, Spain and at the Phonie-Graphie in Paris, France, where she used theatrical techniques to encourage students’ spoken Greek. She has also translated numerous tourist guides, as well as two books, and has worked in Greek Childrens’ Museums as an animator of educational programs. She speaks English, French, Spanish and Italian and she is now in her second year of Ph.D program in Comparative Literature at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.