The Psyhogeos Program

The Modern Greek Language Series has grown out of the need for a comprehensive, Beginning through Intermediate-Advanced, course for the student of the Greek language.

The program does not possess a magical or miraculous power. What it does have is a sensible curriculum, a consistent method of teaching and, an incredible organization of each lesson. If the program is applied methodically, systematically and consistently, it will produce excellent results.

Prior to outlining the program a summary of its background, conception, application and evolution is necessary.

When I started teaching Greek, at a very young age, I immediately realized that soon I would be confronted with a very difficult situation : teaching third and fourth generation Greek Americans, or students who had no connection to Hellenism or to the Greek language, with the methods available. Therefore, I decided that I had either change profession or work diligently to find a way that would help me teach Greek, as a foreign language, productively without stress and disappointment. In addition, keep my students motivated enough to want to learn the language and feel pride for a job well done.

I began an intensified effort for that purpose. The conception and development of the program took two years. During the next five years that followed, the program was tested,  reviewed, modified and transformed many times over. Finally, when it was proven suitable to respond to the needs of the students, taking Greek as a foreign language, it was adapted..

The application of the program began in the late sixties.  Students, involved, were from various universities and were taking Greek for the first time. I announced to them that there were three programs available. The first one (Group A), was brand new and although it was tested, had not as yet been applied. No books were available (Xeroxed copies were used as text books).  The other two (Groups: B and C) were going to have materials that had been used for years in many schools. Only four (out of 22) courageous students accepted the challenge. The courses began and the same effort and enthusiasm applied in teaching all three groups.

Very soon, however, the progress that Group A was demonstrating was obvious not only to students involved, but also to the students of the other two groups, who wanted to switch and join Group A. That was not possible of course, so we continued as scheduled. At the end of the five weeks, the attitude of Group A was amazing. All four students, unlike the students of Groups B & C, were anxious to go to the next level. The survey and the tests done among the students of all three groups overwhelmingly showed that the methodology used with Group A, was definitely: most effective, most successful and definitely most encouraging.  They all urged me to use only that way of teaching.

The great support and exhortation, however, came about, few years later, when a university professor was taking the course.  Enthused by her rapid progress she raved about the course to her friend, a renowned linguist. She told him that although she had taken several languages before, never she had understood the fundamentals and mechanism of a language in such a short time.  The linguist was impressed by the precision and order of the lessons and told her “if we had workable methods like this, foreign languages would have not been difficult to learn” and he continued by telling her “encourage your instructor to publish her work.” I thanked him writing a letter to him and I asked if he could endorse my program. He very politely replied : “My endorsement is not necessary, .Your students will be your best public relations representatives.” He was right. That’s how it happened, by word of mouth it gained the reputation, popularity and success that the program has enjoyed..

This program requires –and this has to be emphasized- greater organization and consistency on the part of the instructor than even the students themselves. Following the program, however, and with the aid of the “Grammar and Exercise” book (which offers orderly and systematically all the grammatical elements, exercises and drills necessary for consolidation and mastery), their job is very easy.. With such organization and arrangement, the teaching of the Greek language becomes a wonderful experience.

The Program was based on three basic points:

a) What to teach
b) When to teach it
c) How to teach it

a) What to teach :

The curriculum consists of the: elements requisite for the learning a language; grammatical structures necessary for better comprehension of the mechanics of the language; extensive vocabulary, essential in order to use the oral and written speech with relative ease; short, interesting stories which read and translated invigorate the students and motivate them to read and study further. Achieving all the above is easy when the well organized lesson plan of the program is followed with consistency.

b) When to teach it

The priority, importance and the necessary drill, allowed on each grammatical element, play a very important role. The objective case, for example, due to its usefulness in the application of the vocabulary in sentences and conversation, is taught almost immediately to facilitate the student in the use of the new words. We let the plural and other cases for subsequent lessons. This way the class gains confidence by being in a position to correctly apply whatever they have learned.  The same applies to verbs. Every conjugation is taught separately.

The three most commonly used tenses (present, simple past and simple future), are taught first along with each conjugation. The exercises and drill involve around that.

When the student masters the conjugation and formation of the three tenses then we are ready to proceed to the imperative, the negative imperative and the subjunctive. All that given in the simplified, comprehensible manner that The Psyhogeos Program stresses, gives the students something concrete and tangible to work with. Thus, they become encouraged and the knowledge they acquire becomes the motivating force that propels them to advance.

c) How to teach it

In order to teach everything is needed, without making the learning of the language a nightmare, the approach you take is very important. Even though all the grammatical rules are given in an intensified way, by following the methodical, systematically simplified approach of the program, in conjunction with the English equivalent, the students achieves fluency. This is accomplished due to the fact they comprehend what they learn and not only assimilate it but, most importantly, they retain what they learn.

Every element, every rule that it is taught is isolated and we are involved exclusively with that particular segment. For example when we deal with verbs of the first conjugation, the entire lesson will revolve around this particular subject (i.,e., exercises, drilling, and conversation contain only verbs of that group). The students become confident and motivated when they discover that they are able to conjugate, form the tenses and apply all they learn while acquire the ability to converse fairly well. For this reason we try very hard to avoid verbs belonging to the second conjugation or in the passive voice. Soon enough, the rest of the categories will be taught and the students will benefit enormously by the isolation
and they would have been spared confusion..

Simplification; Intensity; Isolation and Elucidation in English, are the most important characteristics of The Psyhogeos Program.  I do disagree completely with those who maintain that English should not be used. It is an outdated point of view. If the students do not absorb what they are taught, in their own language, they become overwhelmed, confused, lose their interest and enthusiasm and in the end, what it was learned superficially, cannot possibly be retained.

A parenthesis is needed here to express my personal experience in learning a language under such methodology. One of the principal factors that contributed to my effort to develop a more effective teaching, a foreign language, program, was precisely the fact that such an immersion method had failed me. Although I thought I was progressing well, while I was studying French, not having had a sound understanding and concrete foundation of what I was taught, I, not only failed to become proficient, but also, a few years later, I had totally forgotten all that I had superficially memorized.  Immersion programs do work when students live for long periods of time in the country of the target language.

I strongly believe that the most important impetuses for someone studying a foreign language are: enthusiasm and interest for the language. Bringing these forces forth you succeed
in motivating and inspiring them to strive for a successful outcome. This thrust is cultivated by presenting the language in an encouraging and not in an intimidating manner. Having that as an objective one can be assured of success.

My original objective was to: teach Greek by motivating my students and instill in them love and appreciation for the language and culture and raising their expectations for greater achievement.

The strict criterion of The Psyhogeos Program is that, the techniques and principles be presented simply, methodically and strictly in the order each segment is introduced.

All the books and materials of the program are geared to teach the student, in an intensified, yet simple and concise manner, the fundamentals of the Greek language. Everything, even the most complex aspects of the language, is presented simply yet orderly, plainly but with a well organized plan. and that’s what makes the difference for the student to consider the learning of the language a very pleasant participation. The secret of its success is the fact that, besides the simplified rules and basic presentation, the written and oral exercises (ranging from simple manipulation to structural and idiomatic usage), strive for controlled response to an open communicative interaction.

The students, seeing their progress, soon become very competitive and do their best to write the best essay, the most interesting speech and exhibit their best possible performance in order to become fluent.