Saturday, October 08, 2005


Last night was the first time I spent any substantial time with my in-laws in a few weeks. My sister-in-law, on the heels of completing six medical exams in two months, was leaving for Germany bright and early this morning, and it was my father-in-law's birthday, so we had a good-bye and birthday get together.

I decided to try, for once, to ask a question in Greek. The room fell silent. All eyes turned to me. I managed to squeak out my question to my sister-in-law "pou tha menis stin Germania;" (where will you stay in Germany?), and aside from a minor correction I got it right, received my reply, and felt that I had done my Greek duty for the night. Oh no. My husband and father-in-law retreated into the other room to try to fix their ailing computer. I was left alone with with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law, and my sister-in-law kept begging me to say something else in Greek. For 2 hours she begged me to say something else in Greek. And the discussion turned to why I haven't yet mastered the Greek language even though I've been here for 3 years. My MIL, very graciously, blamed it on my husband. But she made it clear that now that I am in Thessaloniki, in close proximity to them, I will be learning Greek. They are going to get me the Greek school books children use here to learn Greek. I will no longer be able to be shy when talking. I will no longer be allowed to answer questions asked me in Greek in English. My MIL is quite serious about my education. And when my MIL is serious about something, it gets done. I actually adore her, and admire her. I couldn't have been luckier when it comes to my in-laws (no, they don't read the blog, so I'm not sucking up).

I'm still thinking it will be at least another 3 years before I am using Greek with any fluency. We'll see. The will of my MIL is strong. And I'd like to make her happy for once.


Anonymous said...

I think it's really nice your mother in law is taking such an interest in your language skills. I also agree completely with your mother in law when she blames your husband. Although it's not done intentionally, he hinders your ability to speak/learn Greek by talking in English all the time.

I've every faith in your mother in law, she is obviously very serious about this. The books will help too as will the whole you not being allowed to answer a Greek question in English. It'll be a little uncomfortable at first because there will be mistakes but it's the kind of thing where you have to think "to hell with it, I will get it right one day" and you most certainly will.

However one of the most important aids to you learning Greek is Thano, he needs maybe spend some time helping you with conversational Greek.

If not, it sounds like his mom will kick his ass now he's close by!

Niko said...

I've still got my Greek School Readers from when I was sent there....let me know if you need any help :-)

susan said...

Children's books are a great way to learn. A close second would be Greek translations of things you already know. I have a friend who says she learned to speak English by watching I Love Lucy and Gilligan's Island. Good luck.

melusina said...

You are perfectly right EllasDevil. And my mother-in-law is great. I'm not sure I could have survived Greece without her. =p

Thanks Niko. We'll see how it goes. =)

Susan, watching TV with Greek subtitles is pretty much how I've learned whatever Greek I know. It has been helpful for developing vocabulary, but the problem with it is I don't know what the words actually sound like, so often when someone is talking I might know what they are saying, but I can't recognize it. I'm hoping the children's books and the diligence of my mother-in-law will at least get me through the first major hurdles of conversational Greek. Thanks for the luck, I'm going to need it. =p

expatmama said...

Wow, I guess you are going to be working hard over the next year (or years!) But, just imagine the sense of accomplishment you'll feel when you can confidently participate in a conversation in Greek. Seriously, it's hard enough to live in a foreign country when you *can* speak the language well, I can't even imagine how it would be when that's still a struggle. Good luck!