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English in Greece
By Javier (Y5C, 2006-07)

Greece is not an English-speaking-country. When you ask a Greek person about becoming an English-speaking-country, they always say “Why?!” Every Greek feels proud of being part of their country, because Greece was one of the most important countries in the old times. They invented maths, philosophy, music, theatre, poems and so many things that one could simply think, “Well, we have worked so hard that now we should spend the rest of history lazing* around”.

But, will their majestic past separate from English? The answer is no, it does not. Their government was practical and realized that Greek is not important today. Its influence in the world has decreased and the country’s influence in Europe is very low. The days of Magna Greece are so long passed! So eventually, they decided to give a good education focused on foreign languages. The Greek government is not efficient in other things, for instance, university exams dates are not published until a few weeks before; but this time, their planning was excellent.

A Greek person starts to learn language in their childhood, so English becomes a way of expressing yourself almost as good as Greek. In fact, Greece is the country where people get the Cambridge proficiency level the soonest. The average age is 16 years old. The European average is about 22.

These important achievement gave Greece the third or fourth place in the British Council list of highest English level (in non English speaking countries). So important is English in Greece, that to have the proficiency certificate makes your salary to be increased in 60 euros a month. In Spain this does not happen.

Finally, a little information. Greek has given more than 4,000 words to English. Greek may seem to be obsolete, but it is the base of scientific language.


*A joint discovery (Javier-Michelle): A common mistake — among native speakers too — is to spell this as “lazying around”. The verb comes from “laze”, but use rules and “lazying around” is so common that we cannot ignore this!

Learn about borrowings from Greek external link

British Council external link