Book Review — Modern Greek For Classicists by Ilias Kolokouris

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My review of Modern Greek for Classicists, a graded reader for people learning the language of the modern people of Greece.

TLDR summary

Modern Greek For Classicists - Cover.jpg

Modern Greek for Classicists1 (MGFC, for short) is a graded reader for people who are learning Modern Greek and have some interest in the Ancient Greek world. I highly recommend it to people learning Modern Greek!

Great way to improve your reading skills in Greek

If you aren’t familiar with graded readers, a graded reader is a type of book where the chapters are organized by difficulty levels. As you progress chapter by chapter through the book, you are gradually introduced to more complex grammar and vocabulary.

In MGFC, each chapter tells a short story about our hero, Alexander the Small, a boy living in modern Athens. Alexander goes on a series of adventures, where he is magically transported to the past and meets figures from Greek mythology. At the end of each chapter, there are a series of questions to test your comprehension.

As a graded reader should, the book throws you right into the middle of Greek, with very little English to help you out. This means you will quickly be forced to learn more and more Greek and read from the beginning as a native speaker would.

Useful tool just for learning Modern Greek or on the path to Ancient Greek

The book was perfect for me, as I am learning Modern Greek to help me eventually learn Ancient Greek, so the book’s theme fits well. Also, the book has an introduction comparing Ancient Greek to Modern Greek.

But even if you are only interested in Modern Greek, this would be a great way to improve your reading abilities.

Learn some Greek basics before starting this book

Since this book jumps straight into real Greek sentences and the alphabet, you will need some Greek knowledge before starting MGFC.

Before starting this book, I used two resources that I recommend as a great way to start Greek:

  1. Duolingo — The famous and widely used language learning app will teach you the alphabet, how Greek is pronounced, basic grammar, and vocabulary. I did Duolingo daily for three months.
  2. Language Transfer Greek — This audio course of 120 lessons (approximately 5-10 minutes per lesson) will also give you a solid knowledge of Greek grammar and vocabulary. I finished the entire series in about two months of doing two daily lessons.

I used both Duolingo and Language Transfer simultaneously, which complemented each other. And after those three months, I was in great shape to use MGFC.

Here’s how I used this book, following the advice from others about how to use graded readers. For each chapter:

  1. First reading — Try to read the chapter from beginning to end without looking up any words in the dictionary.
  2. Write a quick summary of the chapter in Greek
  3. Second reading — Reread the chapter without looking anything up, then write another summary in Greek.
  4. Third reading — Read it very closely, and take notes of any words you didn’t understand.
  5. Using the notes you took, look up each unknown word in the dictionary.
  6. Fourth reading — Reread the chapter one more time. By now, you should understand almost everything.
  7. Write another summary of the chapter.
  8. That’s it! Move on to the next chapter now.

Afterward, feel free to go back to previous chapters and reread them. Each time, you will discover new things.

Note: See more about graded readers at How to use a graded reader.

Some additional resources

The book’s publisher, the Paideia Institute, offers an online course with the book as the course material. See Modern Greek for Classicists online course at Paideia Institute.

The author, Ilias Kolokouris, has created a set of supporting videos, which are freely available on Youtube: - Supporting grammar videos by the author (YouTube) - Animated videos of each lesson, from the author (YouTube)

Finally, you can buy it online at many bookshops, including Modern Greek for Classicists (Paideia Institute) and Modern Greek for Classicists (Amazon).

Round Up!

Great book! I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Further Reading