Students’ comments

impression book

This August I again took a two-week course in Ikaria. And again, it was a very pleasant experience.

This year there were 14 students and our group consisted of 6 people.

I noticed several very welcome changes:

  • The classes were always held in the mornings. This way it was possible to spend the afternoons studying at the beach.
  • Each day we were able to order food from the tavern Plaka in Pera Arethousa.
  • A few times a day it was possible to take a shuttle to Evdilos, Kerame, Kyparisi or Karavostamo.
  • Several new activities were added. For example we had several excellent dancing lessons with Despina, we learned a nice song and we had an excellent movie night with a silly 60s Greek comedy, pop-corn and pancakes.

Again, all teachers were excellent, kind and well prepared. I thoroughly enjoyed grammar lessons with Tonia, conversation classes with Maria and reading interesting texts with Mihalis.

The Centre has a lot to offer. For example, I loved my breakfasts with Greek yogurt, honey, grapes and fresh succulent figs which grew in abundance in the area around the centre.

I can not recommend highly enough the centre, the methods and the teachers. My Modern Greek improved significantly after both visits.

Over two weeks on the Greek island of Ikaria, the author learns the language at Ikarian Centre — and some life lessons

“…On the flight to Ikaria, armed with a book of basic Greek phrases, I sit next to Loles, a gregarious Spanish woman also headed for the Ikarian Centre Greek language school. We chat in Greek. My grasp of the language is only basic, but I manage to catch that this is Loles’s fourth visit to the school. We hit it off and chatter for the rest of the flight. The Greek gods are at work.

At Ikaria’s tiny airport, a man with a wide smile and unruly curls greets me. He hands me a set of keys and directs me to a well-worn Chevy. When I ask about the rental-car contract, he shrugs. “The office is closed on Sundays,” he says. “Drop by whenever you have time.”

Read more at Washington Post:
Lessons in language and life on the Greek island of Ikaria – The Washington Post

Seit 6 Jahren lerne ich griechisch. Nach 2 Sprachkursen bei einer anderen Organisation wollte ich Neues probieren. Ich fand einen Kurs von 12. – 23. Mai bei Michalis auf Ikaria Wir waren 5 Teilnehmer in 2 Gruppen. Der Unterricht gestaltete sich abwechslungs-reich mit Texten, Übungen, Spielen Projekten, und “Freizeitprogramm” mit Singen, Kochen, Ausflügen. Von morgens bis abends nur griechisch – wie sonst unterhält man sich, wenn Teilnehmer und Lehrer aus 7 unterschiedlichen Ländern kommen. Von “Guten Morgen” bis “Gute Nacht” – das war wirklich sehr intensiv. Michalis und Nina verstanden es, jeden auf seinem Niveau anzusprechen und zu motivieren. Vielen Dank für eure Freundlichkeit, Herzlichkeit und die vielen Gespräche. Wir waren “Familie”. Danke für die vielen Unterlagen, Grammatik, Übungen – im Winter beim warmen Kachelofen werde ich noch einmal alles durcharbeiten. Ich komme wieder – versprochen!

For 6 years now I am learning Greek. After 2 courses with another organisation I wanted to try some New. I found Michalis on Ikaria and booked from 12. – 23. May 2015. We were 5 people in 2 groups. The lessons were varied with text, exercises, games, projects and “after-work” with cooking, singing, excursions. From the morning until the evening only “greek” – how else could you communicate, when participants and teachers come from 7 different countries. From “good morning” until “good night” – that was very intens indeed. Michalis and Nina knew how to speek with us on our personal level. Thank you very much for your kindness, warmth and many talks. We were “family” indeed. Thank you for so many papers, grammers, exercises – in wintertime I will work through all that once again. I will come back – I promise
Andrea Sartori

Apprendre le grec est un projet que j’ai depuis quelques années mais que j’avais toujours mis de côté par manque de temps, priorité, etc. Il y a un an, j’ai décidé d’agir et je me suis donc inscrite au stage de 3 semaines en aout 2015 à l’Ikarian Centre.

J’ai opté pour le logement gratuit, une des cabines situées dans le Centre, que j’ai partagé avec une charmante étudiante ukrainienne. Les cabines étaient propres (nettoyées tous les deux jours) et commodes, avec des fenêtres qui donnaient sur une vallée et la mer.

En tout, nous étions 14 étudiants, venus des quatre coins du monde (Angleterre, Australie, Espagne, Italie, Slovénie, Suisse…), divisés par groupes en 3 niveaux. Ne sachant même pas comment déchiffrer l’alphabet, je faisais partie du groupe débutant, avec 3 autres étudiants qui n’avaient jamais appris le grec non plus.

Nous avions 5 heures de cours par jour, 3.5 le matin (divisé en 3 parties avec un professeur et une salle différents pour chacune) et 1.5 l’après midi. Les cours débutants étaient principalement dirigés en anglais, mais avec de plus en plus de grec au fil du temps. Les professeurs expliquaient clairement tous les concepts grammaticaux et utilisaient une grande variété d’activités pédagogiques, en mettant l’accent sur l’expression orale.

Et les résultats étaient frappants. Après qu’un jour seulement, j’étais capable de lire et ecrire l’alphabet grec. Après une semaine j’étais capable de parler de moi-même et de mon entourage et à la fin du stage, j’étais capable d’avoir une (très simple) conversation. De zéro à une vrai conversation !

En dehors des cours, mes 3 semaines à l’Ikarian Centre furent inoubliables. L’ile elle-même est magnifique et l’équipe de l’Ikarian Center a tout fait pour nous la faire découvrir. Nous avions des sorties tous les deux jours, soit pour se balader dans les montagnes à couper le souffle, pour nager dans des plages perdues ou pour visiter des sites historiques et culturels.

Si vous lisez ces commentaires c’est parce que vous êtes déjà intéressé par la langue grecque et Ikaria. Que ce soit pour débuter, pour vous remettre à niveau ou pour approfondir vos compétences, je vous encourage tous de vous intégrer dans un stage à l’Ikarian Centre.

I am Spanish, 27yo, mathematician, and I study Greek for fun, because I love the country and its people and lived in Athens for a few months yeas ago. I did the summer course and I definitely recommend the Ikarian Centre: great lessons, beautiful school in the mountain, Greek beaches and local parties in small villages. The lessons: with my experience in language courses, these lessons were the best we could have. We were 4 students in the intermediate level, and a typical lesson would consist of: 1) Around 1.5h with Mihalis and Despina e.g. reading an interesting text and learning vocabulary; 2) Around 1.5h with Tonia e.g. doing some grammar in a way that you never get bored and 3) Around 1h with Maria doing games to practice and integrate in your speech what you have just studied. The lessons are 100% participation and discussion, and the fact that you change teachers and environment makes it more complete and entertaining. You get as much homework as you want (reading or listening texts, writing compositions, a bit of grammar exercises), and we typically did it in the beach bar in the afternoon. My Greek truly improved! The experience: isolate 15 very nice and interesting people in a mountain, cause if you study modern Greek your are quite probably a nice crazy person, and you get an explosion of feelings, sharing, understanding and peace (add all the hippy bullshit that you want here, it is really nice). Despina, Tonia and Maria play a key role here: they are MUCH more than teachers, for a couple of weeks they also become your friends, guides, sisters, cook&dance teachers etc. A sort of free utopic society emerges temporarily. Then Mihalis’ mum, who is around 87yo and lives nearby, would come and tell you stories of the war and correct your Greek mistakes, some sort of intense conversation class. Everyday there is some activity such as panigiri (local party), open air cinema or excursion, so you won’t get bored at all. No matter your age. The island: Ikaria is a unique place, the Red Rock in the Blue Zone. Which means that the inhabitants are extreme left, free and happy and therefore live 100 years. But you can read about this elsewhere, I’m bored of it.

Voici mon commentaire bi-lingue ! (mais pas encore en grec…) The curses Center is located in a very beautiful area, with a wonderful view of the sea and the mountains. It is a little far from Evdilos (20 minutes by car). The lessons are well organized, with educational tools to made learning the vocabulary and grammar easier. Sometimes, I found the lesson was a little too fast for me as I am a beginner. I had to word very hard between the lessons, but it was necessary. I would have liked to learn much more about the Island life and culture but we did not have a lot of time. The group was very nice (we were 5 people from 5 different countries). Nous étions logés à Evdilos, à l’hôtel Atheras, qui nous a bien convenu (chambre un peu petite mais propre, pas très cher, petit balcon, tenu par des personnes sympathiques). Nous n’avons pu profité de sa piscine qui n’a ouvert qu’à la fin de notre séjour mais comme on était hors saison, on avait aussi le plaisir d’un hôtel silencieux. Les cours ayant lieu à Arethousa, nous faisions la navette 2 fois par jour (matin et soir), 20 minutes à chaque fois, par une route, certes belle, mais un peu longue et sinueuse, ce qui était une perte de temps qu’on aurait pu passer à autre chose (réviser, se balader…) et ce qui est aussi contraignant pour les organisateurs. Sans doute, des solutions à imaginer pour alterner les cours à Arethousa où le centre est installé dans un bel endroit, et Evdilos, où il est agréable de flâner dans les cafés, de faire ses courses, de rencontrer du monde (relatif). Malgré ça, j’ai beaucoup apprécié les cours, le sérieux de l’organisation et l’ambiance chaleureuse de l’équipe et des autres participants. Pendant que je faisais l’élève studieuse, mon mari arpentait les sentiers de randonnée de l’île. Belles balades en solitaire dans les vallons et sur les crêtes avec des sentiers pas toujours bien indiqués ni entretenus et des petites chapelles signalées sur Internet mais parfois introuvables sur le terrain (heureusement, les habitants de l’île sont toujours prêts à aider le visiteur). De belles découvertes pour qui aime le « petit » patrimoine, la pierre sèche et les paysages grandioses. Je n’ai pu faire qu’une randonnée avec le groupe, dans un vallon ombragé de platanes, cyprès, figuiers, creusé par un torrent d’eau claire avec cascades, cuvettes, grenouilles… Un régal. Et nous avons aussi profité des plages (presque vides) et de la fraîcheur de l’eau. En bref, un très bon séjour, à la fois studieux, reposant, intéressant, sympathique. De belles rencontres aussi. Merci à Mihalis et à Nina pour leur sérieux, leur disponibilité et leur accueil chaleureux. Thanks a lot to Mihalis and Nina for being so available and for their kindness. Thanks to all for the great atmosphere. On reviendra ! Danielle P.S. Ci-joint quelques photos de balades et du stage. Au printemps, l’île est très verte…

WP_20150522_13_10_21_Pro 1

Watercolour, postcard size. Bea Banfi 2015

Realised during artistic residency in Ikaria

An extraordinary and expiring place, Ikaria has everything an artists needs – colours and a very diverse nature, lovely towns, a peaceful Environment – and white sand and clear sea when you need some test! Team of people very friendly and beautiful and big guesthouse. Definitely recommend.

I am a huge fan of Greek islands. Five years ago I finally started learning Modern Greek. After completing the two excellent Pimsleur’s audio courses I took several consecutive Modern Greeek courses at the Ljubljana University. I am very grateful to my Greek teacher Mrs. Vasso Varsamakidou who taught me so much about Greek language and culture.

Although I learned a lot and I visit Greece as often as possible I desperately needed an opportunity to spend some time in an authentic environment where I’d be forced to use Greek only. In August 2012 I took a two-week intensive course in Chania. I loved the experience and I was surprised how much my Greek improved.

After spending three perfect weeks at the beaches of southern Crete and Gavdos I traveled to Ikaria to spend two weeks in August 2014 at Michalis’ centre. It is impossible to describe in words how perfect experience it was.

Each day I spent five hours learning Greek: 2.5 hours discussing very interesting articles with Michalis and 2.5 hours learning grammar with Tonia. My group consisted of only two students, me and Irene, a very intelligent and warm professor of political sciences from Spain who spoke Greek almost perfectly. I am a teacher myself and I cannot praise highly enough the very simple yet very effective methods which were used during the course.

In my spare time I studied a lot and I tried to prepare myself for the lessons which followed.

The centre is very well equipped. I lived in a comfortable double room with a small kitchen. There is also a large open kitchen with a washing machine and a nice open space where you can socialize with other students. All of them were very interesting and very friendly. Another bonus was Michalis’ mum Anna who was always willing to talk to you. A few times we spent several hours chatting.

The centre is far from everything. It takes about an hour to walk to Karavostamo and about 20 minutes to get to Arethousa. In Arethousa there is a mini market and a very simple tavern. There is an excellent tavern in Pera Arethousa about 15 minutes from the village. You do need a car or a motorbike to visit the nearby beaches.

The area around the centre is beautiful. The island is unusually green. You are surrounded by fig, chestnut and almond trees. I started my days jogging for more than an hour. I was rewarded by the intense smell of the Mediterranean herbs and by the wonderful views of the nearby mountains and the sea.

My main goal was to learn Greek as much as possible, but I was also able to see some interesting parts of Ikaria. Michalis is a very warm and friendly person. Several times he took us to the beach, we went hiking in the hills behind Armenistis and on one of the nights he cooked a tasty traditional Greek dinner. I also joined my fellow students on their trips to the nearby beaches and villages.

My experience was so positive that I decided to visit Michalis’ centre again in August 2015. The lessons and the dormitory will be moved to the village which is probably a very good idea. Although I liked the centre in the middle of nowhere, it gradually became a chore to walk to the nearest store in Arethousa.

I spent two weeks in Ikaria having had the program recommended to me by a colleague. I’m a professor of ancient Greek and so know something both about learning and teaching languages: I thought the course was fantastic. The teaching style was dynamic and thorough. The teachers demanded a lot, but it never felt like too much and this they did always with patience and good humour. Their teaching style was enviable (to me as a teacher of languages) and their commitment to our learning was total. Before attending the course, I had no knowledge of Modern Greek beyond three hours of Pimsleur audio files (which by the way are excellent). In two weeks, we managed to cover almost all aspects of Greek syntax, and were given ample opportunity to practice speaking and writing through interactive exercises that were well conceived and really fun. I spoke a lot, wrote a lot and also laughed a lot. There were also the traditional teaching practices that I really appreciate, like dictation. As for the other students on the course, they were all mature and extremely committed to learning, and very helpful to a beginner. The environment fostered by the school is collaborative and constructive. The activities outside of class were a lot of fun, too, and gave further opportunity to practice speaking Greek. We went on a beautiful hike, visited a unique monastery, cooked a few times, watched a film, sang Greek songs and danced. As for the location, the remoteness of Ikaria is perfect for people who want to hunker down and learn and leaves this beautiful island unspoilt by excessive tourism. I wish I could have done the course longer this year. I would certainly take another course here again and hope to do so next year.

It was not a good idea for me to come to Ikaria By airplane because Arethousa is so far away from the airport and I was afraid all the time in my taxidrive!I think that the taxijourney was very expencive too. I have Holiday now and the better way for me is the boat to Evdilo.
Taxidrivers in the airport did not know where is Ikariancenter and I did´nt know the name of the village Arethousa so one of them called to Mihaelis and asked the way. In my papers from Mihaelis I did not have the name ARETHOUSA!
The course was very good and I enjoyed everything there very much. I learned much and the evenings were very good and all the people too.We had very good time together, for example cooked food together 2 times and it was very nice and the food was very good. We had partys 3 times and it was great.
I really want to tell all of you who are thinking what to do that this cource is very good . Stop thinking and DO IT because we all have only one (1) live! Merja, FINLAND

I have been learning greek for quite some years now and have always wanted to go on a summer school where you can take an intensive language class, however most such classes last for a month or two which can be hard to combine with work or other plans. Luckily I got to know about the greek language course in Ikaria through some people in my greek class in Norway. Some of them had been to Ikaria many times and were praising the place and the teaching method. I decided to go on a two weeks course and as you can imagine I had really high expectations.I was not disappointed – it is the best language class I have ever been to. The teachers are very good, the classes are small, and the teaching method is excellent. It is a good mix between grammar, vocabulary, listening excercice and language games in order to get us to practice our new words. If you want to practice your speaking skills, I highly recommend you take this course. Personally I really like the funny games we play in order to remember the words. I cannot remember having laughed till I cried at any other greek class I have been to.Living at the centre gives you lots and lots of opportunity to practice your greek, both in class as well as before and after. And the course is so much more than the classes. Nearly every day there is an additional programme which means you will get the chance to learn how to cook greek food, learn about an interesting topic, learn greek songs, watch movies, and go hiking to mention a few. Another good thing about living at the centre is that you really get to know the other students. Spending so much time with other greek and grammar enthusiasts was a joy!As you probably have understood I had two wonderful weeks and my expectations were more than met. I will definitely go back to Ikaria in the future, and hope to see some of you there.

Kaja Ebbing

What can I say about my experience that nobody has already expressed? For me, when the time came to leave, I couldn’t remember what life was like anywhere else in the world. But that’s just it… in Ikaria, you are able to forget the world and focus on what it is that you came for… Each morning, I awoke to the soft sound of bells on sheep and to the crows of roosters. The sun bled in through my window lighting up the surrounding hills and making the sea sparkle. But back to the point of this text – you must want to know about the effectiveness of the course? I, personally, have been living in Athens for the past year and have dabbled in language courses. This course helped me to gel together my grammar notions. We learned a lot, but in a way that was digestible. We read texts, which were accompanied by MP3 players to be able to hear Greek. We learned a lot of new vocabulary and each class was tailored to our personal grammar needs. Outside of class, we built friendships—we experienced things together that I will never be able to forget. I can definitely say that I feel a great improvement in my Greek language skills after completing this course. I would and will continue lessons with the Ikarian Centre in the future (as many of my classmates have already done).
Laura Weikel

Cari amici che avete voglia di andare all’ Ikarian Centre a Salonicco, andateci!! Ho frequentato un corso di due settimane (agosto ’11) ed e’ stata un’esperienza assolutamente positiva. Dal punto di vista linguistico l’insegnamento e’ improntato molto sulla parte orale, conversazioni, dialoghi, canzoni, film (al cinema) senza pero’ trascurare la parte scritta e grammaticale. Abbiamo inoltre incontrato persone, greche e straniere, che vivono e lavorano a Salonicco, abbiamo fatto giri per la citta’ con chi ci ha raccontato aneddoti e storie in modo molto amichevole e per niente noioso, siamo andati sul Monte Olimpo. Se verrete qui a Salonicco avrete anche la possibilita’ di girare, anche quando siete per conto vostro, una citta’ interssante dal punto di vista storico e molto vivace, che la sera vi offre la possibilita’ di vivere serate tra la gente del posto, cosa che considero tra le piu’ interessanti quando si viaggia. Silvia

I attended a two-week Greek course in Thessaloniki and I must say that I am very satisfied.

I had studied the language two hours a week for only 8 months before I arrived in Greece and I wasn’t really able to speak or understand properly. Now at the end of the course I can communicate much better with the Greeks and also my comprehension has improved a lot.

I was one of the students with less vocabulary and grammar and that is why I could learn so much during my stay here. The course was supposed to last for 40 hours, but actually our teacher spent much more time with us, thus we could practice also in the evenings and during the weekend. We all got along well and that is why we often spent our leisure time together. I liked how the course was organised, with a good mixture of grammar, exercises, listening comprehension and conversation also with Greek people, who were invited to come and talk to us. And if we had any problem or question, we could really feel free to ask.

I also liked Thessaloniki. I walked many hours to get an impression of the city, to visit churches and go to the museums. As the course took place in August, we also went to the beaches outside the city, because in the centre it is forbidden to swim.