THE HELLENIC LINK, Inc.
Member Update- BULLETIN
Editorial Committee: Ahilleas Adamantiades, Evangelia Georgoulea, Maria-Eleftheria Giatrakou, Dean C. Lomis, Katherine Efthymiatou-Stabile
Contributing Editors: Dimitrios Oreopoulos, Andreas Adams, Evangelos Calamitsis
Acting Editor: Constantine Efthymiou
No. 94, January, 2011 - Supplement
On the State of Hellenic Education in America
The traditional celebration of Greek Letters this month in conjunction with the Commemoration of the three Hierarchs of Byzantium, Sts. John the Chrysostom, Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian offers a proper opportunity not only for inspiring and exalting rhetoric, but also for an inventory of down to earth efforts on behalf of humanistic studies in the context of Hellenic Culture.
The readers of the Bulletin are familiar with the Hellenic Link’s, Inc. serious and systematic efforts for meaningful contributions in the direction of Greek studies; at this particular juncture, we would like to inform our readers of important developments in the pursuit of our educational endeavors.
Development of a “Hellenic Education Plan for America”, “modular teaching” of themes of Hellenic Culture, “distance teaching” of the Greek language, and training of teachers of Greek language and civilization in American institutions of higher learning are concepts being promulgated and to a certain degree advanced towards implementation by a creative and assertive “Advisory Council on Hellenic Education”. Admittedly, the proposed innovations do have to run their developmental course before they can have a perceptible effect on Paideia. Nevertheless, a particular project, undertaken by a Task-Force committee is in an active stage of development nearing actualization: “National Standards for Modern Greek Learning”. On this issue, we are pleased to report significant progress. Public enlightenment in this matter, we believe, is not only timely, but also is essential for making the community aware and actively participant.
A Report on the National Standards Task-Force
The extant diversity of forms of the Greek language and lack of homogeneity and codification, coupled with a critical shortage of professionals fluent in Greek and having the requisite skills to teach Greek to children and adults, depict a state of neglect and instructional weakness in the teaching of Modern Greek justifying the rationale for the development of standards.
The establishment of National Standards for teaching Modern Greek will set goals which will allow the proper framework for the Modern Greek Language to grow and develop further. The Standards will provide guidelines and examples via “learning scenarios” for the whole range of primary-secondary-tertiary education (grades K-16).
In defining its mission, the Task Force states that “establishing standards will promote better learning practices, strong curricula at the local and national levels, better assessment practices, and opportunities for the professionalization of teachers of Modern Greek.”
The Hellenic Link, Inc. (H-L) and the Modern Greek Language Teachers Association (MGLTA) are working synergistically to see this project through under the approval, operational framework and partnership of the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).
H-L, as multi-disciplinary cultural and scientific association, is the initiating NGO-sponsor and the MGLTA is the professional organization in the field of education most directly involved in the application of teaching standards for the Greek language.
The Advisory Council on Hellenic Education, the appropriate entity within the H-L, is providing experts and other resources for the project in the context of the “Hellenic Education Plan for America” (H-L, New York 2005). MGLTA is an organized community of educators whose mission is to offer learning ideas and to instill a strong professional spirit and a growing sense of partnership. The MGLTA serves as an articulate and strong advocate for the field it represents. It provides a suitable professional environment for discussion and actual work for the development of standards.
The H-L, in a broad collaboration, has established a nation-wide Task-Force Committee (TF)
to collect and evaluate Greek language learning standards and curricula, already existing in states and universities (e.g., New York, Delaware, and Florida) and to write Standards for Modern Greek- learning in America. The committee consists of experienced Greek language instructors in elementary, secondary or post-secondary Greek language programs.
Elpida Bairaktaris, Teacher, Odyssey Charter School, Delaware
Dr. Peter Bien, Professor Emeritus of the Department of English, Dartmouth College
Nancy Biska, Adjunct Professor of Modern Greek, Adelphi University
Dr. Gregory Fulkerson, Education Associate for World Languages and International Education, Delaware Department of Education
Dr. Maria Hnaraki, Director of Greek Studies, Drexel University, PA
Dr. Constantine Hatzidimitriou, Senior School/District Improvement & Project Director, TAH, NYC DOE Support
Stella Kokolis, Federation of Hellenic Educators and Cultural Association
Dr. Ioanna P. Lekkakou, Greek Language Instructor, Sacramento State University; Drama & Greek Language, Teacher, YES Charter School, Dobbins, CA
Dr. Aristotle Michopoulos, Professor and Chairman of the Greek Studies Department, Hellenic Studies Department at Hellenic College/Holy Cross
Zoi Philippakos, Teacher, Odyssey Charter School, Delaware
Dr. Eva Prionas, Lecturer in Modern Greek; Coordinator, Special Language Program, Stanford University
National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL),
Modern Greek Language Teachers Association (MGLTA), President
Dr. Vassiliki Rapti, Preceptor in Modern Greek, Harvard University
Modern Greek Studies Program, Department of the Classics
Dr. Vasiliki Tsigas-Fotinis, Modern Greek Language Standards Project Director
Lecturer in Education & Educational Leadership, Caldwell College and Kean University
Additional Greek scholars/educators have offered to serve in development of other aspects of the Standards project. Their names will be announced when the respective committees begin functioning.
Just prior to the Annual Meeting of the ACTFL (November 18-20, 2010), the TF Committee held an intensive two-day meeting. In addition to considering a previously drafted outline proposal and other documents pertaining to the development of standards for teaching Modern Greek, the specific purpose of their meeting was to familiarize all its members with the scope and procedures of the project and to determine the most appropriate contribution of each participant on the basis of their expertise. They also focused on language-specific issues and established their modus operandi through online collaboration. The proposal for “Modern Greek Standards” was presented to the Board of the ACTFL by a three-member team of the TF: Dr. Eva Prionas, Dr. Vassiliki Rapti, and Dr. Vasiliki Tsigas-Fotinis, The ACTFL Board received favorably the presentation of the drafted Proposal by our three colleagues. A course of continued advisement, exchange of messages and cooperation was set at the meeting.
In its agenda for the tasks ahead, the TF has planned the collaborative composition of a “Greek Standards” write-up as their objective for the next few months. Its members will be continuously in communication, offering specific inputs, while also planning plenary session meetings at different locations around the country to advance the required writing. In accordance with the guidelines of the CCTFL, the primary draft of the TF Committee will be examined and upgraded by a board of reviewers. In a final step, the document will be evaluated and finalized by an advisory council of experts. The revised draft will then be posted on several web sites for a feedback from Greek language instructors and the community at large. The writing process is expected to be completed towards the end of the year, when the final copy of the Standards will be submitted to the ACTFL Conference for approval.
Ratification of the Standards for Modern Greek Learning will be followed by their inclusion in the next edition of “Standards for Foreign Languages Learning in the 21st Century”. The act will signify the official endorsement of the teaching of Modern Greek in schools of the United States of America.
The TF has made known to us that the procedural steps outlined in the above paragraphs will entail expenses of funds presently unavailable. The only recourse the Task-Force committee has is to appeal to the community at-large for support. Lack of support will impede the completion of the task and possibly risk its termination. We are addressing their appeal to everyone and especially to all our members and Bulletin readers:
We appeal to everyone to support this effort as generously as possible. This tax-exempt monetary donation is requested to promote and sustain the learning of the Greek language in America. The success of this effort is for the benefit of the children and grandchildren, for a more meaningful enrichment of American Education, and for an investment in the future of Hellenism, in this country and around the world!
Please make your contribution payable to: Hellenic Link, Inc/ Task Force for Modern Greek Standards and mail it today to The Hellenic Link, Inc., Suite 278, 38-11 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, New York 11105. Please remember: Your contribution is tax-exempt!
Greece is to Overhaul its Education Programs Abroad
In a press conference in Athens earlier this month, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou and Alternate Minister Fofi Gennimata outlined some radical changes that the Greek government is contemplating for the teaching of the Greek language abroad, administered by their Ministry. The program is extended to 72 countries, 57 of which have Greek studies programs at university level. In 2009, it involved 2350 teachers of the Greek civil service, who were assigned abroad. The total payroll cost for the state rose to 68 million Euros. This amount was cited as prohibitive and as the main reason, along with a variety of other difficulties, for the impending drastic revision of the program. The planned changes will be unveiled in Greece for the start of public dialogue in March; the dialogue will lead to a draft bill to rationally regulate funding, as well as the assignment of teachers to schools abroad. The proposed dialogue, as it was announced, will focus on ten key areas of the new system of support for the teaching and learning of Greek in foreign countries:
Assessment of teaching, administrative restructure of Greek-expatriate schools,
greater transparency, cooperation between expatriate communities and the teachers assigned from Greece, promoting forms of Greek language education that can blend with the educational system of the host country, developing cultural centers to promote Greek culture, social networking, developing the cross-cultural identity of expatriates, developing preschool programs, and boosting Greek studies and research at foreign universities are promoted to be the main objectives of the reorganized process.
It is noteworthy, that the implementation of some of these innovations is in line with the objectives pursued by professional groups abroad (e.g., the current effort to introduce standards of teaching and learning of Greek in the education system of the United States at the national, inter-state level, reported in the above section). We are pleased to notice the innovations planned by the Greek Ministry of Education. For the success of these plans, it is of paramount importance that the dialogue is not confined to Greece alone. The American-Greek community, composed of several generations of American-born Hellenes as well as of expatriates, should be engaged in the determination of any decisions affecting Hellenic Education in America.
C. J. E.
On-Line Course in Modern Greek Offered Free
In cooperation with the Institute for Language and Speech Processing (ILSP)/
“Athena” Research Center, the Hellenic Link, Inc. is offering as a service to the community a series of Greek language lessons on its Web site: http://www.helleniclink.org ( on a 24/7 schedule)
On the home page of the site, upper left corner, click on “Learning Greek”
to be introduced to a series of fifteen lessons of the filoglossia+ courseware.
Please inform anyone who would be interested in learning Greek of this service.
Professionals and students in every discipline or field of endeavor, whether of Greek Descent or Philhellenes, are cordially invited to join the membership of the Hellenic Link, Inc. It is quite easy and useful! Just contact us at any of the indicated addresses.
THE HELLENIC LINK, Inc.
A NON PROFIT CULTURAL AND SCIENTIFIC ASSOCIATION
OF HELLENES AND PHILHELLENES
INCORPORATED IN DELAWARE
Suite No. 278, 38-11 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, New York 11105
Web Site: http://www.helleniclink.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Telephone : (718) 217- 0430