Stella Bompotsiari and her team teach Greek to people from all over the world through her online school “Greek Lessons OnLine.”
In her own words, Bompotsiari not only discusses what inspired her to start offering lessons in a unique and innovative way, but also she explains how Greek Lessons OnLine has developed over the years.
Read her story below.
I have always had the idea of an online school for Greek on my mind. When I finished my studies of Greek Literature in Greece, I started looking for a Master’s degree that would really inspire me and would be distinctive in the future of Education. In that time, I travelled a lot and I also joined my brother, Panagiotis, in NC, USA.
During my time in the United States, I realized that there were many people who wanted to learn Greek and likewise, many people wanted to go to a Greek school. However, joining a Greek school is not always possible for everyone for various different reasons… In 2005, I applied for a Master’s degree in E-Learning, offered by UCL, Institute or Education in London. My studies in E-Learning opened my eyes to a whole new world in education and it was so inspiring that, with my present business partner Pavlos, we started talking for hours about how an online school could operate!
Thank you, Universe! Like all Greeks, after acquiring my MA, I wanted to return to my country and find a job. I felt the need to implement all this new knowledge in my way of teaching. However, the financial crisis along with the high unemployment rate, were of course constraints in this effort… At that time I felt like I was the most useless and unsuccessful human being in the world. However, not having a full time job as a secondary school teacher meant that I had plenty of time to develop my plans! Together with Pavlos, we started working seriously on the design of our online Greek school. Like that Greek Lessons Online (Greek LoL) was born in 2014.
Your Greek school at home. Everything is very simple, our students just need a computer, an internet connection, a microphone, a webcam and their books. Instead of having somebody to drive them to their Greek school they just enter their Greek class from their computer! One of my young students’ parent was telling me that it took them 60 minutes to drive to the Greek school every Saturday morning and another 60 minutes to drive back home. Imagine how many creative and fun things you could do in 120 minutes…
We are citizens of the world. We have students aged between 5 and 75 and they come from many different parts of the world! Australia, Morocco, Doha, Lebanon, France, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, New Mexico, New York, Washington DC, Texas, Alabama, Oregon, while imagine that I am based in London and our other teachers live in Greece, France and Italy. Another great thing is that we all get to meet so many amazing people from all over the word, that we all share the same love for the Greek language!
We develop student-centered lessons. During our lessons we want our students –not only those who take private lessons but also those who take our group classes- to be as active as possible, to interact with the materials and not just passively watch their teacher. There is an interactive whiteboard embedded in all our virtual classrooms, so that each student has this interactive whiteboard on his/her computer screen. What could be more encouraging to participate?
Our Principles: Effective, easy, and fun. We enrich our lessons with quizzes, flashcards, videos, and songs because we want our students to interact effectively and also have fun! We are committed to making Greek language learning easy and enjoyable for all our students!
Despite the distance we are very “close” to our students. The first time I had the chance to see one of my students in person, was when Leonardo from New Mexico visited me in Greece. It took me about 5 seconds to realize that there was no screen between us…. because actually, this was the only difference.
Safety and control. Many people ask me: Stella, how do you know that a student is not on Facebook at the time of the lesson? We prevent this by having a control tool, which locks the screen to the classroom view. However, don’t you think that a teacher can tell who is paying attention to him/her and who is not?
How happy a ευχαριστώ can make me. We want our students to learn to express themselves in Greek instead of just using thank you and merci…