Since 2000, Phonie Graphie, the historical association involved with the promotion of Modern Greek language to French speakers, a benchmark for philhellene French and Greek people living in Paris, has organized workshops that aim to promote the learning of Modern Greek language through the use of various genres, including Greek poetry, theatre and shadow theatre. One of these workshops is what brought together a group of thirty French people who speak Greek, who, in a span of ten days, worked with contemporary Greek works of art. The coordinator as well as initiator of the workshop is professor Nikos Graikos.
The main theme of this year’s workshop was theatre and the students-thirty philhellenes over the age of fifty- used various works of contemporary Greek dramaturgy in order to study the Modern Greek language, improve their knowledge and enhance their language skills, including works from authors such as Loula Anagnostaki, Dimitris Kehaidis, Maria Efstathiadi as well as Dimitris Psathas.
The workshop was a combination of both theoretical and practical approaches, including dramaturgy and direction and a love for theatre. Nikos Graikos consciously motivated the participants to speak with each other, without being concerned for making mistakes, urging them to set their notebooks and notes aside and focus on speaking and listening, since language is not based on a systematic and thorough knowledge of grammar, but on familiarizing yourself with the sounds of a language.
According to Nikos Graikos, when learning a new language, what is important for him is to teach language as a system, a new way of viewing the world, which will transform learning into a process that will give the students an opportunity to live a second or third life. “I have never taught any language or culture like a Sunday school teacher, since I do not believe that there is such a thing as one linguistic or cultural truth. I teach language in a way that every person can discover an aspect of language or culture which is true for him. I do not analyze or break down Modern Greek language to its components, because for me language is a tool capable of enriching our knowledge and making us better people in the long run”.
Teaching Greek culture and language through the use of contemporary plays of Modern Greek is not a coincidence. The significance of the workshop as well as its valuable contribution to the promotion of Modern Greek dramaturgy has been highlighted and mentioned at the site of the GPP.
It is worth mentioning that the majority of the workshop participants feel that in Greece, theatre continues to affect the lives of Greek people in every aspect possible and that it is still used as a means to describe and understand their reality.