±A - Join Our Community

Learn from the experiences of other expats and make new friends in our disccussion forums and Facebook groups

±A - Cigna

±A - Read Our Guide

The Expat Focus Guide to Moving Abroad contains everything you need to know when planning an international relocation available now, completely free

±A - Compare Quotes and Save

Insurance, FX and international movers

±A - Listen to the Podcast

The Expat Focus podcast features interviews with expats living abroad and service providers meeting their needs subscribe today!

±A - Expert Financial

From our tax, investment and FX partners

±A - ExpatFocus Partners

Expat Focus Partners

Become a Partner. Click Here.

Speaking the Language

Greece - Speaking the Language

Greek is the official language of Greece, spoken by 99 percent of the population. However, some people speak non-official minority languages and Greek dialects. Some of the most common foreign languages spoken in Greece include English, French, German, and Italian. Modern Greek is the only official language of Greece. Standard Modern Greek is the official dialect spoken by more than 11 million people in Greece. However, there are several other non-official dialects and distinct Greek languages as well.

Regional Variations and Dialects

Cappadocian Greek
This is an Hellenic language that originates from Cappadocia. This language is spoken by very few people. However, many people believe that Cappadocian Greek has gradually shifted to Standard Modern Greek and that the language is extinct.

Cretan Greek
This Greek dialect is spoken by around half a million people in the island of Crete and in the Greek diaspora. There are significant differences between Cretan Greek and Standard Greek. However, Cretan Greek is mostly used in spoken language and not in writing.

Cypriot Greek
This Greek dialect is mostly spoken by Greek Cypriots who have settled in Greece and in many other parts of the world including Canada, America, and Australia.

Pontic Greek
This Hellenic language was originally spoken in Pontus and in the South Caucusus region. Today, Pontic Greek is spoken by around half a million people in Greece.

Greek Sign Language
This is the language of the deaf community in Greece. It is legally recognized as the language of the Greek deaf community and is used by about 42,000 people in Greece.

Minority languages:
• Albanian
• Arvanitika
• Armenian
• Aromanian
• Megleno-Romanian
• Macedonian Slavic
• Bulgarian
• Ladino
• Romany
• Russian
• Turkish
• Greco-Turkic or Urum
• Georgian

The English Speaking Community in Greece

Although Greek is the official language in Greece, English is widely spoken in resorts and major cities. Many Greeks have learned English as a result of living and working in English speaking countries including Australia, Canada, and the UK. In addition, English is taught in many schools and learning institutions. Many people are making a living teaching English and by providing translation and interpretation services to tourists and locals. However, you may find it difficult to find people speaking English in remote areas of Greece, especially on the mainland. In addition, many people revert to speaking only Greek once the holiday season is over.

Unfortunately, many expats make little effort to learn Greek and often live their lives as if they are on a brief stay. If you intend to stay in Greece for a significant period, learning Greek is not only an option but also a necessity, especially if you want to run a business.

If you would like to retire to Greece, learning Greek will allow you to understand your bills, make phone calls, deal with service providers, and communicate with your new friends. If you do not learn Greek, you will find yourself in situations where you have to constantly call your friends and acquaintances to help you translate or interpret words for you. You may even find yourself having to pay for services you could have easily handled yourself.

One of the most important reasons why you should learn Greek when planning to stay in Greece is that it could help you or a loved one in case of an emergency. In addition, learning Greek will make your experience in Greece more memorable and may even open up doors that are closed to residents or visitors who do not understand the language.

Many people consider Greek to be a difficult language to learn, which is made worse by the entirely different alphabet. However, you can easily learn Greek if you are interested. The Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters and 12 combinations and diphthongs. You will find it relatively easier to speak the language once you understand the alphabet. The most important factor in speaking Greek is to use the right stress on certain letters. Put in the wrong place, the letter and word combinations could change the meaning altogether.

Greek grammar is also quite different from Standard English grammar, especially in the use of verbs. This also makes it quite difficult to learn and understand the language. However, with a bit of patience and persistence, you can learn it. Although you may not speak or write the language like a native, you can learn the rudimentary elements if you make an effort to learn. Fortunately, Greeks are tolerant and proud of foreigners who try to learn their language. They may even reply in Greek to help you better understand their language. Remember, your experience in Greece and enjoyment of your stay in the country may be directly pegged on your ability to speak and understand Greek.

Language Schools

The Alexandria Institute
This language center provides Greek language classes in many cities and towns in Greece including Athens, Andros, Methoni, Chios, and Paros. They also provide language classes through Skype. The Greek language program offered by this institution is suitable for people who want to learn Greek language and culture within the shortest time possible. In addition, it offers intensive language lessons for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level students. The lessons usually take 40 hours to complete and are usually divided into 10 days of instruction. The lessons offered by this institution cover speaking, writing, grammar, and reading.
Address: 28th Octovriou str., 10-12, P.O. 14231, Nea Ionia, Athens, Greece
Telephone number: +30 6972526788 or +30 2155258787
E-mail : welearngreek@gmail.com
Skype: welearngreek

Lexis Greek Language and Culture Center
This language center has been in operation since 2000. It is based in Hania and offers Greek language programs to adults of any nationality who want to learn Greek.
Address: 48 Daskalogianni str, Splantzia sq, Zip 731 00 Chania, Crete, Greece
Telephone number: +30 28210 55673, +30 28210 55673
Email: info@lexis.edu.gr, lexis@cha.forthnet.gr

Omilo Language Center
This institution offers Greek language lessons that inspire and motivate people to learn Greek. Students learn to speak Greek, improve their grammar, build their vocabulary, and gain insights into modern Greek cultures and activities.
Email: info@omilo.com
Telephone number: [+30] 210 61 22 896
Address: OMILO | P.O. Box 61070, Maroussi (North Athens), 15101

KLEIS Workshop for Greek Language and Culture
This institution offers Greek language lessons for people who want to learn Greek, as well as learning about Greek culture and the way of life. They also offer programs for people who want to refresh their Greek or improve their knowledge of Greek as a second language.
Address: 73133 Chania, Crete, Greece
Email: info@kleis.gr
Telephone / Fax: 0030 2821 11 3001

Read more about this country

Information courtesy of Carol Palioudaki, author of The Cool Guide to Living in Crete, available at www.livingincrete.net

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.