Learning the Greek language will help you to find employment, and to better interact with the host community in Cyprus. There are various language programmes offered to refugees and asylum-seekers living in different parts of the island by volunteer groups, NGOs, local authorities and by projects funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Funds (AMIF) of the European Union and the Republic of Cyprus. These programmes are offered for free. In addition there are some other programmes offered at minimal costs that anyone living in Cyprus can participate in.
If you are living at the Kofinou Reception Centre, there are English and Greek language courses being held at the Centre throughout the week and during weekends for free. In addition, the Cyprus Red Cross is running recreational activities at the Kofinou Reception Centre, which include: Afternoon Homework Club, Exercise classes, Theatre classes, Art classes and Capoeira lessons. To find out more and take part, speak with a social worker on duty.
Language programmes that are currently running in different locations around Cyprus include the following:
Intercultural Centre operates under the Municipality of Nicosia Multipurpose Centre and offers Greek Language, English Language and IT Courses for migrants living in Nicosia. The Intercultural Center provides a welcoming training area where members develop both their linguistic and e-skills to support their adaptation and integration into Cypriot society. For more information, see the Intercultural Centre’s website.
The University of Cyprus School of Modern Greek offers free beginner Greek classes in Nicosia from September to May. Places are limited. For further information and application forms: Telephone: +35722892028 Monday to Friday, between 10:00 and 12:00. www.ucy.ac.cy/mogr/en/courses / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are living in Limassol, the local charity Agapi provides various classes for adults and children, including Greek and English language classes. For more information click here.
If you are living in the Paphos area, Caritas offers different levels of English classes taught by volunteers.
iLearnGreek is a programme offering free Greek language courses to third country nationals over the age of 18, in order to support their integration into Cypriot society. The courses are offered in Nicosia, Limassol, Paphos, Kofinou and Deryneia and are at the beginners and intermediate levels. If you are a non-European national living in Cyprus, you can apply for the courses and your status is one of the following:
- Recognised Refugee
- Subsidiary Protection Beneficiary
- Third Country National with a student’s or worker’s or visitor’s or Cypriot spouse’s residence permit
The Ministry of Education and Culture’s epimorfotika, or adult education classes, are held in the afternoons and evenings in various subjects, including language courses, and Greek for beginners. These are offered all over the island at the local community level, for anyone who is interested, and at a low cost of EUR45-55 per year. Applications for the Greek language courses at the State Adult Education Centres can be submitted usually during September or October each year. Registration takes place once a year, and classes run from October to May.
Note: Under the epimorfotika programme Greek classes are also offered for residents at the Kofinou Reception Centre from November to May for free. See here, for more information or contact your local Adult Education District Office directly:
- Nicosia District
Ministry of Education and Culture
Block C, 1st Floor
Kimonos and Thoukididou Street
Tel: 22800800 / 22800803 / 22800797
- Paphos District
Neofytos Nikolaides Street
New District Offices
Tel: 26804521 / 26804522
- Limassol District
- Larnaca and Famagusta Districts
Eleutherias Ave. 65
State Institutes of Further Education (SIFE) of the Ministry of Education also offer Greek classes all over Cyprus. The fees are normally EUR250-400 per year, but for GMI beneficiaries the cost is only EUR10 per year.
For more information contact the Ministry of Education and Culture by either calling 22 800803 or by visiting their website.
Geia Hara is a program that provides free Greek language courses to children of third country nationals, in order to support their integration process at school, and in Cypriot society in general. The courses are offered in Nicosia, Limassol, Paphos and Larnaca. The courses are organised in two language levels: beginners and intermediate. For more information: www.geiaxara.eu/en/
The Ministry of Education and Culture Programmes
The Ministry of Education and Culture implements a number of programmes for children with a migrant background within the school system for the year 2016-2017, where a certain number of periods per week are devoted to teaching Greek as a second language within specific gymnasiums, lyceums and technical schools. All programmes are designed for ‘children with a migrant background’ – a broader category that includes asylum-seeker and refugee children. These programmes are ongoing in the 2017-2018 school year, and are extended to additional schools, while some new programmes may also be added for unaccompanied minors as well.
- For up-to-date details on which schools offer these programmes, enquire at your local District Education Office.
- For contact details of the Office in your district: www.moec.gov.cy/dde/en/contact.html
Transitional classes in gymnasiums
Transitional classes in the public gymnasiums are addressed to children with a migrant background who have ‘A1’ level Greek, according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Intensive classes of Greek as a second language are offered, including elements of History and Civilisation, for 14 periods a week. In addition the transitional classes will also offer extra hours for subjects that have exams at the end of the year: Maths (2 periods per week), Physics (1 period per week), Biology (1 period per week) and Chemistry (1 period per week). Children in this programme will spend 19 periods a week in the mainstream classes, and 19 periods a week in transitional classes. Students with ‘B1’ level Greek attend mainstream classes only.
The transitional classes programme extends to a number of schools across Cyprus.
Short programmes of teaching Greek as a second language in gymnasiums, lyceums and technical schools
These programmes run in specific lyceums and technical schools which host students with a migrant background and who need to learn Greek as a second language. Four periods per week are devoted to teaching Greek. Some hours for teaching Greek are also allowed within certain gymnasiums, since the transfer of children to other gymnasiums that offer transitional classes is not always possible.
DRASE programme – Actions for Scholarly and Social Integration
During the year 2016-2017 this programme is implemented across a 75 schools, including kindergartens, primary schools, gymnasiums, lyceums and technical schools. During the school year 2017-2018 the programme will be further extended to additional schools across the island. Within this programme, schools will be offering various courses, including complementary teaching classes and creative activities for students (during the morning or in the afternoons and during the school months), additional psycho-social support from specialists and providing educational and training opportunities for teachers.
This programme supports migrant families to learn Greek and improve their social skills, and to support students and families that are at risk of social exclusion.
Online Language Courses and Apps and Other Learning Opportunities
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Duolingo – A free App that can offer a quick, easy and fun way to learn some basics of a language through a smart phone or tablet, as long as there is WiFi access. Choice of many languages including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Greek and Russian.
Busuu – A computer and mobile app offering choice of a number of languages including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Turkish.
Internet Polyglot – a computer and mobile App that provides language learning opportunities to a wide variety of language speakers including Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, French and others.
Learn Languages – Free online language courses with an easy-to-use interface.
Reading material for children:
Storyweaver – children’s stories in 105 languages, at different language levels, and on a variety of subjects including technology & Engineering, History, Grammar, Environment, developing good habits, vocabulary building for English beginners, exploring feelings. The stories can facilitate mother tongue learning as well as Greek and English as a second language.
Books for Afghanistan – supporting literacy among Afghan school-age children.
Self learning opportunities for adolescents and adults:
Coursera – computer or mobile app. Provides access to education programs from top universities and organizations. Has hundreds of courses in the areas such as arts and humanities, business, computer science, data science, information technology, life sciences and language learning. Courses are free; there is a fee for certificates.
EDX – online learning, free of charge. Founded by Harvard and MIT. Currently has over 90 global partners. A large variety of learning areas including language, psychology, history, business, chemistry, communication, computer science, energy, science, math and social sciences. Courses are free; there is a fee for certificates. EDX also has advance and professional-level certification options.