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, and exercise classes. 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.
- MINGLE is an initiative of the Nicosia Municipality Multifunctional Foundation and MMC Management Center. It is aimed at people in Cyprus from non-EU countries who would like to learn Greek, meet people, get oriented, and feel more at home in Cyprus. Information is available in Greek, English, French, Russian, Arabic, Persian- Farsi. Among the courses offered are FREE Greek Language Courses and Workshops on Intercultural Skills, Social and Civic Competences, Cultural Awareness and Political Trust. The project is funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund | More info: http://mingle.projectsgallery.eu | To apply: Contact Nicosia Municipality Multifunctional Foundation at Nikiforou Foka Avenue, Nicosia 1016 | Tel: 22797850 | e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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: +357 22-892028 Monday to Friday, between 10:00 and 12:00. www.ucy.ac.cy/mogr/en/courses / E-mail: email@example.com
- Under the Colourful Societies programme, several municipalities in the Nicosia area periodically offer English and Greek language courses. For more information: Contact the Municipality of Aglantzia on 22462551 (07:45 -15:00).
- 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.
- Free Greek Language Lessons are offered at Mi-HUB Limassol, starting from 22 May 2018. For more information and registration call: 96-707814 or 96-707996.
- If you are living in the Pafos area, Caritas offers different levels of English classes taught by volunteers.
The Ministry of Education and Culture’s adult education classes (Epimorfotika), 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
1434 Acropoli, Nicosia
Tel: 22-800800 / 22-800803 / 22-800797
- Pafos District
Neofytos Nikolaides Street
New District Offices
Tel: 26-804521 / 26-804522
- Limassol District
- Larnaca and Famagusta Districts
Eleftherias Avenue 65
Oikonomou Estates, 1st floor
7102 Aradippou, Larnaca
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.
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, Pafos, Kofinou and Deryneia and are at the beginners and intermediate levels. If you are a non-European national living in Cyprus and your status is one of the following, you can apply for the courses:
- 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 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.
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, Pafos and Larnaca. The courses are organised in two language levels: beginners and intermediate. For more information: www.geiaxara.eu/en/
Online Language Courses, Apps and Other Learning Opportunities
NOTE: UNHCR bears no responsibility for the accuracy and content of external resources.
Erasmus+ Online Linguistic Support (OLS) for Refugees – The European Commission has extended the Erasmus+ Online Linguistic Support (OLS) Platform to benefit refugees interested in following online language courses in Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, German, Greek, English, Spanish, French, Croatian, Italian, Hungarian, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Finnish and Swedish. The programme aims to support the integration of refugees into Europe’s education and training systems, and ensure their skills development.
The OLS can be used at any time from a computer, tablet or smartphone with an internet connection. The use of this platform is free of charge.
Access to the platform is given to:
- Organisations supporting refugees
- Erasmus+ beneficiary institutions/organisations
For more information and to request access to the platform contact the Foundation for the Management of European Lifelong Learning Programmes or email Stavroula Antoniou firstname.lastname@example.org / Tel: +357 22 448 891.
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.
Mini Lexicons: Useful phrasebooks for basic communication
These phrasebooks have been created for communication support to refugees and asylum-seekers in an English and Greek speaking environment. They are for refugees and asylum-seekers, and for service providers – professionals and volunteers – working with refugees and asylum-seekers. See below for the phrasebooks available for these languages: Arabic, Farsi, French, Kurmanji, Sorani and Urdu.
The Mini Lexicons were developed by the Swiss Embassy and Metadrasi together with UNHCR in Greece. They can be downloaded here for free:
For Refugees and Asylum-Seekers:
For Professionals and Volunteers Providing Services to Refugees and Asylum-Seekers:
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.
Sports for All–AΓΟ
Sports for All (AΓΟ) is a programme initiated by the Cyprus Sports Association and the government for enabling the population – irrespective of gender, ethnic background, age, physical condition, education and financial means – to get involved with sports. The program concentrates on special groups instead of taking a collective approach, individually targeting women, men, children, the elderly as well as people with specific needs.
Registrations take place with the beginning of the school year and programs run from September/October to July. Fees vary, while GMI recipients have access to one course free of charge and subsidised prices to other classes. To be considered for the above benefit and other reduced prices beneficiaries need to have a confirmation from the Social Welfare Services that they are GMI beneficiaries.
A number of municipalities provide some subsidised classes for the residents of their municipalities. See here for more information.
Under the Colourful Societies programme, several municipalities in the Nicosia area offer other courses such as Computer classes and First Aid lessons.
For more information contact the Municipality of Aglantzia: 22462551 (07:45 -15:00).