Intensive One Month

Hi! So it seems like I’m going to Greece in 5 weeks from now, and I want to try to learn as much as I can during this month. I’m thinking of having a tutor teach me for one hour every day, but what else do you guys think I should do in order to learn and what should I be focusing on?

Are you starting from scratch or do you already have a base to work from? I don’t see you having done Greek on LingQ yet?

Five weeks isn’t a lot so probably best would be to focus on typical phrases. Phrasebooks probably would be the best imo and focus on the items that would be most useful. I like Lone Planet Phrasebooks.

The other problem you may have if wanting to be able to read a little is you have a whole new alphabet to learn.

I don’t have firsthand knowledge of this but I’ve read they all know English over there, so if the main concern is being able to communicate and you know English then you should be all good.

I don’t have any other tips, other than if there are other things you might think you would converse on, enter them into deepl or google translate and create your own set of phrases or handful of important words.

And if you do get stuck with someone who only knows Greek, google translate works great! I’ve used in Japan and with my painting contractors who only spoke Spanish and my vocabulary was way too limited. Of course always more fun to be able to speak unassisted which is probably what you are going for. Good luck!


Hi Eric, thanks for your answer!

I have had some Greek at college, but it was 15 years ago. The alphabet wouldn’t be much of a problem, I think. Other than that, I’d be starting from scratch.

And yeah, I’ve read the same, they usually speak Greek, but I’d rather speak some Greek if I could and I was looking for some help to find out what kind of vocabulary might be most likely to be useful. I’ll check Lone Planet out, thanks for suggesting!

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Hi, Marcelo!

I agree: Lonely Planet Phrasebooks are great, esp. when they have audio files!

Apart from that, I’d use the following resources:

  • Michel Thomas for getting a feel for the basic structures of the L2
  • Pimsleur for speaking early
  • LingQ (or Assimil) Mini Stories
  • Greek podcasts for beginners (see, for example: 8 Best Podcasts For Learning Greek In 2022) similar to this French podcast or YT vids similar to “Dreaming Spanish”.
    I think the main point here is to have as many everyday dialogs as possible for your

Good luck,


I don’t know about Greek, but the Michel Thomas course for Russian was pretty good. It’s like a good, quick introduction to build a foundation off. Whether you’re willing to spend the money on it is another question. Perhaps you can find it at your local library or on the www.

@Marcelo You haven’t mentioned why you are going to Greece for a month. Are you travelling? Or do you have work and are busy most of the day? Or is it actually to learn Greek?

Several things I would like to mention:

  1. Study as much as you can before arriving. Even at LingQ Intermediate 1 / B1 comprehension, it’s not actually adequate enough for people to want to converse with you in that language, if they have a choice of another language, just because you aren’t good enough. In your five weeks before leaving to Greece, try to really pump out as much studying as you can. Do as many hours per day as possible.

  2. The everyday person you meet isn’t your language teacher, they just want to sell you the pair of shoes or check you in at the hotel. Some people are more than happy to teach you their language and they teach you funny phrases and rude words and correct your grammar, etc. But many people just want to communicate with you, not teach you, so will switch to English or just leave the conversation (and you will encounter many people who speak English in Greece, especially younger people or in touristic areas). Because of this, you can spend time in the country and not actually practise much of the language. You have to actively try to engage in activities, which involve engaging with the language. Some ideas include: signing up to a walking tour in Greek, reading local newspapers, watching local TV stations, organising meetings with people for language exchange (eg. message a lot of people on various apps like Couchsurfing and Tandem or posting advertisements on whatever website has the local classifieds or Facebook groups), paying for a tutor, going to local gym classes. You will get much more value out of it by organising some things beforehand.

Read @rokkvi’s experience of learning Faroese and going to the Faroe Islands:


I’m in a similar boat. I’m “cramming” for a trip to Colombia tomorrow =D. I do have a fair amount of Spanish (mostly from high school/college), but it’s been years and my focus has been pretty much non stop German the past few years so I’m definitely rusty as heck and still quite limited for anything meaningful beyond handling the basic interactions…

I did grab the Lonely Planet phrasebook myself for reviewing the basics . Nice and pocket sized and nicely color coded for particular topics…dining, social, basics, shopping.


This is a Greek course with similar methodology to Michel Thomas but is free (and excellent):

Others have mentioned that a lot of English is spoken in Greece and this is true, however, I’ve found that Greeks are very willing to speak Greek if you’re trying to use their language.


Hi Eric,

I think you’re the “ideal” candidate for “Dreaming Spanish” (esp. their super beginner / beginner videos: Dreaming Spanish - YouTube).

You should definitely give it a shot before you travel to Colombia…

Que tengas un buen dia,
Pedro :slight_smile:

Muchas gracias Pedro :wink: ,
I’ll definitely check it out. I think I may have watched some of their videos before. Not sure I’ll have much time though…leaving this evening, but maybe I can download some of the videos and watch on the plane. I’ve been trying to identify some good listening material for my level so these may be just right…I think I read at a much higher level, but my listening skills in Spanish are definitely in the beginner-ish level…or at least need some warming up.

José (the name I used in high school spanish class lol)

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Honestly with that little time, I would personally opt for doing something like Pimsleur, but maybe at an accelerated rate (maybe 2-3 lessons per day). That way, you can at least communicate verbally even if your reading ability isn’t great. Pimsleur + learning how to read the most common, useful words for travel would be the best course of action, in my opinion.


I think Pimsleur is the perfect answer for a short notice trip, however, I would just do one lesson per day. Repeat that lesson as many times as you’d like thoughout the day, but just do one.

Pimsleur Greek 1 (the first 30 lessons) mastered will equip you with the necessary survival Greek to do lots of things in a tourist capacity.

Force-feeding two volumes (60 lessons) or three volumes (90 lessons) in a month is too stressful and probably won’t stick. I’d rather know Volume 1 thoroughly, while keeping a normal pace to my life. Planning, packing, and getting ready for the trip in other ways, in a well-rounded sense, not just fire-hosing the language into my system.


Hi Marcelo,

Here are a few other resources that I forgot to mention:

So my program for early speaking on a tight time budget in Modern Greek would be like this

  1. A light grammar approach à la Michel Thomas / Language Transfer to get a feel for Greek

  2. Pimsleur in combination with Memrise decks / Phrasebooks (50Languages / Lonely Planet)

  3. With a little bit of more time available, I’d resort to the “reading while listening” approach based on Assimil / LingQ (Mini stories, podcasts for beginners, etc.).

Hope that helps,

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I’ll throw in my opinion: with that little time I would concentrate on the tutoring like you suggested. You won’t be able to learn very much in that time, but you could get comfortable speaking and being spoken to in Greek so you don’t freeze up when a waiter asks you a simple question. You could also focus on very concrete situations you are likely to encounter (e.g., being in a store, restaurant).


One month is not a lot of time, especially for a relatively difficult language like greek.

That said: I was recently in Saudi Arabia for work and I couldn’t speak a lick of Arabic before I left and they did not speak English everywhere unlike pretty much everywhere else I’ve traveled.

My takeaway is that the most useful for me would have been to find useful phrases and mini-stories that concentrate on very specific situations like talking to a taxi driver and responding to his questions. Taxis were a ball breaking nightmare for me. Even uber was messed up because my uber app was in English and theirs was in Arabic.

So that one IMO is the numero uno. But it may be different in Greece. Maybe Greek taxi drivers are PHDs educated in English.


Listening only: First 10 mini-stories back to back on the plane. Second ten back to back in the hotel before you go to sleep. Rinse repeat every night in the hotel.
During the day make sure to try to speak Spanish to everyone. Try to speak to older people as they are less likely to be able to respond in English.

Que Vayas Con Dios y Buen Viaje!


I didn’t have time to try implementing yours or Peter’s ideas although I think they are good. What I had done for the month was to some reading in LingQ…some ministories, some assimil, some Colombian newpaper, some novels. The latter were way above my level, but added more for something interesting.

I also went through a few chapters of Teach Yourself.

I did some listening of the ministories, easy spanish, and a few other random things here and there.

One source that I found very good was Madrigal’s Keys to Spanish. I had heard about this one a few years back when I started becoming interested in relearning spanish, but sort of dismissed it after perusing at the book store. I did end up buying it a month or so ago and can definitely say it is highly recommended for those that are native English speakers (or know English very well). The premise is that there are thousands of words that fit certain patterns in English that can be converted to Spanish words.

eg. words ending in “or” - are the same in spanish… el doctor, el actor, el color, etc.

eg. words ending in “al” - often the same in spanish - el animal, el criminal, legal, natural

eg. words ending in “ic” - change ending to “ico” - el público, artístico, elástico

There’s a ton of other patterns. The book also teach the “past” and future first which is interesting. The idea being that, in conversation you will speak mostly about things that have happened or are “going” to happen (future using the pattern “going to ” - eg. voy a viajar.

Each chapter has “conversaciones” which I copied and pasted into LingQ (required some editing to make it look nice).

Anyway…a short summary of a book that I can now recommend wholeheartedly.

BTW the trip to Colombia was fantastic. We had a great time. My spanish when I tried was good enough for basic needs and asking some simple questions. Main sticking point for me in many cases was listening, which is not suprising as I simply don’t have enough, and not enough “muscle memory” from high school or college to help with that. If spoken clearly and simply I could understand basics. My gf is a bit better at spanish so she did do most of the speaking.

Most people in Colombia will continue speaking with you in Spanish…main exception-hotel front desk, understandably. So if wanting a place to practice your Spanish, Colombia is a great place to do so, and the people are very friendly.


@EricB: Most people in Colombia will continue speaking with you in Spanish…main exception-hotel front desk, understandably. So if wanting a place to practice your Spanish, Colombia is a great place to do so, and the people are very friendly.

Awesome! Glad to hear you had a blast and that you managed to get something out of it.
Also… other than the coastal regions, Spain doesn’t have a ton of English speakers either, especially in the smaller towns. So Spain could also work.

And yeah: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French all have TONS of “English” words in them, just pronounced differently. I did exactly what you did - I noticed endings like -mente = -ly and -cion = -tion etc

For tenses I condensed all past tenses into past perfect to make it easier: I just had to remember the past participle. For future I condensed all future tenses into “going to”.
I had a hard time understanding but usually folks could figure out the way I was butchering spanish and respond in kind when I said “solo se como decir el pasado asi como he llegado, he caminado, no se demas” and similar with future.
They basically spoke baby spanish back to me. But it worked. My Spanish is pretty fluent.

If I had the patience and desire I’d do the same thing with French, but I’m content to just do lingQ with french lazily.

With Russian I need to figure out shortcuts for cases aaaaaaaaah!!!