The Greek language school as a transmitter of ethnicity: A study of linguistic, cultural, and religious maintenance

Date of Completion

January 1997


Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Sociology of|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




This study assessed the role of the Greek language school in relation to the linguistic, cultural and religious maintenance of the ethnic parish in which it operates. The study examined the following issues: the Greek school and its relations to the continuity of Greek identity; the linguistic and extralinguistic goals of the Greek school, the relationship between the school and the Greek Orthodox Church; and whether the school responds to parental aspirations.^ The general goal of the study was to determine whether the Greek language school is the basic vehicle of linguistic, cultural and religious maintenance of the Greek American community. A qualitative study was designed to determine participants' perceptions of the role of the Greek language school. The methods utilized in the study were, participant observation, focus groups, interviewing and questionnaires.^ The study took place at two Connecticut Greek language schools over a period of seven months. There were five focus group sessions, thirteen interviews, thirty adult questionnaire responses and sixteen adolescent questionnaire responses. Adolescent students' questionnaires attempted to assess the attitudes of the new generation of Greek Americans towards the Greek language, which in this study were found to be positive.^ The study focused on the adult participants who were divided in four categories: parents, teachers, administrators, and parish priests. The role of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, as well as the role of the Greek American volunteer associations, and the role of the Greek Ministry of Education in relation to the operation of the Greek school were also examined.^ The findings of the study indicated that adult participants believed the Greek language school to be the basic transmitter of the Greek language and culture to the younger generation of Greek Americans. The continuous use of the Greek language in the liturgy was found to be very important to linguistic continuity.^ It is recommended that the Greek language schools, utilize new methods of second language teaching, as well as available computer technology. To continue to be successful, all interested organizations should unite their resources and produce relatively uniform guidelines for the operation of all the afternoon Greek language schools. ^