Expat zone
Posted on: Oct 04, 2013

Why I should learn english better

Harmonia Coaching

This post is also available in Greek

English is a necessary asset in order to live, make friends and work in the Netherlands. Thankfully for us Greeks most of us have been sent to learn English since we were kids by our parents, so by the age of 18 we could have some base knowledge and communication skills.

I got the Lower Cambridge Certificate when I was 16. In the next 16 years that followed I didn’t speak over 24 hours in total English and despite all of my trips around Europe it was in the Netherlands that I realised that my English is mostly understood by other Greeks than actual English speakers. The treasure I thought I had in my hands for so many years had filled me up with illusions of me knowing the English language. As soon as I stepped foot in the company of “foreigners” I realised how wrong I was.

We have heard so many expressions from friends that stayed and studied in England for so many years, back then, when we never had on our mind that we would be taking on the roads to Europe.

I want a ticket and to go and to go back

said a friend once at the airport terminal, causing a small “brain damage” to the clerk that just stood and watched silent.

-How can I get to the airport? - Between (me taksi = with a taxi | metaksi = Between)

my friends responded to the tourist that asked them for directions.

A Greek will manage to communicate on any side of the planet, you know it. We got good hearts and enough good mood that no language can separate us for getting to know other people. But really, now that you came here, are these the kind of English you want to speak?

Many times I have found myself thinking how I could translate a saying or an expression or many times when I am with friends I don’t even bother and I just translate word by word:


Are you working me? (Are you kidding me), Listen to see (come to show you), Like the unfair curse (without a reason), Something's running down to the gypsies (nothing happened), Your mind and a pound (you are stupid, you have no brain), I came out of my clothes, (I was furious), This place is at Devil's mother, (This place is very far away), It rains chair legs, (It rains cats and dogs), Hairs curly, (nonsense), How from here morning morning? (how so early), I don't know my blindness, (I don’t know anything), Three-blanket party, (Successful party), Does the goat chew taramas? (I don’t believe you), Your fantasy does orgy! (You have big imagination), Are you working me? (Are you kidding me), It counts, (Is cool) are everyday expressions that we lister and we laugh.

So why should we learn better English?


Having fun with other people and getting the jokes is a start. There are expressions in English that if you don’t know learn them you will never understand them right.


The UK besides the British that, with a little extra work and by knowing their language you can understand them, has also the Scottish and the Irish that have different accents and expressions. Now that we get to meet people from there isn’t it about time we started understanding what they are saying?


The better you know a language the more effective you will be with it. By expanding your experience with English and your vocabulary you can sound different and make a better impression.

Hi, I am George, Greek, i talk english and I am very good

will most likely not land you the job that will help you enjoy your stay in this country.

Hi, I am George. I am from the beautiful land of Greece and i can be very helpful

is a better way to start.

If you are aiming for a position and a good contract than your level should be above average. Many people have lost interview opportunities because of spelling errors on cover letters but on their CV as well. Don’t forget that most companies receive hundreds of CV’s daily and sometimes the first sort includes spell checking.


If you don’t know English or Dutch then cinema and TV are unavailable for you in the Netherlands. Whatever you want to watch will have to have Greek subtitles and that will cause you to miss out on a whole world out there. If you watch US or UK movies in their native language thats the only way you will start understanding many things that get lost in translation.


Google translate may translate most pages online in your native language but it also makes no sense most of the time. You might find the information you need but you might also get it wrong and waste your time.


Did you know that about 1,500,000,000 people are speaking english and another billion are currently learning them? Are you one of those?

Make the biggest update in your life and take the decision to learn better.


Watch movies without subtitles

Chat with people without feeling shy

Watch TV shows from the UK or the US

Try to speak properly, don’t be lazy

Read simple articles in blogs and magazines without google translate and if you come upon an unknown word, google it, learn it and move on.

start reading online comics

Sing out loud your favorite songs and you‘ll soon start remembering the expressions

Ask a friend that speaks better, to tutor you or give a direction about what you can and should read


There are so many and creative ways to learn better english if your truly want so.

Photos by: topgold, Grunge-Textures-www.freestock.ca, joguldi, WindyWinters, Augapfel, madnzany.

Mike Klianis
Mike Klianis

Designer, marketer & a social media karate kid (No 4). When she grows up, she wants to feed the world with Greek food & Frappe. Admires the yellow angry bird because it strikes its targets with power and precision.