Sisterly bond creates love for language


Photo by: Ellie Papadakis. Kalkounos’s rivalry with her sister provided a base for her teaching career. Teaching allows Kalkounos to share her passion for language with students. She believes that learning languages sheds light onto new cultures and leads to increased compassion.

Students know that foreign language teacher Effie Kalkounos speaks Spanish and French, but what they might not know is that she also speaks Greek, Italian and even a little Portuguese.

When she was young, Kalkounos lived in Greece. Generally, it is common for Europeans to know more than one language.

Her love of language also stems from a little bit of sibling rivalry.

“It was kind of a competition between me and my sister because her and I both took French, and I always did better than her in French, but she always was better in athletics than me,” Kalkounos said.

In order to try to be better than her sister, Kalkounos told her mother, in secret, that she wanted to take Italian. Her mother, of course, blabbed it to Kalkounos’ sister.

“Next thing I know,” she said, “Peggy, my sister, was signed up for Italian, and we were in the same class.”

When there would be competitions and games in the class, Kalkounos’ sister, much to Kalkounos’ chagrin, would always win. When it came to the tests, however, she would always do better.

Still, this made her upset, so she decided to start taking Spanish classes. Her sister couldn’t take the Spanish classes with her, since she was about to graduate.

“I always said to her ‘Haha, I’m one-up on you!’” Kalkounos said.

Kalkounos always knew that she wanted to be a teacher.

“I used to line up my little dolls when I was little and teach them a different language, “ she said. “I made up this language when I was in elementary school that was a mix of Greek letters, English letters and numbers. So, I knew it was always something with languages.”

She says that for students who want to keep up with the language they are learning, it is important for them to get involved with it. This means that they should keep taking classes, find people who speak the language, travel to that country or read–and read a lot.

“I think as soon as you learn even one other language, you have a better understanding of people and why they do things a certain way and perhaps you become more compassionate towards them,” she said.

By: Ellie Papadakis