ASTORIA — Known for its diversity, Astoria is home to speakers of many different languages — making it a great place to take up learning a new one.
Several cultural groups and organizations in the neighborhood offer classes for adults of varying skill levels, making it easy for someone who wants to try mastering something other than their native tongue.
DNAinfo New York has these picks for those looking to learn new language skills in the new year.
Learn Czech and Slovak at the Beer Garden
A popular Astoria destination to enjoy a pint outdoors, the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden is also home to a school that teaches Czech and Slovak classes to both children and adults.
Both the school and the beer garden were founded in 1910 by the Bohemian Citizens' Benevolent Society of Astoria, a more than century-old cultural group that promotes Czech and Slovak cultures.
Classes for the school's winter session for adults will begin this week, with a beginner Czech class starting on Thursday, Jan. 9 and three other classes — Czech intermediate, beginner Slovak and low-intermediate Slovak — will be offered on Saturdays starting Jan. 11.
All adult courses run for 11 weeks and cost $180 (or $150 for Benevolent Society members) plus the cost of a textbook.
School director Blanka Sylvester said classes are half grammar, half conversation, and that beginner classes are perfect for those who are new to either language.
"We start at the very beginning, with the basic phrases," she said, saying they encourage learners who finish the starter course to continue on to their next level courses, for the best results.
"As long as they keep going, it gets easier," she said.
The Czech and Slovak School at Bohemian Hall is located at 29-19 24th Ave. For more information or to register for a class, contact Blanka Sylvester at email@example.com or at (201) 496-4393.
Practice for Your Italian Vacation
Those looking to learn Italian in a laid-back atmosphere can head to The Cultural Association of the Molise Region, a nonprofit in Long Island City that celebrates all things Italian, including its language.
"We concentrate on conversation and culture and tradition," said Rosemarie Buzzeo, who teaches the class alongside her husband, Alfredo Brunetti, a native speaker who founded the association.
The course lasts for 10 weeks, and is open to all skill levels. Classes meet for two hours and emphasize "immersion," meaning they're taught entirely in Italian, giving students plenty of opportunity to practice.
Buzzeo said they strive to create a fun and "very non-threatening" atmosphere that focuses on conversational Italian — perfect for those who want to hone their skills for an upcoming vacation.
"People usually really enjoy themselves," she said. "We create an atmosphere where everybody wants to try."
The association's winter session will begin on Jan. 8, and will be held every Wednesday for 10 weeks. Those who sign up prior to the first class can get the early registration fee of $275. Registration on or after Jan. 8 will cost $325.
The Cultural Association of the Molise Region is located at 31-16 36th Ave. in Long Island City. Click here to register for winter session classes online, or for more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get Your Greek On
Astoria has long been known as the city's biggest Greek enclave. In addition to running Greek language and culture classes for children, the Afternoon School at St. Demetrios Orthodox Cathedral offers an "Adult Greek Program," open to anyone looking to learn.
Teimoleon Kokkinos, principal of the afternoon school, says the program draws mostly non-Greek speakers who are learning the language for the first time, often because they work for a Greek company or because they married into a Greek-speaking family.
The program costs $500 and runs from September through June, with current classes meeting once a week on Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
St. Demetrios is located at 30-11 30th Dr. To learn more about the Afternoon School's adult program, call (718) 726-6620.