TEFL in Greece


From needs analysis to curriculum development.


For the last four decades, in order for somebody to be considered employable in Greece, all they needed to present was a certification to prove English acquisition of some level from B2 to C2 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) to score qualification points for the national, independent qualifications assessment board called ASEP.


by Dimitris Kouniakis, Educator, TEFL Teacher Trainer, Speaker, Blogger & Director of Studies at Mellon Language School, Patra


Certificate acquisition became an instant trend. Knowledge acquisition was rendered obsolete and unnecessary. Thus, the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) world and community in Greece suffered the mirror effect.


ELT (English Language Teaching) publishers and EFL (English Foreign Language) schools modified their curriculum in order to facilitate these needs and teaching functional- communicative English gave place to exam oriented teaching.


Teaching to facilitate testing…..


The introduction of many English Language Certificates only made acquiring a certificate more accessible. Language certification became the new EFL school marketing tool and acquiring basic communicative English skills was no longer the intended end product.


The repercussions are visible today mainly because many of those holding a certificate recognized by ASEP find themselves not being able to write or speak English. At the same time, basic English acquisition and language skills are non-standardized.


The economic crisis has created drastic changes in both the market and market needs.


The Hellenic Republic faced the biggest economic crisis that any country has suffered since World War II, which in turn has created drastic changes in both the market and market needs. The need for functional — communicative English, information literacy and ESP (English for Specific Purposes) are now greater than ever before.


Yet, the knowledge deficit created by the malpractices of EFL schools have left many English Language Certificate holders incapable of speaking or writing English adequately enough to become employable by the private sector or to relocate abroad.


Suddenly, the difference between being unemployed and being unemployable was more than often defined by or attributed to the right or wrong choice of EFL school and the command of the English Language acquired.


The knowledge deficit has also created great difficulties in bridging the gap for ESP (English for Specific Purposes).


Those who had acquired an English certificate too early or those who had received a fast-tracked or even poor education, found themselves struggling to brush up, improve or make up for their knowledge deficit.


The market needs have changed and yet the Greek ELT market seems to remain -to a large extent- oblivious to the fact that students in most European countries learn English without any kind of examination or the need for any kind of certification.


Knowledge is a commodity, not a product.


Yet, the Greek ELT curriculum design has been slow in reacting when it should be leading, as tourism and the tourist industry still remain the country’s main breadwinner, while more and more people are considering relocating as their ultimate solution to a 10-year economic recession which is showing a very slow pace of recovering.


The ELT world in Greece needs to change, but before it does, its teachers and educators need to change first.



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