Linguistic Heterogeneity in the Greek Educational System: a Sociolinguistic Approach to the ‘Cross Cultural’ Policy

Ifigenia Papageorgiou

University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom


Throughout the 90’s, Greece saw a massive influx of immigrants and the return of repatriated Greeks from abroad. As a consequence, the composition of the population in many Greek schools has changed significantly and one of the major challenges schools and educators have had to face is the educational and socio-linguistic integration of immigrant and repatriated children. In 1996, as a response to these challenges, the Government introduced the apparently innovative framework of ‘Cross-Cultural Education’. In turn, this policy led to the emergence of ‘Cross-Cultural Schools’ throughout Greece. In theory, these are schools whose specific purpose is to ensure equality of educational opportunities by offering linguistic and other support to bilingual (immigrant and repatriated) children in the context of mainstream education. That is, these are schools which, while different from bilingual education, supposedly recognise and nurture linguistic diversity within their learners’ population. However, despite these declared good intents, a recent UNICEF study (2001) decries discrimination, racism and xenophobia in the Greek educational system.

The purpose of the poster I propose to present is threefold: (1) To examine the way the Greek Cross Cultural Policy (CCP) addresses the challenges of multilingual classrooms and the needs of bilingual students and reveal the implications it has for language use in educational practice; (2) To understand how it specifically relates to (2.1) the Council of Europe recommendations regarding the educational and linguistic provision for immigrant kids and (2.2) other models and policy solutions adopted by countries (such as the United Kingdom and Germany) which have more experience in dealing with the educational and language needs of immigrant children; (3) To see how headmasters and teachers working for Cross Cultural Schools in Athens (Greece) perceive the CCP and how they think it contributes to the sociolinguistic integration of immigrant and repatriated kids. By addressing these issues I will be able to reveal the interconnections between the European educational policy for minority kids and the Greek CCP, and then relate those policies to their actual implementation by particular teachers in particular schools.

The objectives above will be addressed through a combination of qualitative methodologies. Objectives (1) and (2) will be addressed through textual and historical analysis of legislation documents, as well as of Greek and European official regulations related to the CCP. Objective (3) will be addressed through analysis of preliminary data collected through interviews with headmasters and teachers who work for Cross Cultural Schools conducted during my preliminary fieldwork in five Cross Cultural Schools in Athens in April 2007.

Undertaken against the background of a near absence of sociolinguistic studies of the cross-cultural policy, this presentation will pave the way to a better understanding of the Greek CCP.


UNICEF 2001. Discrimination-Racism-Xenophobia in the Greek Educational System

WWW Document URL: (Greek edition) accessed 26/01/2007.

Session: POSTERS:Focus on language policy, literacy, education, identity
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 13:00-15:45
room: foyer