Parents’ Attitudes towards Early Foreign Language Instruction in Greek Public Primary Schools: Threat or Opportunity for Change?

By Evdokia Karavas.

Published by The International Journal of Early Childhood Learning

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 9, 2014 $US5.00

The paper focuses on the findings and implications of a two year nationwide study investigating parents’ attitudes towards the introduction of English in the first and second grade of public primary schools in Greece: the English for Young Learners programme. The study was conducted through questionnaires completed by over 11.000 parents during the first two years of programme implementation (2010/2011, 2011/2012). The results of the study were quite revealing, being promising and alarming at the same time. Although parents in the second year of the EYL programme implementation were found to be more positively predisposed towards this innovation and were in agreement with its central principles, a larger percentage of parents in the second year had either enrolled or expressed their intention to enroll, their children in private language institutes for extra English language instruction. This financially exerting practice reflects parents’ perennial lack of trust towards the quality of foreign language provision in Greek public schools and is a result of their deep-seated belief that foreign language instruction equals foreign language certification. Most importantly however, this practice poses serious threats to the effective implementation of the programme and may negatively impact young learners’ attitudes towards languages and lifelong language learning in general given that the nature and purpose of instruction in the two educational institutions is different. As a result of the study’s findings, a programme aiming at raising parents’ awareness of the benefits of early language learning at school and at involving parents more actively in the language education of their children with the cooperation of the class teacher was developed. The rationale and main actions of the “parent involvement” programme close this paper.

Keywords: Early Language Learning, Parental involvement, Innovation, Parental Attitudes

The International Journal of Early Childhood Learning, Volume 20, Issue 3, May 2014, pp.21-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 9, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 784.733KB)).

Dr. Evdokia Karavas

Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature,, Language and Linguistics Division, University of Athens, Athens, Attiki, Greece

Evdokia Karavas holds a doctorate from the University of Warwick where she specialized in the evaluation of ELT curricula, educational research methods and English language teacher education. She has experience in the evaluation of ELT programmes (in Europe and elsewhere) and in the management of in-service teacher education programmes. From 1993-2000, she was a lecturer at the Centre for English Language Teacher Education at the University of Warwick. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of English Language and Literature of the University of Athens, co-coordinator of the Pre-service EFL teacher training education programme and the EFL Mentor Training Programme and Deputy Director of the department’s Research Centre for Language Teaching, Testing and Assessment (RCeL). Within the wider context of the research, and project work undertaken by the RCeL, Dr Karavas has been responsible for the development and design of speaking module of the national exams in English (known as KPG) and for the training of oral examiners and markers for the KPG exam. She is currently coordinator of two nationwide teacher training programmes. The first, addressed to primary school EFL teachers, involves the development of specialised face to face and distance training materials for the teaching of English to very young learners. The second is addressed to public school foreign language teachers and aims at training teachers in the implementation of newly introduced curricula. Dr Karavas has taken part in conferences within and outside Greece and her research interests include curriculum/ programme evaluation, teacher education and development, TEYL, EFL didactics, educational research methods. She has publications in these areas in local and international journals.