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Bessie Dendrinos

Professor Bessie Dendrinos
President of the European Civil Society Platform for Multilingualism
“Creating Space for New Literacies in Heterogenous European Societies”



Bessie Dendrinos Professor Emeritus of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, taught and carried out research at the Department of Language and Linguistics of the Faculty of English, where she is presently Director of the “Research Centre for Language Teaching, Testing and Assessment” ( She is Author of The Hegemony of English (co-authored with Macedo and Gounari) – a book that has been translated in several languages and received the 2004 American Educational Studies Association (AESA) Critics’ Choice Award. President of the Board for the national foreign language examinations in Greece, a multilingual examination suite known as the KPG (, she is also project director of the IFLC project* which resulted in the new state school curriculum for languages in Greece that has recently been recognized as ‘best practice example’ for the implementation of the principles of the Common European Framework of Languages (Council of Europe). As of 2015 she is President of the European Civil Society Platform for Multilingualism (



The powerful demands for effective communication and intercultural understanding in our increasingly diverse European societies –constituents of a heterogeneous European federation intent on being a principal player in global politics and economy—pose a huge challenge for the language education community which is required to radically rethink a variety of commonsense notions and practices regarding students’ literacies and language education.

Our understanding of what language is (for) and who is a proficient language user, what it means to have ‘communicative competence’ in multilingual topoi such as open social spaces and institutions, classrooms, the world wide web, etc., or what ‘plurilingual competence’, ‘intercultural competence’ and ‘mediation competence’ entail, must all be reconsidered so that together with that they become the corner stones for innovative ways in which language(s) are used in schools, the types and the function of language across the curriculum and more generally they types of multiliteracies young people need today. These need to be based on new language educational policies that may perhaps lead to novel language learning, teaching, testing and assessment projects (a few good examples of which are already available for us to reflect upon or adopt). Most importantly, perhaps, they may help the creation of totally different type of language teacher education education programmes at universities whose language departments are the proponents of traditional academic language and linguistics disciplines that have shaped our present-day views of language, literacy and communicative competence. Hence, academic resistance is unavoidably immense.

I shall address the aforementioned issues during my presentation, with a view to raising conference participants’ (further) awareness regarding the difficulties with which our field of interest is faced at a time when language and language education issues are more tightly linked to economic and political stakes than ever before. In the last part of my presentation, as a contribution to the ongoing dialogue in the field, I will suggest my thoughts on how best to address the challenges facing us.


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