Made in Greece: PALSO Federation and foreign language education in Greece


For over 50 years the private language school system in Greece, commonly known by the Greek name ‘frontisterion’, has pioneered the development of language studies making Greece one of the publishing market leaders in continental Europe in books and documents published in English. Stimulated by the demand for international trade, the ‘frontisteria’ arose to meet the need of families wishing to take advantage of the international trade opportunities in English speaking countries following the end of World War II. This paper explores the origins and history of private language tutoring schools in Greece and explains the pedagogic and examination principles behind them. It also addresses the development and importance of the testing system adopted in the private tutorial schools and the development of an association to ensure quality teaching and testing of language proficiency, particularly for English language. In doing so, it examines the process of development of a teaching syllabus, teacher training and examination system which has influenced both Greek state and private language education.

KEYWORDS: frontistirion, private schools, UCLES, language associations, language exams, TEFL, CEFR, Waystage, Threshold

NICOLAOS MARAS. BA in Linguistics. Majored in English Language and Literature at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece). Was elected to the PALSO Board of Directors in 2003. Served as Chairman of the Examinations Committee for the PALSO exams in four languages: French, German, English and Italian. Currently second Vice-President of the Board, responsible for public relations. Has been a teacher trainer and supervisor of oral examiners for the EDEXCEL/PTE examinations since 2006, and, since 2014, for the NOCN exams. Chairs the Committee that developed The PALSO Guide 2nd edition. Was assigned to the development of the European Language Passport (ELP) portfolio for PALSO – the only private organisation in Greece to have developed an ELP portfolio awarded the Council of Europe stamp.

KAREN LEE. Has worked with PALSO since 1986. In addition to teaching EFL in tutoring schools, has been an examiner, supervisor, and general supervisor of English essay marking. Took part in English test construction and materials writing, conducted training for interview examiners. Received her BA in International Studies from Ohio State University, Columbus, USA.

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