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KPG corner

ELT News, February 2009

The KPG ExamBattery

Readers who are unfamiliar with the Greek language exams, but plan to be joining us from now on in our ELT News KPG corner should know that KPG (Kratiko Pistopiitiko Glossomathias [State Certificate of Foreign Language Proficiency]) offers exams in European languages of ‘value’ to the Greek society. It is a product of and a service by the Greek state at no material or symbolic profit. Exams are offered to people living, studying and working in Greece.

In which languages and for what levels of performance are the exams offered?

Exams are offered in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and soon also in Russian and Turkish. For the first four languages, candidates may take exams to be certified as:

  • Basic users of a European language through an integrated A1+A2 level exam, whose purpose is to provide incentives to young learners to learn languages, develop their skills and their test- taking strategies.

  • Independent users of a European language through separate exams at B1 and B2 level–designed for people who need to have qualifications for studies and/or employment in Greece and abroad.

  • Proficient users of a language through separate exams at C1 level and soon also at C2 level.

Spanish is offered through a B2 level and soon through a C1 level exam.

Language performance in all languages is measured through the following four Modules:

1. Reading comprehension and language awareness

2. Writing production and mediation

3. Listening comprehension

4. Oral production and mediation.

How do the language exams differ?

Exams in all KPG languages are based on the same theory of language and have common performance expectations which are articulated in the form of “can-do” state­ments. Furthermore, they are designed on the basis of uniform test specifications, evaluation criteria and assessment tools.

What is the rationale and ideology of KPG?

It aims at testing communicative perform­ance in different European languages focusing on the use and the users of the language in ques­tion. The KPG certificate issued is viewed as work qualification and professional credential, as attestation to multiliteracy, instrument for lifelong learn­ing, and a passport for educa­tional and professional mobility inside and outside the E.U.

KPG does not promote a single language and views the language certificate (as all credentials which are considered necessary for access to education and work) as public goods. Furthermore,, it views linguistic pluralism as valuable in today’s Greek society.

KPG has a glocal (global + local) character and is recognized automatically in Greece and European member states as an official document issued by a state organization.

Which are the global characteristics of KPG?

KPG certificates are issued with a view to using language in a global context. Despite the localisation of the exams, its contents have an international orientation, and the language features of its texts are not related to one sociocultural reality because KPG languages are viewed as polycentric.

Does KPG have international qualities?

Yes, it takes into account global conditions of knowledge and production, and interna­tional concerns regarding testing and assessment. It uses international experience for the organiza­tion of the system and development of resources (material and item banks, data bases for tools evaluation, etc.), instruments of language performance measurement, tools for quality assessment, as well as approaches to examiner and rater training. Finally, KPG research findings constitute contributions to the field of testing and assessment interna­tionally.

Which are the local aspects of KPG? 

Basically, it is designed to respond to the demands of education and the labour market in Greece. Secondly, the test papers are address the needs, interests, and experiences of the candidates for whom they are designed and take into account their linguistic and cultural knowledge.

KPG has a public character and a social face. It is not stimulated by private interests but by the public welfare and for this reason it is subsidized by the state. Its motive is not the promotion of a single language as the cultural capital of a nation.

The exams focus on the socially located use of language and not on language as an autonomous system of notions and structures –independent of their socially construed meanings. In other words, it takes into account the social conditions of the target language use.

It is linked with education and social life in Greece. The thematic concerns of texts in the tests are sensitive to local conditions.

Which are the socially sensitive goals of KPG?

Participation in the exams is affordable to everyone as the system aims not at material profit or symbolic gain; their point of reference is not language itself but language use in particular social contexts in ways that are based on social needs and which are socially mean­ingful; they treat all European languages as equal; they make full use of the literacies test takers have in (at least) two languages; they promote the parallel use of languages and intercultural awareness.

Information, exam specifications, past papers:
www.kpg.ypepth.gr / www.uoa.gr/english/rcel

Prof. B. Dendrinos, Academic director of the English Exams

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