Sifakis, Nicos

I would like to thank Richard for inviting me to this vibrant community. I’ve taken a few rounds reading some of the other contributors’ profiles and must say I am really impressed with the depth and breadth of interests. A few words about me, then. I am based in Greece and have been working as a tutor and full-time academic at the Hellenic Open University since 1998. My main research interests lie with ESOL teacher education and, more recently, looking into ways of using the state-school English language classroom as an area where English can be taught and learned as a non-threatening language, as a means of communication and identity expression among so-called “non-native” users of it. In other words, I am interested in looking into the tensions between the traditional EFL paradigm (so often taken for granted in the so-called “periphery”) and the more modern, or (as Richard characterizes it, postmodern) EIL or ELF paradigm.

Richard and I have worked on a number of papers and conference talks on what he terms MATE (multicultural awareness through English). Among the issues we have looked into was how the Greek EFL curriculum fares with regard to the MATE paradigm (as expected, not very well…).

Another related area of interest for me is looking into the reasons that lie behind Greek teachers’ perceptions (indeed, convictions) about English language teaching. I am fascinated by the fact that – as Areti-Maria Sougari and I found out  – when asked about what they teach, the great majority of Greek state school teachers strongly favoured the native speaker paradigm (teaching Standard English, aiming for accuracy, etc), whereas, when asked about what best works in everyday communication they (equally strongly) favoured the ability to engage in discourse that is primarily comprehensible and intelligible (ie despite grammar and expression errors).

It is this very paradox about teachers’ beliefs (and, again, I refer to ESOL teachers who live and work in the “periphery”) that I am currently focusing on. It seems to me that what is necessary is a teaching education instrument that appreciates the need for teachers to address their deepest convictions, beliefs and experiences that inform such perceptions. It seems to me that such an instrument can be found in Jack Mezirow’s transformative learning theory (for more about this and my suggestion of how it can be integrated in ESOL teacher education see here .

More information about me.

An interview with Nicos in ELT News.


  • Nicos Sifakis

    Thank you, Achillea, your work sounds very interesting. Perhaps you may consider submitting a paper to Research Papers in Language Teaching and Learning (RPLTL), the e-journal of the Hellenic Open University that I edit (

  • Achilleas Kostoulas


    Given your research focus on the tensions between the EFL and the EIL paradigms, you might be interested in some of the papers listed here (particularly section b). My two ‘Albanian’ papers (the conference presentation and the journal article that came out of it) touch on English as a Lingua Franca and complement your own work (Sifakis & Sougari 2005) by adding a qualitative dimension to the discussion.