Over thelast few decades, population mobility and movement from one country to another hasresulted in linguistic and cultural diversity being much more visible. Many European countries having in recentdecades welcomed moderate population migrations, now have an increasinglymulticultural populace (Dobbernack & Modood, 2011; Turton & Gon?alez, 2000).This increase in visibility has, for many, been seen as constituting a positiveoutcome. However, this is not auniversal axiom. Partly as a result of large refugee influxes as well as inconjunction with economic pressures on the middle class, there has been an upsurgeworldwide in the number of ethnocentric identity groups believing that peoplewho are linguistically and culturally different from themselves constitute anegative influence, and therefore must be excluded. This chance has led tosocieties having to face a dawning reality that more efforts need to be made tocounteract what some refer to as ethno-nationalist populism (Bonikowski, 2017).
The question is what can we do to decrease this rise? Greece is an example of a country historicallymonolingual and monocultural, which gradually became more diverse because ofthe large number of migrants which came to stay in the 1990s and 2000s. Theseearlier immigrants, whether documented or undocumented came seeking a betterfuture and in many cases, they came to stay. The Greek educational system putvarious policies and programs into place intended to assist in the educationand integration of the new arrivals. These earlier arrivals wanted tostay. Recently though, large numbers ofrefugees have arrived, who unlike former migrants, do not want to stay, and yetbecause of EU policy cannot leave and while wanting to learn other languages,are reluctant to learn Greek, thus adding contextual challenges to the entireprocess. Educators are at the forefront of those tasked withdealing with the issues of immigrant and now refugee integration. They need wowork effectively with linguistically and culturally diverse students.
Itdoesn’t always relate exclusively to teaching strategies and techniques, butalso must take into consideration issues of diversity, culture, language,sensitivity and efficacy. As such, weposit that these need to be looked at and incorporated in teacher preparationprograms. PurposeOur focus in this paper, or better yet research brief,is to look at how equipped pre-service teachers are in Greek Higher EducationInstitutions (HEI). The research questions of the study are related to interculturalsensitivity (IS), multicultural efficacy (ME), attitudes towardsmultilingualism (ML) of students attending teacher education programs. We look toidentify factors which may influence the IS and ME of preservice primaryeducation teachers in Greece by addressing: a) what is the IS and ME of teachereducation students, b) what factors appear to influence the extent of their IS andME and c) what are their attitudes regarding ML. To this end, we administered onlineadjusted versions of a) Chen and Starosta’s (2000) IS Scale, b) Guyton andWesche’s (2005) ME Scale and c) survey questions on perceived values of beingable to communicate in additional languages to over 200 pre-serviceteacher-education students in different geographically situated Greekuniversities.
DemographicRealitiesToday, societies tend to be characterized by increasedmovement of people from their point of origin to other places. Worldwide onenotes that people are moving for a variety of reasons, some because they seeksomething new and thus choose to move and do so on their own terms. Others because they have no other choice. In 2015, 4.7 million people immigrated to oneof the 28 EU countries while another 2.
8 million EU residents migrated out ofEU states (Eurostat, 2017). The number of children from immigrant and migrantfamilies attending schools throughout many European countries has increasedduring the last two decades. Looking at numbers in Greece before the economiccrisis, of the over 10 million persons living in Greece over 10% were of non-Greekheritage and in areas of Athens the percentage jumped to well over 50% withcommensurate percentages related in the school age population most arriving inthe last 20 years (Spinthourakis& Katsillis, 2003). This increase has changed classroom demographics movingthem from cultural and linguistic homogeneity to one more markedlyheterogeneous, with recent non-Greek population drops to 6.6% not significantlychanging the educational landscape (Triandafyllidou & Mantanika, 2016).