Test of Russian as a Foreign Language (TORFL) certificates have been awarded to successful candidates in Thessaloniki, Greece. The TORFL test was organised by the Language Testing Centre at St Petersburg University. The awards ceremony was held in the Centre of the Russian Language and Culture ‘Russian Word’. This has been home to the representative office of St Petersburg University in Greece since 2019.

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The largest test session of Russian as a foreign language in Europe, with as many as 200 test takers, was held during three days. The event was supported by the All-Greek Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature.

Over 70% of the candidates passed the test at level A1 and B1. The TORFL A1 test certificate is evidence of Russian language proficiency for people who want to pursue a career in tourism and hospitality. Greece remains a popular tourist destination among Russian tourists. The TORFL B1 test certificate is essential for people applying for higher education in Russia.

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Among the test takers were those who gained professional success in learning Russian as a foreign language. However, there are only a few Greeks who are fluent in Russian, but more than in other countries, says the Director of the Language Testing Centre at St Petersburg University.

Greece ranks among the three top countries across the globe in terms of the number of people who take the advanced test C1 and proficiency test C2. In other words, Greece is home to the majority of those who gained proficiency in Russian as a foreign language. As a rule, 85–90% of candidates are successful. This year is record-breaking – it has reached 98%. Those who failed the test have already registered to resit it in late February.

Dmitry Ptyushkin, Acting Director of the Language Testing Centre at St Petersburg University

Among the test takers there were not only candidates from Thessaloniki but also language enthusiasts from other cities and towns across Greece. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the certificates were awarded throughout the week as there are restrictions on gatherings. Everyone came at a specific time following the rules and guidance.

Each year, as many as 1,000 candidates take the TORFL test in Greece. By the end of 2021, the number is expected to be 1.5 times higher.

The Language Testing Centre has proposed a large-scale plan to increase the number of test sessions in Greece: ‘In 2019, we hold such sessions twice a year, namely in summer and winter. Today, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are holding the first autumn session in Athens. The winter session will include more cities across Greece. We won’t back-pedal even if the pandemic progresses. Greeks are well aware of it.  The University has been committed to increasing the number of test sessions even when we are having a tough time. It means more chances to tell the world about the Russian language.’

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