Completed her undergraduate studies at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA), Greece, her postgraduate studies at Claremont Graduate School and at U.C.L.A. in the U.S.A. and her postdoctoral studies at the University of Cambridge, England. Involvement with language education in Greece, she was responsible for the first and second extensive foreign language curricula reforms in the 80s and the 90s, and recently led a team of language didactics experts in developing the Integrated Foreign Languages Curriculum (IFLC), which was adopted as the national FL curriculum in 2016. She also directed the research team that designed the ICFL data base (Dendrinos & Gotsoulia 2015) and directed the national programme of English for Young Learners (2010-2014), on the basis of which the first foreign language was introduced to pupils from the first grade of primary school.
Mainly concerned with the discursive practices of TEFL and European educational language planning and policy, she has carried out research in Greece, England, Portugal, and Spain. Her areas of expertise are language education policy and politics, foreign language pedagogy, curriculum, and materials development, as well as language testing and assessment. She has taught FL teaching and learning courses, sociolinguistics, and educational linguistics. Interest in socially accountable applied linguistics has also been involved with critical discourse analysis of language policy texts, linguistic analysis of gender ideology, the linguistic representation of poverty and the bureaucratic discourse in public documents.
Since 2002-2003 she has devoted much of her time to developing a multilingual examination suite that leads to the state certificate of language proficiency, known by its Greek acronym KPG. These exams – in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Turkish – are administered on a national level by the Greek Ministry of Education. Presently, she is also involved in the development of the e-KPG platform which will contain automated services and a computer adaptive testing. Thousands of Greek learners take part in these exams every year and their scripts are the source for data feeding the KPG Corpus. Their performance has also provided ground for numerous research projects, some of which are presented in an edited collection (Karavas & Mitsikopoulou, Peter Lang 2018).
Since 2014-2015, she has been president of the European Civil Society Platform for Multilingualism, organising and supporting actions for multilingualism in European societies, especially in education. As an NGO, with its secretariat in Copenhagen, independent now from the European Commission which launched it in 2009, the organisation’s membership has been growing steadily particularly with academic institutions joining the CURUM (Cluster of University Research Units for Multilingualism) alliance. Its annual symposia, hosted by different universities across Europe each year, are becoming increasingly popular. As of 2021, the ECSPM is partner in the ambitious European Language Equality project, which is concerned with the digital support of the languages spoken in Europe.
Since late 2020 she is director of the scientific committee of the Centre of Excellence for Multilingualism and Language Policy of the NKUA.