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Training teachers to use the European Language Portfolio

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2 Training teachers to use the European Language Portfolio
Short-term project ELP_TT2 Ülle Türk, Estonia

3 Developed by David Little adapted by Ülle Türk
The European Language Portfolio: origins, key principles and design features Developed by David Little adapted by Ülle Türk

4 What is the ELP?

5 Aims of the ELP = a document in which those who are learning or have learned a language – whether at school or outside school – can record their language learning and cultural experiences ( to motivate learners by acknowledging their efforts to extend and diversify their language skills at all levels; to provide a record of the linguistic and cultural skills they have acquired

6 Where did the ELP come from?

7 The Council of Europe Founded in 1949 to:
Defend human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law Develop continent-wide agreements to standardize member countries’ social and legal practices Promote awareness of a European identity based on shared values and cutting across different cultures

8 Key instruments European Convention on Human Rights (1950)
European Cultural Convention (1954)

9 Council of Europe and language learning
European Cultural Convention, Article 2: “Each Contracting Party shall, insofar as may be possible, a) encourage the study by its own nationals of the languages, history and civilisation of the other Contracting Parties and grant facilities to those Parties to promote such studies in its territory, and b) endeavour to promote the study of its language or languages, history and civilisation in the territory of the other Contracting Parties and grant facilities to the nationals of those Parties to pursue such studies in its territory”

10 The Council of Europe‘s cultural/educational agenda
Education for democratic citizenship  hence a commitment to learner autonomy and lifelong learning Promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity  hence a commitment to plurilingualism and partial competences Facilitating individual mobility  hence a desire to establish a means of comparing different systems of certification

11 Implementing this agenda
Language Policy Division (Strasbourg) Responsible for developing key policy documents and instruments, including the Common European Framework of Reference and the European Language Portfolio

12 Implementing this agenda
European Centre for Modern Languages (Graz) “Partial agreement” (33 C of E member states) Projects built around workshops and conferences aim to disseminate ideas and good practice in relation to language teaching and learning. : 20 projects with 4 strands ELP_TT2: Short-term project for further implementation of the ELP and materials developed in ELP_TT ( )

13 Origins of the CEFR and the ELP
Rüschlikon Symposium (1991) recommended the development of a Common European Framework for Languages to Promote and facilitate co-operation among educational institutions in different countries Provide a sound basis for the mutual recognition of language qualifications Assist learners, teachers, course designers, examining bodies and educational administrators to situate and coordinate their efforts.

14 ELP pilot projects ( ) Piloting (18 educational institutions, all domains of language learning; 30,000 learners, 2000 teachers) 15 Council of Europe member states Swiss ELP-project:  supported the rest by making available checklists that drew on the empirical research on which the common reference levels of the CEFR are based The Principles and Guidelines that define the ELP and govern validation and accreditation evolved in parallel with this work.

15 Key principles

16 Principle 1 The promotion of plurilingualism and pluriculturalism:
Each ELP must take account of all the owner’s language and intercultural learning, wherever it takes place It must provide space for recording (i) all experience of learning and using second/foreign languages and (ii) competence in a number of languages An exception has been made for ELPs designed for use by migrants learning the language of their host community.

17 Principle 2 The ELP is the property of the learner:
The individual learner owns his/her ELP in a literal and a metaphorical sense The individual learner is responsible for his/her ELP as a physical object The individual learner is also responsible for the regular self-assessment that is fundamental to effective ELP use Note that self-assessment generally requires guidance appropriate to the age of the learner

18 Principle 3 The ELP has two functions:
A pedagogic function - to guide and support the learner in the process of language learning A reporting function - to record proficiency in second/foreign languages These two functions are interdependent: If the ELP is not central to the experience of language learning, there will be little worth reporting The effort to capture and record the process as well as the products of learning drives the pedagogical function forward

19 Principle 4 The ELP is based on the CEFR:
It makes explicit use of the CEFR’s common reference levels These levels are summarized in the self-assessment grid (Table 2 of the CEFR), which must be included in all ELP models An exception is made in the case of ELPs for very young learners (the self-assessment grid must be available to teachers, parents and other stakeholders)

20 Principle 5 The self-assessment grid is not enough:
ELPs must also include appropriately formulated and detailed checklists (“I can …”) to help learners (and teachers) to set learning targets and evaluate learning outcomes

21 Principle 6 The ELP records more than self-assessment
It encourages the recording of assessment by teachers, educational authorities and examination bodies Note that the principle of learner ownership means that the recording of teacher assessment should always be independent of the learner’s self-assessment

22 Key design features

23 Design feature 1 The ELP has three parts:
The language passport - an updateable overview of the learner’s experience in and ability with different languages The language biography facilitates the learner’s involvement in planning, reflecting upon and assessing his/her learning process and progress The dossier - a collection of pieces of work and certificates chosen by the learner to document and illustrate their language skills, experiences and achievements

24 Design feature 2 The language passport must
provide for learners from ethnic minorities and expatriate/migrant groups who have a more advanced proficiency in one or more languages than their peer group is likely to achieve in school accommodate the recording of partial competences allow the owner to record formal qualifications and significant language and intercultural learning experiences

25 Design feature 3 The “standard adult passport”
To facilitate pan-European recognition and mobility a standard adult passport is promoted by the Council of Europe The Council of Europe can provide an A5 four-colour design template (Quark Xpress) for validated ELPs that include the standard adult passport The Council of Europe can also provide the standard adult passport in A4 format (monochrome)

26 Design feature 4 The language biography and recursive use:
The language biography encourages the learner to include information on linguistic, cultural and learning experiences gained in and outside formal educational contexts The principle of plurilingualism requires that some language biography pages focus specifically on the learner’s developing plurilingual identity All language biography pages should be designed with recursive use in mind

27 Design feature 5 Terminology and general presentation:
Every ELP must adhere to terminological conventions, standard headings and rubrics as specified by the Council of Europe, in at least one of the official languages of the Council of Europe (English or French) in addition to any other languages Every ELP must include a standard text about the Council of Europe (downloadable from the ELP website:) Every ELP must contain any necessary copyright attributions, state where its descriptors came from, and be clearly organized (all pages must be numbered)

28 Design feature 6 Language(s) of presentation and language(s) of process: At an early stage of design ELP developers should decide on the language(s) of presentation and the language(s) of process The Irish ELP for secondary learners has checklists in five languages The Czech ELP uses Czech, English, German and French, and provides free space for another language



31 Support for ELP developers
The annotated version of the Principles and Guidelines (2004) The guide for ELP developers by Günther Schneider and Peter Lenz The bank of descriptors compiled by Günther Schneider and Peter Lenz The templates for language biography pages on learning how to learn and intercultural learning, compiled by David Little and Barbara Simpson All the above are available at the Council of Europe’s ELP website (

32 Workshop task (Handout 1)

33 From piloting to implementation

34 Piloting results Learners of all ages quickly tire of the ELP if they work with it only occasionally, in order to bring it up to date (especially when that is simple a matter of filling in forms and ticking boxes) Learners value the ELP to the extent that it is central to their language learning When the ELP is central to language learning it supports the development of learner reflection, self-management and autonomy The reporting and pedagogical functions support one another

35 Interim-report 2008 by Rolf Schärer
99 validated models (about 30 countries) 3 million copies produced about learners involved In 16 countries the ELP models cover all educational sectors from primary to adult Several models have been developed by international teams Most ELP developments have been closely related to curriculum reforms The ELP has been used in many projects to mediate such concepts as plurilingualism, partial competence, learner autonomy, intercultural competence, self-assessment to teachers and learners

36 Conclusions so far The ELP is an effective learning and reporting tool in a wide variety of contexts The ELP fosters dialogue and cooperation in the learning process beyond language learning The ELP fosters learner autonomy and positively affects motivation The ELP is an effective tool of reflection and helps develop self-assessment competence The ELP reflects key educational concerns such as communicative, partial and intercultural competence The underlying principles of the ELP promote unity in diversity without being prescriptive

37 But also ... Not all learners and teachers favour a learner centred-approach which shifts responsibility to the learner The ELP is not a viable proposition if it is used mechanically to check progress The ELP has to yield tangible benefits for the learners, teachers and schools if it is to remain attractive A gap too wide between the demands of the curriculum and the ELP principles is difficult to manage Space in the working routine is needed to make good use of the ELP The status of the ELP needs to be defined on the broad educational level as well as in the local context Sustained learner and teacher support is needed to achieve the desirable long-term effects

38 Workshop task (Handout 2)

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