Appendix I: The ECML - an overview
The European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML), a Council of Europe Partial Agreement based in Graz, Austria, has been serving the community of language education professionals in its 34 member states for over 15 years. This unique intergovernmental centre – integrated within the Council of Europe’s Department of Language Education and Policy offers concrete approaches to dealing with issues and challenges facing Europe’s multicultural societies in a period of unparalleled change and mobility. The ECML seeks to make a positive difference to language education in Europe by supporting the implementation of Council of Europe language education policies through:
- advancing the quality of teaching and learning languages;
- promoting innovative approaches;
- fostering dialogue between language education researchers, practitioners and decision makers.
The ECML works in direct cooperation with its member states, collaborating in particular with three instances at national level: the Governing Board, the National Nominating Authorities and the National Contact Points. For further information on these instances see section 5.
For more information and the contact details of national representatives see: www.ecml.at/aboutus/members.asp
The Centre has successfully completed two large-scale medium-term programmes of activities comprising more than 50 projects coordinated by international teams of experts and directly involving over six thousand language professionals in Europe and beyond, with the impact reaching as afield as Canada and Japan. Empowering language professionals is the overarching objective of the current, 3rd, programme of ECML activities to be concluded in 2011. At this moment (November 2010), 23 international project teams established by the Centre are finalising their work on developing practical approaches and tools for language education.
The ECML was set up in Graz, Austria, in 1994, as an Enlarged Partial Agreement of the Council of Europe . The Austrian authorities fund the infrastructure of the Centre and put at its disposal modern premises in Graz where the secretariat is based and where the great majority of ECML events are held.
Through its medium-term programmes consisting of projects, workshops and conferences to which participants from the member states are invited, the ECML provides a platform for cooperation with experts, associations and institutions involved in enhancing European standards in language education. It also maintains Europe-wide networks for teacher trainers, researchers and educational administrators.
The ECML works in synergy and coherence with other units of the Council operating in related areas. The activities within the new medium-term programme will be built upon the results of the ECML work delivered under the previous programmes and will also assist member states in implementing policy recommendations and reference instruments developed by the Language Policy Division, and address the relevant aspects of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (a Council of Europe monitoring instrument) relating to language education.
For more information on the ECML see: www.ecml.at
For more information on the Language Policy Division see: www.coe.int/lang
For more information on the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages see: www.coe.int/minlang
The hallmark of the ECML is the organisation of international language education projects. Coordinated by teams of experts, these projects primarily target multipliers in language education such as teacher trainers, textbook authors and experts in the area of the development of curricula, educational standards, evaluation/assessment and certification.
A characteristic feature of Council of Europe projects (in Strasbourg and in Graz) is the vision of an overall concept of language education, integrating all languages rather than focusing on the teaching and learning of individual languages. This vision is promoted by the Language Policy Division through its Language Education Policy Profile activity, the Guide for the Development of Language Education Policies in Europe, and its recent Guide for the Development and Implementation of Curricula for Plurilingual and Intercultural Education (Council of Europe / Language Policy Division 2010a). This approach has proved to be highly effective in the work of the Division and the ECML creating synergies between different linguistic and educational cultures and communities. In addition, this working concept promotes plurilingualism by addressing overall features of language education responding to linguistic and cultural diversity.
The Centre’s projects are organised within a four-year programme. The second medium-term programme (2004–2007) grouped 22 projects under the title Languages for social cohesion – language education in a multilingual and multicultural Europe. The projects covered a wide range of themes under four general headings:
- Coping with linguistic and social diversity
- Communication in a multicultural society
- Professional development and reference tools
- Innovative approaches and new technologies
For more information on the projects of the second medium-term programme see: www.ecml.at/socialcohesion
The Centre’s third medium-term programme (2008-2011) entitled Empowering language professionals: Competences – Networks – Impact – Quality encompasses 23 different projects and addresses the following four thematic areas:
B. Continuity in language learning
C. Content and language education
D. Plurilingual education
The third medium-term programme of the ECML will come to a conclusion in September 2011 with a large-scale international conference in Graz. This event will serve to present and disseminate the outcomes of the programme to a wide professional public in Europe.
The results of the conference – as with all the publications, reports and CD-Roms resulting from the ECML’s activities – will be available on the ECML website and will be distributed by the Communication, Documentation and Resource Centre via the ECML’s networks. More information about these two essential services, which are at the disposal of ECML projects and participants, can be found on www.ecml.at.
For more information on the ECML projects within its third medium-term programme see: www.ecml.at/empowerment