5.2.1 Support for migrant language education
Teachers and educational authorities in many ECML member states are developing strategies to cater for the language needs of children and adult migrants. Significant efforts are made to provide support for the learning of the language(s) of the host country in order to facilitate access to the social and professional life of the majority population. It is worth exploring examples of good practice and pooling innovative approaches in order to elaborate practical material, instruction files or tools to effectively support migrant learners’ development of competences in the majority language(s).
As outlined in the description of the programme, it is important for migrants to have the opportunity to develop language competences in their home language(s) – the language(s) spoken at home by children and adult migrants. It is argued that “access to literacy in two languages benefits cognitive development. Thus the home language skills of children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds should be fostered by whatever means are practically available, partly as a matter of human rights and partly in order to increase society’s linguistic and cultural capital” (Council of Europe/Language Policy Division 2010). Also, for their peers in classrooms and for adult majority language speakers of the host country, awareness-raising activities through inclusive, plurilingual and intercultural approaches are important features of good quality education and provide positive impact for the society as a whole.
Projects covering the theme “support for migrant language education” can address either the learning of the host country’s language(s) or the learning of the home language(s) but are expected to acknowledge the need of the learner to develop both strands.
For further information on ECML work in the area of migrant language education please consult the websites and publications of current/previous ECML projects:
Majority language instruction as basis for plurilingual education: http://marille.ecml.at
Valuing all languages in Europe: http://www.ecml.at/mtp2/Valeur/html/Valeur_E_Results.htm
5.2.2 Regional or minority languages
In correspondence with the policies of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages the ECML seeks to promote and support educational provision for regional and minority language speakers. Following the principles of inclusive, plurilingual and intercultural approaches a project proposed for this theme will look at how to bring closer together the teaching, learning and use of both, minority and majority languages.
A project could, for example, identify what is needed for the setting-up of a bilingual kindergarten and draft a list of recommendations for such an endeavour. Alternatively, within the framework of informal learning, a project could explore promotional means and measures for giving regional or minority languages enhanced visibility in social, cultural and public life with the aim of making the learning of these languages attractive for a wider public. Other ideas aiming at developing practical tools are welcome.
For further information on ECML work in the area of regional and minority languages please consult the websites and publications of current/previous ECML projects:
Coping with linguistic and social diversity – provisions, profiles, materials: http://www.ecml.at/Programme/Programme20042007/tabid/156/language/en-GB/Default.aspx
5.2.3 Sign languages and language provision for the blind and visually impaired
Based on the experience of the project “Languages for People with Special Educational Needs" carried out in the 2004-2007 ECML programme, the ECML seeks to strengthen cooperation with associations and experts representing the deaf and hearing impaired and the blind and visually impaired. It is planned to target a clearly defined public and to develop and/or promote concrete tools for enhanced learning of this target group.
Examples of possible areas of project work are: the development of a European reference for sign language curricula and other supports for deaf education, a tool of common reference for existing sign languages, modules for teacher education, evaluation and assessment of learning, bilingual classrooms, access to all areas of education etc. The promotion of existing tools could, for example, provide support for using the electronic European Language Portfolio for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ELPBVI).
For further information on ECML work in the area of languages for special needs please consult the website of the previous ECML project:
Languages for People with Special Educational Needs: http://www.ecml.at/mtp2/LangSEN/html/LangSEN_E_pdesc.htm
5.2.4 Evaluation and assessment
The ECML welcomes project proposals contributing to the implementation and further dissemination of its work in the area of evaluation and assessment of language competences. The aim is to improve both the quality of learning through formative assessment and the quality of summative assessment and testing at all levels (i.e. classroom tests, school-leaving tests, other high-stakes language examinations). From the perspective of the learner goal-setting strategies, reflective learning and self- and peer assessment (as examples for formative assessment) are prerequisites for developing knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for a successful learning career. This normally coincides with positive assessment of educational authorities.
With regard to formative assessment the ECML welcomes proposals building on ELP approaches opening the way to autonomous learning, self-assessment and plurilingualism. Experience has shown that the implementation both of the ELP as a tool and the ELP approach as a learning process represent complex and challenging undertakings. How to manage the change process involved in benefitting from ELP approaches by providing easy access, enjoyable work and rewarding results? Can formative assessment help in developing literacy strategies or oral skills? This and similar concrete questions may help in identifying an entry point for formulating a project proposal.
Summative assessment is of continued importance to learners as well as to educational authorities. Quality assessment adapting to changing policies and taking into account the learners’ diversity is a task for highly qualified professionals and teachers need specialised training in this respect. Proposals for summative assessment should take the developments of the EU initiative “European Indicator for Language Competence” and other relevant activities into account. The aim is to provide practical support for enhancing standards in this area incorporating elements of feasible good practice.
For further information on ECML work in the area of evaluation and assessment please consult the following website: http://www.ecml.at/Activities/Programme20082011/ThematicAreaEvaluation/tabid/161/language/en-GB/Default.aspx
5.2.5 Innovative approaches in foreign language learning
In this context, innovation can be defined as an approach for introducing planned quality changes in language education. Given the diversity of educational contexts in Europe the issues of innovation vary to a great extent. Therefore, a project proposed on the theme of innovative approaches needs to clearly indicate the relevance of the proposed content, ideally to all ECML member states.
The role of English and motivation to learn other languages beyond English are examples of issues of broad relevance. Reportedly, there is a significant decline in enrolment for language classes other than English in many countries. To counteract this tendency it is important to look at ways of enhancing the extrinsic motivation of learners, such as promoting the relevance of languages for the job market, for mobility or for better knowledge and understanding of international developments. A project dealing with this topic could build upon existing material for promoting language learning (e.g. publications of the European Commission: “50 ways to motivate language learners” or “Languages for Europe – 30 projects for promoting language learning”).
For further information on ECML work in the area of innovative approaches in language learning please consult the publications dedicated to this area on the following website: