en  fr  de
  1. Home
  2.  > 
  3.  > 
    Programme 2020-2023
  4.  > 
    CEFR Companion Volume implementation toolbox
  5.  > 


In broad terms, mediation can be defined as a process in which the “distance” or “tension” between individuals who wish to communicate is reduced. The distance or tension can stem from the gap in knowledge or competence (cognitive mediation) or a conflict (relational mediation) and the reduction of the distance or the resolution of the conflict requires the use of language (Coste and Cavalli 2015: 12-13). In the educational setting, cognitive mediation comprises activities that aim at facilitating learners' knowledge and skills. Relational mediation, on the other hand, comprises the activities that help manage interactions between interlocutors and prevent or resolve tensions and conflicts among them. Conflicts or misunderstandings may arise due to, for example, deficits in cultural, social, or language competences. Here the goal of a successful mediation is to create an environment that will enable learners to understand one another and cooperate successfully.

Using language as a means of mediation involves four fundamental types of mediation: linguistic, cultural, social, and pedagogic (North and Piccardo 2016: 9-11). Linguistic mediation can be interlinguistic (cross-linguistic), that is, involving two or more languages; for example, during the activities of translation, interpretation, or collaboration in a multilingual group when the speakers alternate the use of several languages to reach the goal of the communicative activity. However, linguistic mediation can also be intralinguistic when the mediation processes happen within one language. Intralinguistic activities involve processing information and changing the text format, genre, style, etc. Such activities include, for example, summarising, paraphrasing, streamlining, or amplifying information to help understand the communicated information. In intralinguistic mediation, language users/learners concentrate on both the transfer of information and the use of language in a way that is appropriate to the context.

Finally, pedagogic mediation is an aspect of mediation that describes activities and strategies that educators use to facilitate access to knowledge within the context of a classroom, seminar, workshop, vocational or professional training. Such activities include encouraging critical thinking, encouraging creativity, and creating conditions for developing ideas through collaboration in group activities (collaborative co-construction of the meaning).

This ECML project "CEFR Companion Volume Implementation Toolbox (VITbox)" follows the view of mediation presented in CEFR Companion Volume (2020) where "the [language] user/learner acts as a social agent who creates bridges and helps to construct or convey meaning” (CEFR CV 2020: 90). The project’s module on mediation aims to provide adaptable materials for teacher educators and for teachers’ self-study purposes who would like to learn more about mediation activities and strategies as well as how the activities and strategies could be incorporated in foreign language pedagogy. For specific information on cross-lingual mediation, it is recommended to consult materials developed in “Mediation in Teaching, Learning and Assessment – METLA”, another European Centre for Modern Languages project.

Using a foreign language always involves immersing in the foreign culture, which involves “passing from one culture to another” (North and Piccardo 2016: 9). For instance, while speaking a foreign language, a proficient language user produces the utterances in such a way that they conform to the socio-cultural norms of the foreign language. Apart from this, different languages sometimes contain words for ideas that are “untranslatable” between languages. Cultural mediation aims to enable understanding across speakers of different languages and cultures. Passing the information across cultures should be done without surrendering the integrity of the source information. Such activities require language users/learners to develop “cultural awareness,” which is the ability to evaluate critically one’s own and other cultures and countries (Byram, Gribkova, and Starkey 2002: 13).

The “Mediation” module in VITbox project materials consists of three sections: 

 Introduction to mediation

 Applying the CEFR Companion Volume scale of Mediating concepts

 Applying the CEFR Companion Volume scale of Mediation strategies

Each of the three sections has three parts. In the first part, VITbox users are presented with such professional development resources as videos, PowerPoint presentations, and commented PowerPoint presentations which explain the definition and different aspects of mediation. In the second part, there are video scripts and in the third part, there are classroom activities whose purpose is to provoke discussion on the usefulness of the activities and the mediation skills that could be taught and learned while using the activities with students. The activities are accompanied by a checklist associated with the particular aspect of mediation. The checklist has been designed to encourage reflection. 


Byram, Michael, Gribkova, Bella, and Hugh Starkey. 2002. Developing the Intercultural Dimension in Language Teaching: A Practical Introduction for Teachers. Strasbourg: Language Policy Division Directorate of School, Out-of-School and Higher Education DGIV Council of Europe Publishing. 

Coste, Daniel and Marisa Cavalli. 2015. Education, Mobility, Otherness: The Mediation Functions of Schools. Strasbourg: Language Policy Unit Education Policy Division Education Department Directorate of Democratic Citizenship and Participation DGII – Directorate General of Democracy Council of Europe Publishing. 

Council of Europe. 2001. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Council of Europe. 2020. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Companion Volume. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing. 

METLA Project. www.ecml.at/mediation 

North, Brian and Enrica Piccardo. 2016. Developing illustrative descriptors of aspects of mediation for the CEFR. Strasbourg: Education Policy Division, Council of Europe Publishing.