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Council of Europe resources

A guide to teacher competences for languages in education

Language teacher competences are crucial to the quality and effectiveness of language education. Successful language learning depends in large part on the knowledge, skills and attitudes of language teachers. In addition, in the world of today all teachers need to be critically aware of the role that language and communication play in education and in life in general, to be able to use language(s) sensitively in their teaching, whatever their subject, and to develop students’ general language awareness.

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Language skills for successful subject learning

These resources highlight challenges for young learners in subject classes where the language of instruction is not their first language. The focus is on minimum language standards in history/civics and mathematics for learners aged 12/13 and 15/16. The language descriptors are linked to CEFR levels A2, B1 and B2 and available in six languages.

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A Handbook for Curriculum Development and Teacher Training - the Language Dimension in all Subjects 

Beacco J.C., Fleming M., Goullier F.,Thürmann E., Vollmer H (2016). Strasbourg: Council of Europe. https://rm.coe.int/a-handbook-for-curriculum-development-and-teacher-training-the-languag/16806af387

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, assessment - Companion volume (2020)

The CEFR Companion volume broadens the scope of language education. It reflects academic and societal developments since the publication of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and updates the 2001 version. It owes much to the contributions of members of the language teaching profession across Europe and beyond.

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CEFR Companion Volume with New Descriptors

Council of Europe (2018). Strasbourg: Council of Europe. https://rm.coe.int/cefr-companion-volume-with-new-descriptors-2018/1680787989

Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (RFCDC) 

The Council of Europe (2018).  https://www.coe.int/en/web/reference-framework-of-competences-for-democratic-culture/rfcdc-volumes (especially volume 2, chapter 2 ‘the full bank of validated descriptors’ – sections: 2, 4, 9, 12, 15 and 19)

Other resources



“Sprachsensibler Fachunterricht - Verknüpfung von inhaltlichen und sprachlichen Lernzielen in jedem Fachunterricht”

Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) und die Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK)
“Blended Learning Fortbildungen: Kurse, Bausteine, Einheiten”:  https://www.biss-sprachbildung.de/angebote-fuer-die-praxis/blended-learning/kurse-bausteine-einheiten/ 

These blended learning courses are aimed at educational professionals including teachers working at the three stages of school education: pre-primary, primary and secondary. The courses cover basic overarching and stage-specific areas. There are also units on the practical use of assessment tools and on measures to foster language development.

Also: information about the research network and projects: https://www.biss-sprachbildung.de/forschung-und-entwicklung/forschungsnetzwerk/allgemeine-informationen/

Josef Leisen
“Sprachbildung und Bildungssprache” http://www.sprachsensiblerfachunterricht.de/sprachbildung  (see also his ‚downloads‘, including downloads for use in initial and in service teacher education.

Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK)
“Bildungssprachliche Kompetenzen in der deutschen Sprache stärken” https://www.kmk.org/fileadmin/Dateien/...ngssprachl-Kompetenzen.pdf  - see e.g. definitions on pages 3 & 4 and basic principles on pages 4 & 5

“Documentation on the current measures based on the ten principles for successfully strengthening educational language skills in German that have been adopted in federal states” (expanding on the previous document) https://www.kmk.org/fileadmin/D...ssprachliche-Kompetenzen.pdf  (especially chapter 10 and relevant links)

Stiftung Mercator and Ministerium für Schule und Berlin des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen
Oleschko, S. (ed) (2017) Sprachsensibles Unterrichten fördern : https://sprachsensibles-unterrichten.de/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Buch_Sprachsensibles-Unterrichten-foerdern.pdf

The Netherlands

van Dijk, G., Hajer, M., Kuiper, H., Eijkelhof, H. (2021) A language sensitive pedagogy for science and technology: reading, talking and writing about practical work. Hogeschool Utrecht.   


van Eerde, D. et al. (2006) Kijkwijzer voor taalgericht vakonderwijs (Pointers to the language dimension of vocational education) Enschede: Stichting leerplanontwikkeling (SLO) https://docplayer.nl/404598-Kijkwijzer-voor-taalgericht-vakonderwijs.html  - language sensitive lesson observation and reflection tools.

van Hoyweghen, D et al. (2014) Tal ontwikkelend lesgeven in het hoger onderwijs. hoe doe je dat? (Language-developmental teaching in higher education: how do you do that?) – Artevelde Hogeschool https://www.arteveldehogeschool.be/sites/default/files/leidraad_tol2_gvd.pdf