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    Language-sensitive teacher education

Building blocks for planning language-sensitive
teacher education

What is language-sensitive teaching and how can it be embedded
in teacher education programmes?

Building blocks help teacher educators and curriculum planners working with teachers of different languages and subjects to embed language-sensitive education into teacher education curricula and courses of all languages and subjects. The aim of language-sensitive teacher education is to enable practising and future teachers to meet the language and communication needs of their learners.

Taking account of language aims in learners’ curricula

How are language-related objectives described in curricula for learners? This Building block highlights the importance of taking account of these requirements in teacher education.

What does language-sensitive teaching and learning involve?

All teachers, whatever their subject and the age of their learners, have a responsibility to support them in further developing their language and literacy competences so that, over time, they become fully able to use language(s) effectively for different purposes, both in their learning and in life. Thus language-sensitive teaching involves helping each individual learner to use language(s) more and more effectively in their learning and to become progressively more aware of how languages can be used for different purposes in the wider world. This means that teachers must consider the language repertoires and language needs of their learners, the language demands of different subjects (including the materials and tasks used) and the ways in which they themselves use language in their teaching. By doing so, teachers will be able to support each of their learners with the language-related aspects of learning, across different language varieties and different languages.

On this website you will find

A Building block for orientation which explores in detail what language-sensitive education means and what it can include.

A Building block which examines how learners’ curricula address learners’ own language awareness and language development.

Three Building blocks which each include guidelines, reflection questions and tasks to help make language-sensitive teaching an integral part of pre-service and in-service teacher education programmes.

Profiles which illustrate the competences related to language-sensitive education needed by teachers of a range of different subjects, integrated in a Building block offering tasks for exploring and adapting the Profiles for specific contexts.

How can the Building blocks be used?

Ways of using the Building blocks will vary according to the context of teacher education.

Teacher educators with responsibility for the detailed planning and the delivery of  specific teacher education modules or courses can use the relevant Building blocks to decide on ways of addressing language sensitivity in their courses, even those that are more theoretical, such as educational psychology, and also in the assignments they set on specific topics or school subjects, in lesson observation protocols, and in the preparation and assessment of classroom teaching.

Those working at policy level in government or institutions who have responsibility for planning and revising curricula for initial teacher education or programmes for in-service professional development can use the Building blocks to explore and decide on ways of strengthening the focus on language(s) and language sensitivity in the programmes they are overseeing. 

If there are opportunities for colleagues or teams in which curriculum planners, heads of department and teacher educators can work together and across subject boundaries on the tasks and resources offered by the Building blocks, this will facilitate a team approach to language sensitivity in teacher education.


ID: 10
Name: Building blocks for planning language-sensitive teacher education
Shortcut: www.ecml.at/languagesensitiveteachereducation
FlyerUrl: https://www.ecml.at/Portals/1/6MTP/documents/project-results-6mtp-EN.pdf
Type: ENDE
Year: 2023
En: True
Fr: False
De: False


guidelines for reviewing and developing teacher education curricula
model tasks for curriculum orientation, reflection and design
profiles of teacher competences related to language-sensitive education

Target groups

  • teacher educators
  • curriculum planners for teacher education programmes

Project team


United Kingdom

Associate partners: Alsu Hug (Switzerland), Catherine Ferris (Switzerland), Marianna Karatsiori (Greece), Milena Kostic (Serbia), Tamara Ðordevic (Serbia), Wilfrid Kuster (Switzerland), Mai Trang Vu (Sweden).

View project pages

 Key references 


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