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What kinds of language-related competences are expected of learners?

This section features a simple overview of different learner competences related to language in education.

In the Bulding blocs resources, we use the term ‘language-related competences’ as an umbrella term for a range of competences that learners need to develop during their schooling and beyond, including language and communicative competences, language awareness, and intercultural competences. 

Figure 1 below contains a brief overview of these competence domains and some of the aspects involved. The overview is intended as a quick entry point into the topic of language-related competences. In the overview, a distinction is made between three main areas: 

(1) Language and communicative competences. These are the competences related to the language(s) and varieties of language needed by learners in the learning of any subject, including language subjects.
(2) Language awareness. This category contains the metalinguistic competences that are associated with the learning of language subjects as well as other subjects.
(3) Further language-related competences. This is an open category that contains competences that are not typically considered to be language competences in a strict sense but are nevertheless strongly linked to language in different ways.

TASK A Read the different bubbles in Figure 1 and reflect on the following questions:

i. Which language-related competences are you concerned with in your teacher education context?

ii. Does the figure cover the relevant language-related learner competences for your context, as represented in learners' curricula or related documents and instruments? If not, which ones would you add?

Figure 1 – Learners’ language-related competences

Some of the language-related competences described above have been the focus of specific ECML and Council of Europe projects. A quick overview can be found here on the Guide to Teacher Competences for Languages in Education website.

General language and communicative competences, especially for foreign languages, are at the heart of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The Framework of Reference for Pluralistic Approaches to Languages and Cultures (FREPA) features learner competences relevant to plurilingual and intercultural education. Language competences and language awareness for subjects other than languages are presented on two ECML websites, Language Skills for Successful Subject LearningLanguage Skills for Successful Subject Learning and Developing Language Awareness in Subject ClassesDeveloping Language Awareness in Subject Classes.

For more details on language competences for citizenship / democracy, please have a look at the last section of Building block 1 (Language sensitivity in a broader context).

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