The CEFR adopts a plurilingual vision giving value to cultural and linguistic diversity. Being “plurilingual” does not necessarily mean having balanced and high developed competences in multiple languages, but rather being able to integrate various repertoires and draw on them, for different communicative purposes. The development of learners’ plurilingual competence is of paramount importance according to the CEFR. This project sees cross-linguistic mediation as part of someone’s plurilingual competence. It follows that plurilingual competence entails a creative movement across languages, of passing on information and constructing new meanings and involves the interplay among languages.
As Piccardo (2016) puts it, the (plurilingual) mediator engages in tasks that require his/her agency in strategically employing all resources available to accomplish a mission.
The CEFR (2001: 87-88) defines mediation as a process where “the language user is not concerned to express his/her own meanings, but simply to act as an intermediary between interlocutors who are unable to understand each other directly –normally (but not exclusively) speakers of different languages.” However, unlike with the other communicative abilities of reception, production and interaction, for which extensive illustrative descriptors (or can-do statements) were produced, no such sets of descriptors relevant to mediation were included in the original CEFR document. As a result, the concept of mediation was not developed to its full potential. And this is exactly the reason why the CEFR Companion Volume was published two decades later.
In the CEFR Companion Volume, the definition of mediation was expanded and descriptors for mediation were added in order to help teachers and stakeholders incorporate mediation in their courses, syllabuses and materials. The focus is on processes like passing on information in an appropriate form, and simplifying, elaborating, illustrating or otherwise adapting input in order to facilitate understanding. In the CEFR Companion Volume, the concept of mediation, as part of somebody’s plurilingual competence, focuses on three main categories for which various scales have been provided.
The three categories are the following:
a) mediating a text,
b) mediating concepts and
c) mediating communication.