Presentation of the METLA project at the Symposium of the Finnish Association of Applied Linguistics (AFinLA) (Helsinki, Finland, 27-29 October 2022)
The METLA team (Dr Maria Stathopoulou Magdalini Liontou, Phyllisienne Gauci and Silvia Melo-Pfeifer) presented the topic "Embracing the "multi-" in language assessment through cross-linguistic mediation: the METLA project" at the yearly Symposium of the Finnish Association of Applied Linguistics (AFinLA) (27-29 October 2022) in Helsinki.
AFinLA 2022: abstracts, p. 127:
“Maria Stathopoulou, Magdalini Liontou, Phyllisienne Gauci & Sílvia Melo-Pfeifer: Embracing the “multi-” in language assessment through cross-linguistic mediation: the METLA project.
Despite growing interest and renewed calls to embrace a move towards multilingualism in education, particularly in developing and implementing plurilingual pedagogies, a pervasive monolingual mindset can still be seen in language assessment. In this presentation, we discuss how we can promote a more inclusive approach to language assessment since the environment in which our learners live and thrive is “multi-”, e.g. multilingual, multicultural and multimodal. We suggest that this can be achieved by introducing crosslinguistic mediation in the language classroom. According to the CEFR-CV, “in (cross-linguistic) mediation, the user/learner acts as a social agent who creates bridges and helps to construct or convey meaning (…) from one language to another” (Council of Europe, 2020, p. 90) and by doing so, they promote social inclusion and enhance participation initially in the language classroom and then beyond. Notably, we present the role of cross-linguistic mediation in language assessment and the key considerations for evaluating it. We also provide illustrative examples from the Mediation in Teaching, Learning and Assessment (METLA) project carried out within the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML). Particularly, in the METLA project, we focus on formative assessment tasks in which we promote the use of different languages. The aim is twofold for the learners: to evaluate their performance of cross-linguistic mediation and, through reflection, to develop their mediation skills.
Council of Europe (2020). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment Companion volume with new descriptors. Council of Europe. https://rm.coe.int/commoneuropean-framework-of-reference-for-languages-learning-teaching/16809ea0d4.”
#metla #mediationskills #crosslinguisticmediation #ecmlproject #multilingualism #foreignlanguages #education #educationmatters #AfinLA
The METLA Project: Overcoming challenges… and hopes for the future
If we were to say a few words about the biggest challenge of this project which started in 2020, the year of Covid-19 and of restrictions, we would mention the unexpected distance between team members. As a matter of fact, throughout the entire duration of this project, the team has not physically met once. In spite of it all, we were determined to pursue this project, managed remotely to build strong relationships between us team members and adapted well to this new reality. 2020 was the year of the Teaching Guide which provides suggestions, ideas and tips on how cross-linguistic mediation can be taught. The METLA Teaching Guide is the result of a comprehensive process of drafting, evaluation, piloting and consultation.
2021 was mainly the year of the development of the Databank with mediation tasks combining a range of languages (e.g. Croatian, Danish, English, Estonian, Finnish French, German, Greek, Irish, Italian, Maltese, Polish, Spanish, Swedish, among others). Also, during its second year, the METLA project was presented at numerous online conferences, symposia and seminars organised by different organisations and professional associations (EDiLiC, Associação Portuguesa de Professores de Francês, Lithuanian Association of English Language Teachers, Education and Teacher Training Agencyin Croatia), as well as universities (the University of Education, Heidelberg in Germany, the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, the Centre of Excellence for Multilingualism and Language Policy at the University of Athens in Greece, and Tampere University and University of Jyväskylä both in Finland among others). 2021 was also the year of our workshop, the first online workshop organised by the ECML! Participants were familiarised with the aims and objectives of the project, were presented with its key notions, were given examples of mediation tasks in different languages, and designed their own cross-linguistic mediation tasks which were then further expanded by the METLA team. We would like to thank all those who participated in our workshop and shared their reactions on our outputs with us. Finally, we are indebted for their cooperation and dedication to the many teachers, teacher educators and translators who piloted, evaluated and provided us with multiple versions of our educational material.
We started with a challenge and want to finish with our hopes! Let’s hope that our materials will be useful in inspiring teachers to integrate mediation in their teaching practices. That the METLA outputs will foster the integration and dissemination of cross-linguistic mediation on a broader European level, by providing teachers with an array of examples which should not be seen as models, but as an inspiration for the creation of their own contextualised tasks based on their respective teaching contexts, pedagogical goals and students.
We feel honoured and privileged for the opportunity to contribute to (a more) pluricultural and plurilingual education through the METLA project.
The METLA team
Maria Stathopoulou, Magdalini Liontou, Phyllisienne Vassallo Gauci and Silvia Melo-Pfeifer
MultiLEAP Webinar – Languages Across Borders, Within the classroom: Mediation in Teaching, Learning and Assessment (7 October at 13.30-15.00)
Welcome to MultiLEAP Webinar on 7.10. at 13.30-15.00!
Please share this invitation within your networks! Students are also welcome!
- What: MultiLEAP Webinar – Languages Across Borders, Within the classroom: Mediation in Teaching, Learning and Assessment (ME.T.L.A.)
- When: Thursday 7th of October 2021, at 13.30–15.00
- Where: http://r.jyu.fi/multileap-07-10-21
Welcome to hear an interesting presentation about the concept of cross-linguistic mediation in the foreign language classroom. More than in the past, language teachers have to integrate language resources of multiple kinds. This project draws upon inclusive and pluralistic approaches to education – main priorities of the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) - where the development of linguistic and intercultural competences play a key role. Our guests represent the ECML project “Mediation in Teaching, Learning and Assessment” (ME.T.L.A.). The goal of the ME.T.L.A. project is to create a hands-on Teaching Guide on cross-linguistic mediation for primary and secondary language teachers and a digital database which will contain activities and tasks to be used in different educational environments.
Welcome and introduction
- What is cross-linguistic mediation?
- Cross-linguistic mediation in the ME.T.L.A project
- Examples of cross-linguistic mediation activities in the classroom
- Closing of the webinar
Dr Maria Stathopoulou is an Adjunct Lecturer at the Hellenic Open University and at the National Technical University of Athens. Since 2007, she has been a Research Fellow at the RCeL, University of Athens and a member of the English team preparing the national exams for the Greek State Certificate of Foreign Language Competence (known as KPG exams).
From 2014-2017, she was a member of the authoring group of experts of the Council of Europe concerning the update of the CEFR. Recently (2020-2021), her project “Mediation in Τeaching, Learning and Assessment” (ME.T.L.A.) is being funded by the European Centre of Modern Languages (ECML) of the Council of Europe (2020-2023). Dr Stathopoulou’s book “Cross-Language Mediation in Foreign Language Teaching and Testing” (2015) has been published by Multilingual Matters. Her second book concerns the teaching of ESP in academic contexts.
Magdalini Liontou works as an ESP university teacher at the Languages and Communication, University of Oulu and she is a PhD researcher focusing on language assessment at the University of Jyväskylä. She is interested in the cultural perspective of assessment, language mediation and inclusive pedagogy. She has also co-authored the book “Scientific Communication in English” for an ESP course taught at Nanjing Institute of Technology (China). Currently, she is the communication member in the “Mediation in Teaching, Learning and Assessment” (ME.T.L.A.) project at the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) regarding cross-linguistic mediation.
Looking forward seeing you on Thursday 7 October at 13.30 am!
Save the date already for the next MultiLEAP Webinar: Friday October 29 at 10.00!
The aim of MultiLEAP is to strengthen multidisciplinary research, collaborate within the faculties and enhance professional development of staff. MultiLEAP focuses on the wide array of skills, or multiliteracies, needed across the lifespan in the 21st century in working life, education, and home. The core themes of MultiLEAP are participation, access, equity, agency, and well-being. MultiLEAP supports research, for example, by organising thematic events and by providing funding.
Read more: jyu.fi/multileap
Do you want to organise a MultiLEAP Webinar as a guest host? Send an email to email@example.com
The METLA Project: first year activities, experiences and challenges
What has the project achieved this year?
During the first year of this two-year project, the METLA team focused on the development of the Teaching Guide which can help teachers incorporate cross-lingual mediation in their teaching practices and classrooms. The METLA team has worked hard in order to:
a) design a set of cross-linguistic mediation tasks on the basis of a specially designed template;
b) collect material for these mediation tasks (texts, photographs, videos, audios etc.);
c) develop tools for the evaluation of the tasks by experts and teachers/practitioners; and
d) find potential educators who would like to pilot the cross-linguistic tasks.
What activities and events were carried out?
Three big events took place (2 expert meetings and 1 network meeting) while a series of informal expert online meetings (6 in total) during this first year helped the team to develop bonds and learn how to work together. As a result of a fruitful collaboration, the team has already prepared 20 mediation tasks involving different languages (English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Maltese, Portuguese, and Spanish, among others). By mid-January 2021, METLA tasks will have been piloted in real classrooms and some additional versions of tasks including more languages will also be produced. These tasks will accompany the Teaching Guide and add to it a very important practical dimension. The team has also participated in numerous online teacher training events and conferences around Europe in order to present the project and disseminate this work. Many teachers around Europe are now willing to participate in our future activities!
What were the challenges?
A big challenge is working on such a demanding project with team members from different countries without having physically met once. The team managed to build strong relationships and adapted very well given the trying circumstances we all face, both personally and academically. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dissemination of the information has also been challenging, since some of the conferences we targeted had our abstracts accepted, but then had to be postponed. Piloting the activities has also been a challenge since most of the teachers have started teaching online and they find that learning about this mode of teaching has taken most of their preparation time.
How did target audience react?
On a positive note, we feel that those challenges have made us work harder and focus on maximizing our productivity. We are a highly motivated team and we strongly believe in this project. The collaboration between the team members and several stakeholders has added a multifaceted aspect to this project and we feel privileged to be able to conduct this work. The excellent reception of the project among the target audience was beyond our expectations and this further encourages us to look forward to the coming year with enthusiasm and optimism.
Maria Stathopoulou, project coordinator
"Mediation in teaching, learning and assessment": The METLA project ... on its way
This ECML project "Mediation in teaching, learning and assessment" sets out to develop a teaching guide for foreign language teachers of primary and secondary education who want to include cross-lingual mediation in their classrooms. Teachers will gain awareness of how to develop tasks which will incorporate more than one language (e.g. foreign language + mother tongue + other languages). These mediation tasks will aim not only at making learners competent in using the target language, but they will also raise learners’ awareness of the importance of language alternation.
Moving away from the traditional way of teaching and learning, this guide suggests a plurilingual approach to the teaching of languages. Specifically, it will contain information about the theory and practice of language teaching, learning and assessing mediation together with examples of mediation tasks in different languages. The examples of mediation tasks will draw upon the new descriptors of the Companion Volume of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) (CEFR-CV).
The key points of the METLA Teaching Guide are:
- theory and practice of cross-linguistic mediation for the development of plurilingual competence;
- the CEFR-CV performance descriptors of mediation and how they related to learning and assessment tasks;
- guidelines for the alignment of mediation tasks with CEFR CV descriptors;
- guidelines for designing oral, written and multimodal mediation tasks with examples;
- guidelines for assessing and testing mediation performance.
Cross-lingual mediation activities which ask for the parallel use of languages in the classroom can be used to soften linguistic and cultural barriers. The benefits of such fluid language practices in the foreign language classroom are many, the challenges as well!
Dr Maria Stathopoulou, Coordinator
Mediation in teaching, learning and assessment: A teaching guide for language educators
Mediation is both an old and a new component in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Old, since it was included as a notion when the Framework was first published in 2001 and where it was declared an important ability. However, it was not complemented with descriptive descriptors (can-do statements) compared with other abilities – reception, production and interaction. The term is also considered new because the CEFR Companion Volume with new Mediation Descriptors was published in 2018. This important document becomes useful in softening borders between languages, ideologies, identities and in bridging linguistic gaps. Within this new context, the incorporation of translingual practices in the foreign language curriculum and classroom is essential, and at the same time teachers need to be trained in order to reinforce links between their students’ languages.
Our project, which has just begun, intends to develop a Teaching Guide for foreign language teachers (of primary and secondary education) who want to include linguistic mediation involving different languages in their classrooms. This guide will contain the following information:
- what mediation entails,
- how it can be implemented,
- types of mediation tasks and
- the theory and practice of teaching and assessing mediation.
Examples of mediation tasks for all proficiency levels combining different languages will also be included. The second output of this project will be the production of a digital Repository, a database, which will include mediation tasks for various educational environments, as well as digital materials and further references relevant to mediation.
This project draws upon pluralistic approaches to education where the development of interlinguistic and intercultural competences plays a key role. Its ultimate aim is to help teachers gain knowledge on how to develop and assess their students’ mediation skills. The challenge for teachers will be to embrace and creatively exploit the resources produced as a result of this project!
Dr Maria Stathopoulou, project coordinator
Feel free to follow the project developments on the dedicated ECML website which is available in English and French: www.ecml.at/mediation.
"Mediation in teaching, learning and assessement" is one of the 9 new projects of the ECML's programme "Inspiring innovation in language education: changing contexts, evolving competences" (2020-2023).