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    Member state priorities

ECML 6th medium-term programme 2020-2023
Inspiring innovation in language education: changing contexts, evolving competences

Overview - Member state piority - Priority areas - How to apply - Promote the Call - Key considerations

Member state priorities

The table below attempts to group related priorities, provide possible examples of project topics and then align these to ECML thematic areas where existing resources can be found, since a number of priorities previously addressed in ECML programmes have reappeared in different guises. This is not to suggest, however, that these groupings are fixed or that each priority must be treated as a stand-alone; transversality and synergy within and across these groupings, combined with pedagogical approaches tailored to the language and context in question, more accurately reflect the interrelated nature of different aspects of language education, and are both inevitable and desirable. To take a few examples: effective and innovative exploitation of digital tools continues to be a challenge for teachers of different languages and sectors with opportunities to develop digital competences required; the maintenance of home languages is a topic that concerns not only teachers (of all subjects and at all stages), but other educational players such as parents or head teachers; given that multilingual classrooms are an everyday reality in many European countries, plural approaches are also needed in the traditional foreign language classroom. 

Context and Rationale

With a mission to encourage, promote and develop excellence and innovation in language learning and teaching, the European Centre for Modern Languages, an Enlarged Partial Agreement of the Council of Europe, launched its first series of workshops in 1995 under the theme of “modern language learning in the new Europe”. Subsequent activities and 3 and 4-year programmes followed, with the overarching themes reflecting shifting perspectives and new challenges: “languages for social cohesion”; “empowering language professionals”; “learning through languages: promoting inclusive, plurilingual and intercultural education” and, most recently, “languages at the heart of learning”. Since its inception, the work of the ECML has complemented the extensive activity and developments in the field of language policy undertaken by the Council in Strasbourg. It has widened its remit to include not only foreign languages but also regional/minority languages, the languages of schooling and of migration, placing a strong focus on practice. It has acted as a platform and a meeting place for over fifteen thousand language professionals from across its 33 member states and beyond, to share their expertise through workshops, think tanks, network meetings, colloquia and conferences, resulting in a wealth of resources not only for teachers, teacher educators and curriculum developers but also for learners, parents, and policy-makers. A number of these resources have had considerable influence on approaches to language learning and teaching in Europe. 

ECML resources are organised under thematic areas, as indicated in Figure 1.

2020 marks an important moment in the centre’s history combining as it does, the centre’s 25th anniversary and the launch of its 6th medium-term programme - a moment when the past meets the present and prepares the future. Against a backdrop of rising populism and in a climate where the founding principles of the Council of Europe – democracy, human rights and the rule of law – cannot always be taken for granted, it seems fitting to use this moment in history to pause and reflect on the centre’s rich activities and outputs over the past 25 years. Such a reflection should be a springboard for creativity, for the creation of completely new resources where a gap can be identified, or for consideration of how existing resources might be combined, adapted and rendered fit-for-purpose to address the current challenges, in an era of global accountability and international standards, of unprecedented and rapid change − geopolitical, economic and technical. All of this places pressure on national education systems as they work to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of language learning and teaching in increasingly multilingual and multicultural classrooms. The ECML, with access to internationally renowned experts in language education, with networks across its member states and beyond, with project formats that bring together up to 100 stakeholders, is in a unique position to address these challenges and influence reform processes.

This Call is the result of a process of dialogue and negotiation which began with an online survey in which ECML member states listed their language education priorities and explained why these were of particular importance. What emerged was also a clear recognition that to realise the goal of quality language education, simultaneous action is required at multiple levels: at organisational level, within curricular and assessment reform processes, as part of teacher professional development (both initial and ongoing), at the level of individual teacher competences and attitudes - each level reviewed through a holistic lens which embraces all languages and responds to the diversity of learners and their individual needs. Moreover, this Call takes cognisance of the views expressed by professionals in the field and of developments at the European Commission. It is clearly situated within the context of wider Council of Europe priorities in education, in particular inclusive approaches to education and education for democratic citizenship, where the development of linguistic and intercultural competences plays a key role. 

Priority areas Examples of possible project topics ECML thematic areas – with existing ECML resources
Language professionals as agents of change
  • Beyond competences: the role of values and attitudes in language teacher education
  • Learner-centred processes and strategies (differentiation, individualised learning, learner autonomy)
  • Implementation/facilitation of holistic approaches to language education
  • Developing creativity and critical thinking skills: the role of digital literacy and digital tools (e.g. gamification)
  • Teacher development and pedagogical approaches for language learning in the early years
Language teacher and learner competences

New media

Early language learning

Considering and reconsidering flagship resources of the Council of Europe Evaluation and Assessment
Foreign language learning and teaching in the spotlight
  • Foreign language methodologies for skills development – new challenges in changing contexts
  • The first foreign language as a gateway to other languages
  • The place of pluralistic approaches in the foreign language classroom
  • CLIL methodology refreshed: challenges and opportunities at different educational levels
Plurilingual and intercultural education

CLIL

Bi-/plurilingual education for a new decade
  • Regional and minority languages; Romani
  • Bilingual education in multilingual classrooms
  • The language of schooling for migrant pupils and vulnerable learners: different pedagogical approaches
  • Advances and challenges in pluralistic approaches (translanguaging, culturally responsive pedagogies, language awareness, language-sensitive teaching etc.)
  • Languages across the curriculum: the role of language in knowledge construction
  • Language awareness and the role of mediation

Plurilingual and intercultural education

Languages of schooling
Organising language education
  • Language learning pathways
  • Diversification of languages on offer/successful 2nd and 3rd foreign language/support for home languages
  • Successful transitions across educational stages
  • Curricular reform: Introduction of outcomes-based language curricula/of CLIL/of early language learning: what needs to be considered?
  • Whole-school/Institutional language policies
  • (e)Mobility
Language teacher and learner competences

CLIL

Early language learning

Plurilingual and intercultural learning

View all thematic areas

ECML programme of activities: how we work

ECML activities can broadly be grouped into two categories: development and mediation. As the name suggests, the development strand, usually in the form of projects, focuses on innovation, on the creation of new resources in response to current challenges; the mediation strand, usually in the form of ECML Training and Consultancy, focuses more on the implementation and adaptation of existing ECML resources to different national contexts and on the promotion and dissemination of these resources through conferences, colloquia or webinars. Although this Call refers specifically to the development strand, applicants need to understand how the two strands complement each other. 

The ECML Programme 2020-23 will fund approximately ten projects, depending on the proposed duration and the quality of the submissions. While all project proposals should demonstrate innovation and creativity, they should also take into account previous ECML resources and activities. We will be looking for a mixture of projects: some which focus on creating completely new resources and others which systematically review what has gone before, updating and repackaging these resources in a more efficient manner and complementing them through examples of successful implementation in different national contexts.