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The future of language education in the light of Covid
Lessons learned and ways forward

The initiative explores how the ongoing Covid pandemic has affected language education, and looks at ways in which the skills and insights gained may bring about beneficial lasting changes in the teaching and learning of languages.

Colloquium December 14th, 2021, 9:30 - 17:15 (CET)

An initiative of the Professional Network Forum

The colloquium set out to address the following questions:
  • What insights have been gained from using radically different modes of language education during the Covid pandemic – remote, hybrid, socially distanced?
  • How can the challenges of examinations and assessment be overcome?
  • What innovative kinds of support for learners and teachers have been developed?
  • What specific challenges have arisen in relation to ensuring inclusive language education for all?
  • Do we need a new kind of “educational literacy”?
Over the last eighteen months, the ECML’s Professional Network Forum has led an initiative focusing on the impact of the pandemic on language education. Co-funded as part of the ECML-EC Cooperation Agreement, this series of activities began with a Europe-wide survey on language teachers’ experiences during Covid and on lessons learned. 

The colloquium looked back in order to move forward: reporting on the results of the survey which attracted over 1750 responses and on the activities which have followed it. These include two online think tanks, case studies by teachers, and a draft guide for language educators on how to cope with the kind of challenges caused by the pandemic.

Drawing also on related ECML-EC Training and consultancy activities in the areas of assessment and multilingual classrooms, and on responses to Covid developed by the European Commission and by the OECD, it also considered how this wealth of experience and knowledge might impact on future ECML programmes and act as a springboard for shaping a promising future for language education in Europe at the levels of policy, teacher education and classroom practice. 

The colloquium particularly focused  on all those working in the field of language education: decision-makers, curriculum developers, teacher educators and classroom teachers.  

Survey findings

Download findings

Powerpoint presentation

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Download in English or French

The colloquium on "The future of language education in the light of Covid – lessons learned and ways forward" is organised by the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe in cooperation with the European Commission. 

Working languages: English and French


(morning sessions)

Welcome and opening remarks

Sarah Breslin
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The impact of Covid on language education 

Key findings from the Europe-wide PNF-ECML survey; introducing the key themes
Peter Brown
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“Teachers’ voices” – short video messages from teachers

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From a survey to a guide

How can the initiative support teachers?
The results of two think tanks, plans for a guide for teachers and illustrative case studies
Frank Heyworth
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Mentimenter results Effects of Covid on language education

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Challenges and advantages of different modes of education; adapting resources and methods to a new environment

Bernd Rüschoff
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A teacher's case study - teaching Chinese during lockdown

Francesco Imparato
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The European Commission's response to Covid in the field of education

Oana Felecan
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Reflections on learner inclusion and identity - Supporting Multilingual Classrooms

Terry Lamb / Brigitte Gerber
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(afternoon sessions)

The role of curricular alignment; validity and reliability of (alternative) assessment formats

David Little / José Noijons
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PISA's response to COVID in the field of education

Calalina Covacevich
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Changing contexts, evolving competences - time for a new "educational literacy"?

Bernd Rüschoff, Peter Brown
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Mentimeter Evolving competences in language learning

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Expert panel - where to from here?

Pille Põiklik, Francesco Imparato, Tue Halgreen, Kristina Cunningham, Frank Heyworth and Sarah Breslin

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The way ahead - what lessons can be drawn for the next four-year programme?
Susanna Slivensky
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Closing remarks

Final words from the ECML
Sarah Breslin
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