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    Young children's language learning pathways
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    documentation

Young children’s language learning pathways

What documentation is about and why it is important

Documenting is the systematic recording of a child’s learning and development. Documenting the different language learning pathways of the child will involve different elements, sources, and modalities. This might include visual and audio documents: pictures, drawings, photos, recordings, worksheets, and notes. Children should play an active role in the process of documenting, including being given the opportunity to reflect on what has been included, who it is shared with, and decide on what is included. This will allow children to reflect on their own learning process and progress. The documentation can take a variety of different formats and needs to consider the (development) needs of the child and align with the teaching and learning practices of the teacher or educator, as well as the framework of the class, school, and education system. 

The role of documentation in making language learning pathways visible in the education system

  • Documentation provides an ongoing record of the child’s progress and development that can accompany the child throughout their learning journey
  • Supports the child in reflecting on their language learning, including the skills and competences gained
  • Allows for the next steps to be identified by the teacher / educator in collaboration with the child.

Tools for documenting language learning pathways

Tools can involve formal or informal documents or files which provide an indication of which competences the children have achieved and identify the next steps on their (language) learning journey. Some of these will be part of the day-to-day learning and teaching process, especially where these relate to the language of schooling or additional languages taught within the education system. Tools may be formal, or more informal – either can be used as part of the reporting and assessment process.

Documentation toolbox

In this section you can find a range of resources and tools for observation which can be used to make a variety of language learning pathways visible in the education system. 

Please click on the tools for details

European language portfolio
Language(s) Multiple languages
Description The European Language Portfolio (ELP) is a personal document for learners of all ages to record their learning and cultural experiences both within and outside formal education. It provides guidance as well as a framework for learners to assess their own learning.
Using the tool The ELP can be adapted to different contexts and language learning situations – and for different ages of learners. An ELP is most effective when it is taking account of the learning objectives set out in curricular guidelines. Learners who use an ELP can document all their language and cultural experiences.
Portfolios for young learners that can be adapted and used in different contexts. Examples from ...
United Kingdom
The junior version of the European Language Portfolio provides pupils with a record of their achievements and progress in languages. The second edition of this portfolio was accredited in 2006 by the Council of Europe. The Junior ELP is a way to celebrate language learning and intercultural experiences. It offers an open-ended record of children’s achievements in languages addressed. It is the property of the learner and a valuable source of information to aid transfer and transition of language competences of learners.
United Kingdom
This version of the European Language Portfolio was developed by Integrate Ireland Language and Training for use in Irish post-primary schools with non-English speaking students who are learning the language of the host community. The self-assessment grid of the Common European Framework of Reference summarises six levels of second/foreign language proficiency, from beginner to very advanced. Language support provided to non-English speaking students in post-primary education in Ireland is concerned with the first three levels (A1, A2 and B1). This ELP was designed to reflect the English language demands of the Irish Post-Primary Curriculum (2000).
Greece
This model of the European Language Portfolio for use in Greek primary schools is designed to facilitate and encourage language learning among pupils, and provide an interactive tool for teachers of foreign languages.
Poland
European Language Portfolio for children from 6 to 10 years old
Mój paszport językowy dla dzieci od 6 do 10 lat
Moje dossier dla dzieci od 6 do 10 lat
Ireland
This version of the European Language Portfolio was developed by Integrate Ireland Language and Training for use in Irish primary schools with non-English speaking pupils who are learning the language of the host community. The self-assessment grid of the Common European Framework of Reference summarises six levels of second/foreign language proficiency, from beginner to very advanced. Language support provided to non-English speaking pupils in primary education in Ireland is concerned with the first three levels (A1, A2 and B1). This ELP was designed to reflect the English language demands of the Irish Primary Curriculum (2000). The graded curriculum for language support is set out in the English Language Proficiency Benchmarks for Non-English Speaking Pupils at Primary Level (2003).
Norway
The European Language Portfolio 6-12 is specially adapted to primary school pupils in Norwegian schools, and can help to ensure that each student learns according to his or her own individual needs. The portfolio is not a textbook, but a tool to assist in language learning. It contains no assessments and is not intended to measure performance. The portfolio belongs completely to the individual student. In order to arouse interest in other languages and cultures, the language portfolio encourages students to evaluate their own work and set new goals. The portfolio is focused on promoting a reflective approach and the development of learning strategies, which are essential for lifelong learning of languages. For the teacher the language portfolio can provide lesson ideas and be a good tool for planning and ongoing assessment, and can also be an encouragement to make classroom teaching more practical. The portfolio may also make it easier to focus on each student's individual needs.
Slovenia
The European Language Portfolio for Adults has been developed according to the common guidelines of the European Language Portfolio pilot project of the Council of Europe. It is a document which brings the common goals of the Council of Europe in the field of modern languages into practice. It aims to: - promote dialogue among European citizens; - promote cultural diversity; - promote multilingualism; - promote plurilingualism as a lifelong process; - develop skills for lifelong language learning.
Sweden
The European Language Portfolio for learners aged 6 to 11 was developed for use in Swedish primary schools by an expert group on behalf of the National Agency for Schools, a department of the Swedish Ministry of Education and Science.
Turkey
This model of the European Language Portfolio was developed by the Bilfen Schools, a private educational provider with a well established tradition of excellence in education located in Istanbul. It aims to support students in primary and lower secondary education who are engaged in intensive study in foreign languages.
Latvia
The European Language Portfolio for young learners (age 7–12) has been designed for use in Latvian primary schools by a project group of the Latvian Association of English Language Teachers (LATE) with the support of the State Language Agency. A Companion Volume to the European Language Portfolio for young learners has also been developed in the form of an English version of the Language Biography, so that those students who cannot read Latvian will nevertheless be able to gauge their progress in language learning. Also teachers in other countries who know English will be able to use it to assess the language learning progress of their students from Latvia.
Austria
The European Language Portfolio (ELP) is a tool created by the Council of Europe for language learners in order to help them to assess and document their knowledge on their own. The Vienna Board of Education, the Vienna Pedagogic Institute and the Association of National Education, together with organisations from neighbouring countries, were involved in creating a European Language Portfolio for the Central-European Region that is intended to cross between regions and levels and point out and document language ability as well as social and cross-cultural experiences of learners in the Centrope Region. Included in this project are primary level (6 to 10 year olds), secondary level I (10 to 15 year olds), secondary level II (16 to 19 year olds) and adult education. The model for primary learners aged 6 to 10 was developed by the Stadtschulrat Wien as part of the EU-funded project EdTwin.
The Netherlands
This model of the European Language Portfolio for use in primary schools in the Netherlands has now been superseded by the web-based portfolio model 89.2007 - see the dedicated website for more information (in English and Dutch only). For pupils in primary education the European Language Portfolio has the same structure as that for other types of schools. Therefore when a pupil changes to secondary education, by simply changing 'profile' all the information in the portfolio will be transferred. The ELP for primary education is different from that of the other school types. Its design has been made more attractive, with more colours, pictures and easier language. The can-do statements are illustrated by clear examples provided with extra explanations. This is more suitable for the target group. Under language progress, only two levels have been included for the five language skills: A1 and A2. Pupils at a primary school will normally not achieve levels beyond A2. If, in some individual cases, for instance immigrants, this happens the profile for secondary education can be used. The ELP for primary education can be used for foreign language education at all primary schools. It can be especially helpful in cases of intensive foreign language teaching, for example in dual language situations or early foreign language teaching.
Armenia
This model of the European Language Portfolio for use in Armenian primary schools was developed by a team of experts at the Yerevan State Linguistic University after V.Brusov, on behalf of the Armenian Ministry of Education and Science.

PORTFOLIOS 
Containing written work, drawings, recordings and projects. Children should be encouraged to contribute and reflect on the entries. Portfolios are most effective when used over a long period of time to track progress & development.
ANECDOTAL RECORDS  
These might be from observations or activities and can provide a valuable insight into individual learning progress.                         This might include work samples and also audio or video recordings. Using anecdotal records is most effective when comparing earlier and more recent work.

They are used to assess specific langauge skills or competences. These can act as objective evaluations in specific areas such as vocabulary acquisition, use of grammar, reading comprehension or oral communication. Checklists are most effective when used with clear criteria and descriptors to allow for objective evaluation.
CHECKLISTS
These are carried out to evaluate language proficiency and progress against learning criteria, as outlined in curricular guidelines. Assessments are most effective when they align with learning objectives and used to provide clear feedback.
DOCUMENTATION OF (PREVIOUS) FORMATIVE AND SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENTS AND TESTS

Reflective activity: Documentation to make language learning pathways visible in the classroom

Prior to documentation:

  • What will I be documenting? Will the focus be on any skill or competence, or progress against a set of criteria or curricular guidelines or the holistic development of the child?
  • Why am I documenting this information?
  • Who is this documentation for? Will it be used within the education system, or is it for children or their parents?

During documentation:

  • How can I provide an accurate record of the child's language learning journey?
  • What am I documenting and what will it tell me, the child, and the parents? What skills? What competences?
  • What is the progress the child has made against set criteria and curricular guidelines?
  • Why am I documenting? What am I going to do with the documentation? Is it intended as
    • a record of progress only?
    • a tool to plan teaching and learning opportunities?

After documentation:

  • How can this record be used to support the child's next steps on their language learning journey?
  • Who else can contribute to this record and how: the child, other educational professionals, and the parents?