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    Conference 2019

ECML 25th Anniversary Conference
Languages at the heart of learning: 25 years of inspiring innovation 

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On Thursday 5 and Friday 6 December 2019 the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe organised a high-level conference to celebrate its 25th anniversary (as well as the Council of Europe’s 70th anniversary) and reflect on the important contribution made by the Centre to the field of language education.  The event  also showcased the results of the ECML’s current programme - Languages at the heart of learning - and launched the next programme 2020-23 - Inspiring innovation in language education: changing contexts, evolving competences

The conference combined plenary sessions more focused on key political challenges related to language education (day 1), with break-out sessions where particular aspects of language education were examined in greater detail, including the range of tools and capacity-building activities organised by the Centre to help bridge the gap between policy and practical implementation (day 2).  

Day 1, Thursday 5 December

Day 1 took place at the prestigious Meerscheinschlössl. Through keynote speeches, panel discussions and interactive presentations, the role of quality language education in fostering a culture of democracy was addressed - why it matters and what it looks like. There was a discussion of key policy developments such as the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation on protecting and promoting sign languages in Europe and the Council of the European Union’s Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages, as well as consideration of the ECML’s role as the interface between policy, research, teacher education and practice. 

Day 2, Friday 6 December

On day 2 at the ECML, particpants actively engaged in discussions organised broadly around the ECML’s nine thematic areas with the presentation of key outputs from the current ECML programme, together with insights from the Centre’s range of Training and Consultancy activities.  Four parallel sessions gave participants the opportunity to cover a number of key themes. The day was topped and tailed with plenary sessions on dissemination, adaption and impact, drawing on successful examples from ECML member states. 

A Conference Declaration with the dual aims of highlighting the key contribution of quality language education to democratic societies and acknowledging the challenges that need to be addressed was discussed at the conference, with a final version to be issued in early 2020. As such the Declaration could pave the way for a Council of Europe Recommendation on Quality Language Education. 

The conference closed on a very personal note: the ECML’s long-standing expert consultant, Frank Heyworth, who has been closely involved with the Centre since its inception, recounted his story of how the ECML has evolved and what his engagement has meant to him. He also shared a few of his pearls of wisdom regarding future directions for language policy and practice at the ECML and the wider Council of Europe.

25th Anniversary publication

Changing contexts, evolving competences: 25 years of inspiring innovation in language education

This publication celebrates a momentous stage in the history of the European Centre for Modern Languages: its 25th anniversary. Its central aims are to review and showcase the achievements of the ECML, as reflected in its many projects and publications, and to put its achievements in the context of the broader work of the Council of Europe.

This publication offers a fascinating journey through the world of international language education over a quarter of a century, seen from the perspective of one of its main actors, the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe.

Demographic, political and technological changes in society combined with globalisation have dramatically reshaped the educational landscape in Europe in the past 25 years. As a result, the language-related expectations and challenges within national education systems have significantly evolved.

The publication which focuses on the role and achievements of the ECML in this context, includes contributions from international experts working at the cutting edge of language education as well as testimonials from stakeholders responsible for supporting and implementing innovative approaches to language education around Europe.

View download page

25th ECML anniversary declaration: inviting contributions from all conference participants!

The ECML invites conference participants, including viewers to the livestream to comment on its draft anniversary declaration “QUALITY LANGUAGE EDUCATION FOR A DEMOCRATIC AND SOCIALLY COHESIVE EUROPE: NINE ECML CORNERSTONES”. 

This declaration aims to raise awareness of the political importance of language education and the need for sustained and strengthened support for its professionalisation across Europe.  A summary of the feedback  received at the conference was presented in the plenary session on Friday 6 December

Please contribute to this important initiative and promote the opportunity to provide feedback on the declaration through your networks!

The poll below for feedback will remain open until Tuesday, 7 January 2020.

Dedicated sign languages event

A dedicated sign languages event took place at the Meerscheinschlössl on 6 December. The event considered the implications of the Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation at the levels of policy, teacher education and classroom practice as well as key Council of Europe tools for sign languages: the  CEFR Companion Volume and the ECML ProSign project outputs.

Event report