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    Gazette 53

European Language Gazette no. 53

December 2020 - January 2021

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Recently published

The European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) of the Council of Europe is pleased to announce the completion and launch of three new resource websites. The three sites (in English and French) represent the most recent outputs from the ECML programme “Languages at the heart of learning” (2016-2019).


“Developing language awareness in subject classes”

This website has been designed for teachers and teacher educators of what are traditionally considered to be “non-linguistic” subjects such as maths, biology, physics or history. The practical resources help teachers to identify the linguistic needs of their learners and to reflect on language-sensitive approaches which can be applied when learning new subject content. Teachers can explore different ways to support their students with writing, speaking, and reading tasks by drawing on students’ first language in their teaching and creating appropriate teaching materials.


“A guide to teacher competences for languages in education”

This comprehensive resource platform has been developed for teacher educators and those responsible for teacher education programmes. It provides an overview of frameworks and descriptions of language teacher competences in various contexts, as well as national and regional standards or guidelines for all teachers working in public education.
A key focus is also to raise users’ awareness of the ways in which initial and in-service teacher education and the resources developed to support it, contribute to the fundamental aims and values of the Council of Europe – i.e. ensuring quality education for all for effective participation in democratic, social cohesive and inclusive societies.



“Language for work – Tools for professional development”

Language for Work adopts a coherent approach to work-related second language development with special attention to the integration of migrants, refugees and ethnic minorities. The website provides professionals working in this field with a dynamic platform for sharing expertise and developing practice as well as a comprehensive set of resources including research and policy material, descriptions of competences for those supporting work-related language learning and examples of practice.


European portfolio for pre-primary educators - The plurilingual and intercultural dimension: now also available in Spanish

This portfolio is designed for educators and teachers in the pre-primary sector, either in initial or in-service training. It encourages personal reflection on the professional skills related to the linguistic and intercultural dimension of working with children.

The ECML would like to express its deepest gratitude to Juana María Blanco Fernández, Associate Professor, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Spain, for this translation.


Upcoming publications in early 2021

Inspiring language learning in the early years – Why it matters and what it looks like for children age 3-12

A roadmap for schools to support the language(s) of schooling

Sign languages and the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

Overview of all programme outputs 2016-2019
Download the brochure


Journal article on the work of the ECML


ICC Journal

Susanna Slivensky, “The European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe (ECML): Preparing for the future”, ICC Journal, Volume 2, Issue 3, Winter 2020, p. 44-46.


European Day of Languages


A very different European Day of Languages 2020

Like all other areas of life, this year’s European Day of Languages was not immune to Covid-19. With goalposts constantly shifting with regard to health and safety regulations, it was a nerve-racking process to try to organise any face-to-face events. Not surprisingly there were many more online activities than in previous years – often with very creative ideas like the Language is great for your health event involving thousands of participants in Denmark. More surprisingly, there were also a lot of highly successful physical events, such as the Sprachenfest in Graz which was carefully organised applying strict social-distancing measures. Indeed, the Day seemed to be as popular as ever in schools all over the continent.

A first this year was the development of a language challenges app for mobile phones (based on the Handbook of language challenges). The app can be used either individually, in groups of children, or with a teacher. Thanks to the support of the EDL National Relays, the app is now available in 20 languages. Flushed with this year’s success, an updated version packed with a range of new features is now planned for EDL 2021.

Other new features offered on the EDL website this year were:

Any fears that the Day of Languages might not attract a great deal of interest this year proved unfounded:

  • The Day received greater press coverage than ever around Europe (and indeed beyond!) – just one example is the ECML Director, Sarah Breslin’s interview with the Spanish national radio station RTVE.
  • The European Commission and its translation offices were involved in organising around 90 events.
  • The Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity (NPLD) provided a series of new language trivia for Basque, Catalan, Frisian and Ladin, and the Chair of the NPLD, who is also the regional Minister responsible for Frisian Language and Culture, made a video to promote the 2021 EDL t-shirt design competition – the competition is still open until 31 December!
  • Romania again recorded the highest number of EDL events (registered in the EDL online calendar) with over 130 and a Romanian secondary school’s event, “New language is a new life” was also voted the 2020 most innovative event. Congratulations on achieving the double!

Despite all the successes, we would nevertheless gladly welcome a return to normality for next year’s European Day of Languages!


“Inspiring innovation in language education: changing contexts, evolving competences”: latest ECML programme developments 2020-23


Webinar “Covid-19 and language education: Two challenges, one response” (3 December 2020): recording available

Members of the Council of Europe’s Standing Committee for Education Policy and Practice and the ECML’s Governing Board have identified public examinations and distance learning as areas of particular concern in language education. The webinar with David little, Trinity College Dublin, discussed these concerns and outlined a possible response based on the CEFR and its Companion Volume. The event was intended for language education decision makers – e.g. those responsible for policy and/or for curricula and assessment.


“Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education”: survey planned on languages, plurilingualism and intercultural proficiency in cross-border working environments

What do teachers, teacher educators, learners, political and economic stakeholders think? In order to learn more about the situation concerning these questions in the different geographical, political, economic and social contexts, a survey will shortly be launched to help to understand the specific needs in the different (border) regions for plurilingual and intercultural education and to develop tailor-made concepts and pedagogical materials.

The project outputs (guidelines, training modules, teacher portfolio) will be compiled in a manual for educators in cross-border environments, working with younger learners in vocational education or with adults in professional education.


METLA – Mediation in teaching, learning and assessment – first year activities, experiences and challenges (2020-2021)

The first year of this two-year project focused on the development of a teaching guide which can help foreign language teachers of primary and secondary education incorporate cross-lingual mediation in their teaching practices. Twenty mediation tasks involving different languages have been prepared and will have been piloted in real classrooms by mid-January 2021. 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.


VITbox project: training materials on the CEFR Companion Volume are under development (2020-23)

In Autumn 2020, the “CEFR Companion Volume implementation toolbox” project team discussed the draft VITbox materials. These materials will be designed to help teacher educators and teacher trainers in initial teacher training and in professional development programmes, as well as in assisting language teachers to implement the ideas of the CEFR Companion Volume. At the end of the project, a Companion Volume Moodle course will offer training activities, sample tasks for teaching and assessment, checklists for training contexts, videos, recorded webinars, and further reading material.


Training and consultancy activities


Pluralistic approaches to languages and cultures in the teaching of French as a foreign language and subject teaching: online workshop for professionals in Romania (14 and 21 November 2020)

The workshop “Pluralistic approaches to languages and cultures in French as a foreign language and non-linguistic subjects in the French classroom” brought together 23 practitioners from Iasi, Romania – university teachers, secondary school teachers of French as a foreign language, subject teachers teaching in French and future teachers of French as a FL. The event highlighted how pluralistic approaches and digital technology can be used as a vector of learning motivation.


"Teacher competences for languages in education": ECML online workshop for teacher trainers in Serbia (online, 4-6 November 2020)

The online event brought together 26 university teachers working in initial teacher education who are also involved in curriculum/syllabus development and adaptation in Serbia. The practitioners had the opportunity to explore the outputs of the ECML project “A guide to teacher competences for languages in education” and to discuss its relevance for teacher education curriculum review in Serbia and throughout Europe.


Successful online workshop for ECML National Authorities (17 November 2020)

The ECML Governing Board, Nominating Authorities and Contact Points met online on 17 November. The focus of the event was on helping member states to become familiar with activities in the new programme 2020-2023 and to consider how to promote, implement and evaluate resources and capacity-building activities from the 2016-2019 programme.


Welcome to the new Chair of the ECML Governing Board!

Claire Extramiana, the representative of France to the ECML Governing Board, was elected Chair of the Board for the term 2021-22. Based at the General Delegation for the French Language and the Languages of France (DGLFLF), she has been involved with the work of the ECML for several years and has previously served as Vice-Chair of the Board. She will take over this function from Ursula Newby on 1 January 2021.

Photo credit: Representation of France to the Council of Europe

Professional Network Forum of the ECML


Forthcoming events

The Professional Network Forum of the ECML is comprised of international associations and institutions that share common values and have overlapping expertise in the field of language education and assessment. Under the auspices of the ECML, the members of the Forum share their know-how and work together on areas of common interest in the service of language education.



Eaquals 30th Anniversary Conference in April 2021

The Eaquals Annual Conference will now take place on 22-24 April 2021, Europa Hotel, Belfast. All information regarding changes can be accessed via the website. If you have any queries about registration, conference proposals, sponsorship or attendance, please get in touch with us at info@eaquals.org.

Eaquals webinar series

The Eaquals webinar series offers monthly online training on a variety of topics within the language teaching sector relevant for language teachers, teacher trainers, academic managers and researchers.


National developments


Austria: recent news of the Austrian Language Competence Centre (ÖSZ)

ÖSZ Newsletter "Sprachnachrichten" 3/ 2020 (available in German)


France: Courriel européen des langues no. 44 just published!

This issue of the newsletter edited by France Éducation International, the National Contact Point of the ECML, focuses on the following topics:

  • a tribute to Francis Goullier: for a social vision of languages;
  • review of the past year at the ECML and presentation of ongoing projects and training activities: e-lang citizen, Recolang, FREPA;
  • interview on language teaching in Norway;
  • selection of editorial and digital resources.

Council of Europe developments


Political Declaration on the education response to COVID-19

The Conference of Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe, organised in the framework of the Greek Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, has endorsed a Political Declaration on the education response to COVID-19. The Declaration is accompanied by a Roadmap for Action on the Council of Europe education response to COVID-19, which shows how the Organisation will adapt its Education programme to assist member states in making the right to education a reality in times of COVID-19.


Council of Europe at the EHEA Ministerial Conference

On 19 November, a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) Ministerial conference was held online for the first time. The Ministers adopted the Rome Communiqué, a statement on academic freedom, principles and guidelines on the social dimension of higher education, and recommendations on learning and teaching. They welcomed San Marino as the 49th EHEA member. The Rome communiqué mentions the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees (EQPR) and the Lisbon Recognition Convention as well as ETINED and the Network of National Correspondents for Qualifications Frameworks, which the Council of Europe chairs. The Council of Europe had a key role in ensuring prominent reference to the fundamental values of higher education in the communiqué.


Higher education: Qualitications Passport for Refugees

The European Qualifications Passport for Refugees was presented at a Forum of experts on migration and refugee policy as a practical way of applying non-discrimination principles and equal treatment so that refugees can continue their studies or find a job relevant in their field. The EQPR was also identified as a way to support the implementation of the UN Global Compact on Refugees.


The CEFR Companion Volume: A key resource for inclusive plurilingual education” (16 December 2020): (Re-)watch the webinar

The videoconference, involving around 600 participants, highlighted the full potential of the CEFR Companion volume in the field of education. The following topics were addressed: CEFR Companion Volume for learning, teaching and assessment; mediation; online communication; plurilingual and pluricultural competence. The recording will soon be available on the dedicated website.


European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

On 24 and 25 November, the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages held its 67th plenary meeting by videoconference. It discussed the impact that new technologies have on minority language education and held a fruitful exchange of views with the Executive Director of the European Centre for Modern Languages.

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is the European convention for the protection and promotion of languages used by traditional minorities. Together with the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities it constitutes the Council of Europe's commitment to the protection of national minorities.


International Conference “Safeguarding our Romani Language”

On 5 November 2020, on the occasion of the World Day of Romani Language, the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) in partnership with the Council of Europe and the University of Graz, Austria, organised the International Conference “Safeguarding our Romani Language”. The event aimed to promote the European Curriculum Framework for Romani, to develop teaching materials based on that Framework, to support initiatives aiming at Romani language re-learning, and to organise trainings for Romani language teachers.The conference was opened by Timea Junghaus, Executive Director of ERIAC, Jeroen Schokkenbroek, Director of Anti-Discrimination of the Council of Europe, and Dieter Halwachs from Graz University.


News from other organisations


European Commission

Education begins with language – Thematic report from a programme of seminars with peer learning (2019-2020) – including an interview with Sarah Breslin, the ECML Executive Director.

Summary: English - French - German

Mercator - European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning

Newsletter: Issue no. 166 (November 2020) – Issue no. 167 (December 2020)


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