It is with great sadness that we have learned of the sudden death of Sauli Takala, former professor at the University of Jyväskylä and world-renowned expert in language testing and assessment.
Sauli was committed to the values of the Council of Europe and was heavily involved in Council of Europe developments in language education over several decades, most recently in the expert group for the development of CEFR additional descriptors.
The ECML is indebted to Sauli: not only was he a member of the evaluation group which recommended that the ECML become a permanent institution of the Council of Europe but he also acted as programme consultant for the evaluation strand of the ECML 2008-11 Programme “Empowering language professionals”. In the run-up to the ECML Colloquium - “Quality in language testing and assessment: the contribution of the CEFR” which took place on December 7th 2016, Sauli provided the secretariat with much valued advice and guidance in shaping the programme for this very successful event.
We would like to express our deepest sympathy to his family and friends; he will be sorely missed.
Anna Zansen, ECML fellow for the project “A quality assurance matrix for CEFR use” remembers Sauli Takala:
My first encounter with Sauli's work was when I was training to become a language teacher in Finland. I then got to know him and his work more personally when I was working on the Digabi project at the Finnish Matriculation Examination Board. Sauli always had the time to answer my questions and he was interested in new projects. At conferences, Sauli often asked the best questions, ones that continued to inspire me long after the events themselves!
I can honestly say that Sauli's work has had a strong impact on my own professional development -- in the classroom, in my research and on my current fellowship at the ECML. I have been deeply affected by his death but am comforted by the conviction that his spirit and work will live on in the field of language education and testing. My condolences to everyone who had the honour to know Sauli.