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    Language teacher competences

Language teacher competences

The provision of quality language education depends, to a large extent, on the quality of language teacher education, both initial and in-service. This focus on teacher education and the ongoing need to review, enhance and expand language teacher competences in response to our complex and ever-changing society, lies at the heart of ECML activities.


What does it mean to be a language teacher in today’s Europe? What contribution can language teachers make to the development of intercultural dialogue, so important in today’s increasingly linguistically and culturally diverse society? How have major societal changes such as increased migration, mobility, ICT, the focus on lifelong learning or the development of qualification frameworks impacted on the role of the language teacher? 

These developments have taken language education beyond the traditional confines of the foreign language classroom into the teaching and learning of the languages of schooling, the learning of regional, minority and migrants’ languages – contexts which to-date have remained largely unexplored. These new contexts, together with a general trend to introduce additional languages in early primary or even in pre-school, bring a whole new meaning to the term “language teacher”. Moreover, with languages now considered as transversal skills, key to the learning of all subjects, there is a growing awareness of the need to develop competences in subject teachers so that they too are equipped to provide maximum support for the linguistic development of their learners.

The added value of the ECML lies in the centre’s ability to support teacher education and to develop networks/communities of educational practice through which the centre’s pioneering work can be disseminated and implemented, not only in relation to initial teacher education but also in the context of continued professional development for both newly qualified and experienced teachers.

How the work of the ECML contributes to the development of language teacher competences 

Some of the ECML’s most influential project outputs are concerned with the content and practice of teacher education, and these are influencing the curricula of pre-service training and in-service professional development in many countries:

EPOSTL – European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages

The European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages is a tool for reflection and self-assessment of the didactic knowledge and skills necessary to teach languages. It builds on insights from the Common European Framework of Reference and the European Language Portfolio as well as the European Profile for Language Teacher Education. It has been translated into 15 different languages. The accompanying book entitled Using the European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages presents examples, discussions and research findings of how the EPOSTL is used in initial teacher education courses, in bi-lateral teacher-education programmes and in teaching practice. 

FREPA – A Framework of Reference for Pluralistic Approaches

The FREPA project (A Framework of Reference for Pluralistic Approaches to Languages and Cultures) provides a comprehensive description of the knowledge, attitudes and skills which constitute plurilingual and pluricultural competences. 

Maledive – Teaching the language of schooling in the context of diversity

The study materials focus on teacher education for the language of schooling (e.g. French in France, Polish in Poland). That draws on the linguistic and cultural diversity in the classroom for the benefit of all learners.

TrainEd – Training teacher educators

This book and CD-Rom provide a practical guide for those who are beginners in the field of teacher education The book covers the skills trainers need – planning courses, presentations, mentoring, observations, facilitation etc. – and the CD-ROM contains some 60 worksheets and reflection activities, together with PowerPoint presentations that can be used in training activities.


4 items found for "Show all items"


Nov 2018
Action research communities for language teachers
Expert Meeting
ECML, Graz, Austria


Jan 2019
Towards a Common European Framework of Reference for language teachers
Expert meeting
ECML, Graz, Austria
View details




Promoting excellence in sign language instruction
Expert meeting
ECML, Graz, Austria
View details
May 2019 Promoting excellence in sign language instruction
National Event
ECML, Graz, Austria

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Using the European portfolio for student teachers of languages

by David Newby

European portfolio for pre-primary educators 

in French by Francis Goullier