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Sign languages and the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

Teacher competences
European Language Portfolio
Pro-sign reference
About the CEFR


European Language Portfolio (ELP)

A document in three parts (Language Passport, Language Biography and Language Dossier) in which an individual may voluntarily record his or her linguistic achievements (including intercultural competence) to date. It has both a ‘reporting’ and a ‘pedagogic’ function, which is to say that it provides not only evidence of achievement, but also key information about the learning characteristics and preferred learning style of the user. 
(Source: https://archive.ecml.at/mtp2/ELP_TT/ELP_TT_CDROM/DM_layout/Glossary/Glossary_E.pdf)

Language Passport

The Language Passport is the initial section of the ELP provides an overview of the individual’s proficiency in different languages at a given point in time. It is the key record of current proficiency and qualifications, related wherever possible to levels of the CEFR. 
(Adapted from: https://archive.ecml.at/mtp2/ELP_TT/ELP_TT_CDROM/DM_layout/Glossary/Glossary_E.pdf)

Language Biography

The Language Biography is the second section of the ELP. It facilitates the learner’s involvement in planning, reflecting upon and assessing his or her learning process and progress. It provides scope for recording at greater length than in the Language Passport various experiences that have been influential in the user’s learning, both in the formal learning of languages and in unstructured and informal encounters with foreign languages and cultures. (Adapted from https://archive.ecml.at/mtp2/ELP_TT/ELP_TT_CDROM/DM_layout/Glossary/Glossary_E.pdf)


A collection of samples or examples of language use either in a real (e.g. work) or simulated (e.g. classroom) context. 
(Source: https://archive.ecml.at/mtp2/ELP_TT/ELP_TT_CDROM/DM_layout/Glossary/Glossary_E.pdf)

Language mediation

In the field of language use ‘mediation’ has come to mean how someone assists people to communicate effectively with one another when they sign or speak different languages, do not understand certain terms or concepts, or when they are dealing with situations or ideas that are new to them. (Adapted from: https://www.coe.int/en/web/lang-migrants/linguistic-and-cultural-mediation )


First language known and signed/spoken/written by a person. 
(Adapted from: https://archive.ecml.at/mtp2/ELP_TT/ELP_TT_CDROM/DM_layout/Glossary/Glossary_E.pdf)


Second language known and signed/spoken/written by a person. 
(Adapted from: https://archive.ecml.at/mtp2/ELP_TT/ELP_TT_CDROM/DM_layout/Glossary/Glossary_E.pdf)

L3 / Lx 

Third and/or further foreign language which is not identical with the L2. The L2 and the experience of learning a first ‘foreign’ language seems to play a specific role in a learner's language repertoire in being a kind of model for subsequent ‘foreign’ language learning. Plurilingual individuals tend to have varying degrees of competencies in their various ‘foreign’ languages so that there is justification for labelling the languages differently and not all as "L2". 
(Adapted from: https://archive.ecml.at/mtp2/ELP_TT/ELP_TT_CDROM/DM_layout/Glossary/Glossary_E.pdf)


Some researchers adopt the term ‘M1/L2 signers’ for individuals who are learning a second sign language versus ‘M2/L2 (second modality second language) signers’ for those who are learning their first sign language. In addition to standard L2 effects, this second group might be subject to additional effects of learning language in a new modality. (Chen Pichler 2012: 676).


The sum of knowledge, skills and characteristics that allow a person to perform actions. 
Grammatical competence = knowledge of/and ability to use the grammatical resources of a language. 
Language competence = a combination of: 
Linguistic competence: includes lexical, phonological, syntactical knowledge and skills and other dimensions of language as a system. 
Sociolinguistic competence: refers to the sociocultural conditions of language use 
Pragmatic competence: concerned with the functional use of linguistic resources, the mastery of discourse, cohesion, coherence, the identification of text types and forms, and such intentional devices as irony and parody. 
(Source: https://archive.ecml.at/mtp2/ELP_TT/ELP_TT_CDROM/DM_layout/Glossary/Glossary_E.pdf)

Ability to Learn 

The ability to observe and participate in new experiences and to incorporate new knowledge into existing knowledge, modifying the latter where necessary. It may involve varying degrees and combinations of aspects of social and communicative competence and linguistic knowledge. 
(Source: https://archive.ecml.at/mtp2/ELP_TT/ELP_TT_CDROM/DM_layout/Glossary/Glossary_E.pdf)

Declarative Knowledge

Declarative knowledge is the awareness and understanding of factual information about the world. Such information must be true; the person must believe it to be true, and the person must be in a position to know it. Typical items of declarative knowledge might include: that A is the first letter of the Roman alphabet, that Liisa Kauppinen was formerly the President of the World Federation of the Deaf, and that there is an organisation called the European Network of Sign Language Teachers (ENSLT). (Adapted from https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095705926)

Learner Autonomy 

For IS version, see: https://www.ecml.at/ECML-Programme/Programme2012-2015/ProSign/Glossary/tabid/1767/language/fr-FR/Default.aspx

The ability to take charge of one’s own learning (Holec, 1981). Expanding on this definition, David Little (1991) states that learner autonomy includes a ‘capacity for detachment, critical reflection, decision-making and independent action’.
(ECML (ed.) (2011) “EFCT Terminology”, in: http://clil-cd.ecml.at/ProjectDescription/Glossary/tabid/948/language/en-GB/Default.aspx [26.3.2015])

Is the capacity learners have to take charge of their own learning. This implies choice of aims, content, approaches and/or forms of evaluation based on reflection related to individual needs and interests. (Glossary – ECML programme 2008-2011 “Empowering language professionals”, in: https://www.ecml.at/Portals/1/20140130_Glossary_ECML%20MTP3_EmpoweringLanguageProfessionals_with%20index_FINAL.pdf [24.3.2015])

Identification of Personal Learning Needs (and Self-Assessment)

One of the on-going processes throughout ELP use is the self-assessment of work and progress in learning, and recording this on a chronological basis. It is important to remember that self-assessment is valid both as a form of assessment and as an instrument of learning. With the support of teachers, learners can develop their skills of self-assessment and will become increasingly aware of learning demands, personal learning styles and how they may achieve success. 

All ELP pages prompt learners to think, assess and record. The support of teachers is essential in the early stages of a language course but over time learners become empowered to carry out these procedures themselves. The ability to self-assess is a key transferable skill and, as such, will support learners far beyond the language class. (Lazenby Simpson 2012 :32) (See: https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=09000016802fc1c7)