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European Language Portfolio

► The European Language Portfolio: an impact study (2009)

The European Language Portfolio: an impact study (2009)

Executive summary

At its 17th meeting in Strasbourg, 3-4 June 2008 and in the context of its discussions on the future of the ELP, the European Language Portfolio Validation Committee (ED-EVC) decided to launch an impact study in order to gauge the impact of ELP use in the classroom, on other projects in the education system and on language policy in general in the CoE member states. This could help to meet the requirements to show the value of the work done by operational services in the Council of Europe as well as to focus on work for the future.

The focus of the study was to be on the qualitative impact of the ELP. What difference has the ELP made on the processes of language teaching and learning in the different contexts in which ELP projects have been conducted? Have the expectations of the ELP developers been met? What challenges, expected and unexpected, have been encountered, and have they been overcome? It is hoped that the study based on specific examples will lead to the collection of further reports on the concrete and practical impact the ELP is having.

It was decided that a survey should be conducted by telephone with a selection of ELP Contact Persons and ELP project members. The European Validation Committee established a team of three people to prepare a preliminary version of the Impact Study and propose it for discussion and further decision at the next ED-EVC meeting in November 2008. The members of the team were: Maria Stoicheva, Gareth Hughes and Heike Speitz. The study covered the following countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Slovenia, UK (England). The study also covered a wide range of educational sectors: schools (primary and secondary), higher education (e.g. for initial teacher training), vocational and adult education.

The key actors interviewed in partner countries belonged to the following categories: ELP contact persons, representatives of institutions (teacher training and pedagogical institutions) involved in ELP activities, teachers participating or organising ELP conferences, training seminars, etc.

The ED-EVC drafted a total of 10 questions. The questionnaires were sent to the interviewees. They were asked to consider the impact of the implementation of the ELP in their contexts. This draft report has been written based on 12 interviews with key actors in the different countries. The choice of countries and respondents is not to be taken as representative. They are cases with a broad scope of geographical location and educational context. The report summarises the main findings of the interviews and the data gathered. The responses where quoted have been largely anonymised. The intention of the authors is to provide an overall picture of what the different cases provided.

It became clear in the course of the interviews that it is not always possible to make a clear distinction between the impact of the ELP and that of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). This is understandable insofar as the CEFR and the ELP were conceived at the same time. The ELP is the CEFR’s “companion piece” (D. Little 2009 ), and it can act as the implementation tool of many of the threads running through the CEFR, for example:
• transparency and coherence in setting goals and reporting proficiency
• learner autonomy
• plurilingual and pluricultural competence
The study reports how the interviewees interpreted the impact of the ELP, in many cases making little if no distinction between the CEFR and the ELP. In the conclusion to this study, the authors return to the relationship of the CEFR and the ELP in the light of what their interviewees reported.

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© Council of Europe - 2011