The activities of the Focus groups
A Focus Group is a gathering of informed individuals or experts who wish to share their point of view and experience on a topic or problem in a specific area. Download the FG Guidelines & Language Policy.
CercleS decided to set up focus groups in order to promote more active participation among its members as well as to pull together the competences available within our individual institutions, and by doing so:
- learn from each other with the aim to further develop ideas
- enhance the quality of our everyday work
- stimulate innovation and involve more CercleS members in the daily management of our network.
CercleS members are thus invited to express their interest and commitment in working in any of the activities listed below:
FG1. Language Policy
This focus group covers a wide variety of themes and leaves room for various activities and initiatives. The group may discuss and analyse the following questions:
What language policies have universities in Europe adopted so far? What form should or could a suitable university language policy take?
Is there a need for language centres to have a language policy? Do the individual National Associations have their own clearly defined language policy?
- What language policy should CercleS adopt?
- How can we contribute to creating plurilingualism within CercleS and at CercleS events in order to reach our members that are not confident in English? How can we convey information across the different languages?
- How can languages become a bridge rather than a barrier within CercleS?
Focus Group Reports
- CercleS Language Policy Position Statement
- Focus Group Language Policy participants (April 2014)
- Guidelines for a Language Policy Model
- CercleS FG Language Policy report (Barcelona 2013)
FG2. Management and Leadership
The focus group aims at creating a low threshold network for directors for sharing challenges, questions and by doing this provides collegial support in management and leadership. Expected results are an intranet for directors to exchange experiences, workshops and webinars for directors and a mentoring system for new directors.
FG3. Teacher Training, Teacher Education, Staff Exchange
This focus group will develop models and modules for professional development activities and staff exchanges within the CercleS network. It will identify areas in which training is required. It will also identify how the individual member associations can best benefit from competencies available in other member associations and thus lead to mutual exchange.
Focus Group Reports
This focus group will suggest new ideas for our everyday work. It will stimulate innovation, e.g. in the structure of language centres, in language teaching, in the use of ICT as well as in language testing. The idea behind this focus group is to generate new ideas and models, which will then be piloted and further developed to stimulate changes for the future.
FG5. Language Testing and Assessment
Several National Associations have set up their own language testing network or system, or are in the process of setting them up. However, cross-border co-operation is still at an initial stage. This focus group will analyse the models available within our National Associations (and outside), analyse their strengths and weaknesses, perhaps develop ideas for new models, seeking to promote harmonisation and / or mutual recognition through agreements at bilateral or multilateral levels.
FG6. ELP / CEFR
The CercleS ELP has become a widely successful and useful tool that is actively used in many CercleS member institutions. In September 2009 CercleS second ELP/CEFR Seminar took place in Padua and the third in Gronigen in 2011. Both received very positive feedback. The next step in our activities is the development of a downloadable version of the CercleS ELP in all languages as a pdf file as well to be completed online. CercleS will then look into the prospect of developing a true online version of the CercleS ELP. Furthermore, this group will also consider the context of the CercleS ELP, i.e. the CEFR, and how the CEFR can be used more actively and efficiently not only in language teaching & learning but also in language testing and assessment.
FG7. Less Widely Spoken and Less Widely Taught Languages
English plays a key role in our everyday work: in many language centres. It constitutes the highest number of language courses and presents the highest demand among students, as well as being the most used language in international co-operation. However, other major European languages also play an important part in serving different needs. Likewise, language centres have a key role in the teaching of languages that are not widely taught at secondary level: Eastern European, Asian languages as well as heritage languages are becoming more popular and are being taught more frequently in many university language centres. This focus group will analyse the potential of teaching these languages and look into similarities and differences concerning their role and status in language centres.
FG8. Conference and Event Management
This focus group will develop guidelines for the organisation of CercleS conferences and events, i.e. develop a framework for CercleS conferences, CercleS seminars and workshops, and events organised in co-operation with CercleS. This comprises structural and budgeting aspects, the use of languages, the question of follow-up activities, etc.
Focus Group Reports
Guidelines for the organisation of CercleS conferences and events
Many University Language Centres have started to provide translation services both to their own university and to external clients. The contexts in which they operate vary considerably. Some Language Centres have a dedicated translation unit. This is in some cases organised like a small business and outsources jobs to freelancers when need arises. Other Language Centres (perhaps the majority) provide translation services on a more loosely organized basis and rely on internal staff for the most part. Whatever their organization, in providing translation services Language Centres face some common challenges and the Translation Focus Group of CercleS is interested in finding ways of sharing ideas and expertise.
Focus Group Reports
FG10. Associate members
So far, Associate Members have not played a central role in CercleS and do not always feel they are a part of our confederation at the same level as full members. In some cases they are not in a position to create a National Association. With this focus group we would like to invite Associate Members to become more active in CercleS by discussing their specific problems, their needs and their potential, sharing with us their experience and competencies. FG coordinator and contact person: to be nominated.
FG11. CercleS Focus Group on Multilingualism
There are two seemingly contradictory trends to be observed in the landscape of higher education in Europe. On the one hand there is the increasing use of English as a lingua franca for research and teaching. On the other hand the effects of globalization and migration become visible. University teachers, language teachers in particular, are confronted with students, who come to our institutions already as multilingual as well as multicultural individuals.
This new Focus Group would like to function as a platform for the exchange of ideas for colleagues who are interested in finding answers to the linguistic changes which affect higher education. The first aim would be to develop a consultation paper which connects the situation and challenges within higher education with the linguistic developments in our European societies at large.
FG12. CercleS Focus Group on Autonomy
Since CercleS was established in 1990, language centres have offered their learners various ways of improving their language skills. They are often innovative places where new pedagogical approaches and devices for language learning are proposed.
Among the different learning possibilities offered to students in language centres, some aim at facilitating the development of learner autonomy. Some language centres indeed offer tools such as self-access centres, and language advising facilities that enable learners to take more control of their learning to support autonomization.
The purpose of this focus group is to investigate the relationships between learner autonomy and language centres. It will also try to clarify the concept of autonomy, which, although widely used in language learning publications these last 30 years is complex and open to various interpretations.
This focus group will collaborate e.g. with Focus Group 4 (Innovation) and 6 (ELP / CEFR).
This is not an exhaustive list and there are many other activities CercleS could focus on. Ideas and suggestions are very welcome.