Report from ECML colloquium: “The future of language education in the light of Covid – lessons learned and ways forward”

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Report from ECML colloquium: “The future of language education in the light of Covid – lessons learned and ways forward”

CercleS as a partner of the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe was invited to the colloquium entitled “The future of language education in the light of Covid – lessons learned and ways forward” held on 14th December 2021 and the ECML Professional Network Forum (PNF) meeting held on 15th December 2021. Sabina Schaffner, CercleS President, Manuel Fernando Moreira da Silva and Libor Stepanek, CercleS representatives at ECML, participated in the events in a virtual mode.

The colloquium (1) was dedicated to various topics related to languages in the HE. Apart from the presentation of a Europe-wide ECML survey on the impact of COVID on language teaching/learning (2), some ideas of interest included support of multilingual classes (“the importance of taking a holistic approach to language learning, emphasising the need for collaboration between teachers of various languages, and raising awareness of the necessity to draw on the learner´s plurilingualism as a resource rather than a problem”, Terry Lamb),  or the need to re-think assessment – “The role of curricular alignment; validity and reliability of (alternative) assessment formats” presented by David Little and José Noijons (3).

At the PNF meeting, the members informed their colleagues about the activities which their organisations are performing (4,5,6,7) CercleS presented its activities and invited PNF members to the CercleS 2022 Conference. The OECD team presentation of the PISA 2025 Foreign Language Assessment Framework, preceded by a rationale for introducing a proficiency test in English only for 15 year old school students disappointed the audience to a certain extent. The CercleS representative suggested the test should not be called “Foreign Language” Assessment if it includes only English, which could lead to serious misunderstandings, while others commented on the backwash effect that such proficiency testing can have on school (language) education. The comments of the PNF members seemed to be ignored. The general feeling was well-expressed by one PNF member: “…and good to know about the PISA English proficiency test – though I am utterly disappointed … I’m afraid that the efforts we all have been making to support the development of plurilingual competence through plurilingual pedagogies are met with one more tool of resistance…”. The programme of the Colloquium was recorded and presentations prepared for sharing. Both the recording and the presentations should be online in due course. 1) https://www.ecml.at/ECML-Programme/Programme2020-2023/Thefutureoflanguageeducation/Colloquium/tabid/5523/language/en-GB/Default.aspx 2) https://www.ecml.at/Portals/1/documents/events/webinar-presentation-future-language-education.pdf 3) https://lllplatform.eu/news/lllp-position-paper-2021-recommendations-rithinking-assessments-prioritising-learners-wellbeing/ 4) https://www.ecml.at/Home/ProfessionalNetworkForum/tabid/137/Default.aspx  5) https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/foreign-language-teachers-as-ambassadors-of-multilingualism-and-international-exchange_808f11a4-en 6) https://www.ecml.at/Portals/1/News%20articles/declaration-EN-final.pdf 7) https://www.ecml.at/TrainingConsultancy/EnhancinglanguagelearningandteachingthroughActionResearchCommunitiesforlanguageteachers(ARC)/tabid/4348/language/en-GB/Default.aspx