EPOSTL. European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages. A reflection tool for language teacher education

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1 Languages for social cohesion Language education in a multilingual and multicultural Europe Les langues pour la cohésion sociale L'éducation aux langues dans une Europe multilingue et multiculturelle European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages A reflection tool for language teacher education David Newby, Rebecca Allan, Anne-Brit Fenner, Barry Jones, Hanna Komorowska and Kristine Soghikyan EPOSTL European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages European Centre for Modern Languages Centre européen pour les langues vivantes COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONSEIL DE L EUROPE

2 Focusing its work on promoting innovative approaches in language education since 1995, the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) of the Council of Europe plays a significant role in disseminating good practice and assisting in its implementation in member states. The ECML runs research and development projects within the framework of medium-term programmes of activities. These projects are led by international teams of experts and concentrate mainly on training multipliers, promoting professional teacher development and setting up expert networks. The ECML s publications, which are the results of these projects, illustrate the dedication and active involvement of all those who participated in them, particularly the project co-ordination teams. The overall title of the ECML s second medium-term programme ( ) is Languages for social cohesion Language education in a multilingual and multicultural Europe. This thematic approach should enable us to deal with one of the major challenges our societies have to face at the beginning of the 21st century, highlighting the role of language education in improving mutual understanding and respect among the citizens of Europe. *** Set up in Graz, Austria, the ECML is an Enlarged Partial Agreement of the Council of Europe to which thirty-three countries have currently subscribed. Inspired by the fundamental values of the Council of Europe, the ECML promotes linguistic and cultural diversity and fosters plurilingualism and pluriculturalism among the citizens living in Europe. Its activities are complementary to those of the Language Policy Division, the Council of Europe unit responsible for the development of policies and planning tools in the field of language education. For further information on the ECML and its publications: European Centre for Modern Languages Nikolaiplatz 4 A-8020 Graz This publication is also available for download at the following website: The opinions expressed in this publication are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Council of Europe., February The 33 member states of the Enlarged Partial Agreement of the ECML are: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom.

3 CONTENTS Introduction... 5 Personal Statement... 9 Self-Assessment Dossier Glossary of Terms Index Users Guide This document was produced within the framework of the ECML project: From Profile to Portfolio: A Framework for Reflection in Language Teacher Education Further details are available from: 3

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5 INTRODUCTION What is the EPOSTL? The European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages (EPOSTL) is a document for students undergoing initial teacher education. It will encourage you to reflect on your didactic knowledge and skills necessary to teach languages, helps you to assess your own didactic competences and enables you to monitor your progress and to record your experiences of teaching during the course of your teacher education. Main aims of the EPOSTL 1. to encourage you to reflect on the competences a teacher strives to attain and on the underlying knowledge which feeds these competences; 2. to help prepare you for your future profession in a variety of teaching contexts; 3. to promote discussion between you and your peers and between you and your teacher educators and mentors; 4. to facilitate self-assessment of your developing competence; 5. to provide an instrument which helps chart progress. Contents of the EPOSTL The EPOSTL contains the following sections: A personal statement section to help you, at the beginning of your teacher education, to reflect on general questions related to teaching; A self-assessment section, consisting of can-do descriptors, to facilitate reflection and selfassessment; A dossier, in which you can make the outcome of your self-assessment transparent, to provide evidence of progress and to record examples of work relevant to teaching; A glossary of the most important terms relating to language learning and teaching used in the EPOSTL; An index of terms used in the descriptors; A users guide which gives detailed information about the EPOSTL. The self-assessment descriptors At the heart of the EPOSTL are the 193 descriptors of competences related to language teaching which comprise the self-assessment section. These descriptors may be regarded as a set of core competences which language teachers should strive to attain. 5

6 INTRODUCTION Categorisation of descriptors The descriptors are grouped into seven general categories. These represent areas in which teachers require knowledge and a variety of competences and need to make decisions related to teaching. Each heading has been sub-divided as follows: Self-assessment scales Each descriptor is accompanied by a bar, which will help you to visualise and chart your own competence. You can colour in the bar according to your own assessment. This may take place at different stages of your teacher education. On completion of your teacher education programme you may have produced a bar which looks something like this. 1. I can create a supportive atmosphere that invites learners to take part in speaking activities

7 INTRODUCTION In the above example the student has made self-assessments at three stages of her teacher education, which chart her growing competence. However, she feels she still has some way to go and has therefore left part of the bar blank. She has also added the date on which the self-assessment was carried out. It should be noted that it is not expected that all bars should be filled in at the end of your teaching programme! Learning to teach and becoming a good teacher is a continuous and life-long process! Although the descriptors provide a systematic way of considering competences, they should not be regarded as a checklist! It is important that they act as a stimulus for students, teacher educators and mentors to discuss important aspects of teacher education which underlie them and that they contribute to developing professional awareness. Further information about using the EPOSTL can be found in the users guide. 7

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9 PERSONAL STATEMENT Your name:... Institution:... Date of beginning to use EPOSTL:... The aim of the personal statement is to help you to reflect on aspects related to teaching in general and to think about questions that may be important at the beginning of your teacher education. Below you will find some questions concerning the teaching of languages which you may like to reflect on. At the end of this section, you can read some comments on the role and value of reflection. 9

10 PERSONAL STATEMENT 1. As learners of language in school, you already have had a lot of contact with teaching. What aspects teacher s qualities, practices etc. of your own language teaching might influence how you wish or do not wish to teach? Experiences of being taught Positive: Negative: (Try to analyse why these points were unsuccessful and consider what steps could be taken to improve the points you have mentioned.) 2. a) What aspects of teaching are you most looking forward to? b) What aspects of teaching are you least looking forward to?

11 PERSONAL STATEMENT 3. Expectations of your teacher education course a) What do you expect most from your teacher education? b) What do you want most from your teacher education? c) What do you think that your teacher educators expect from you? 4. How important do you consider the following for a language teacher? Add your own ideas. Discuss with a partner and give reasons for your choices. How important? not very important 1. Cooperating with others 2. Good organisational skills 3. Being able to explain grammar

12 PERSONAL STATEMENT Reflection In doing the last self-assessment activity the temptation is to respond quickly. However, on reflection, and given more time, you sometimes find that your first response needs to be modified. Initially you may have considered, for example, that being able to explain grammar is very important. not very important 3. Being able to explain grammar Discussion with others in your student teacher group, or with your tutor, or with teachers in school, may reveal that explaining grammar can be interpreted in different ways, such as: explaining rules - in the language the learners are learning - in the language of school education or providing examples of use and analysing them Further thought could prompt the idea that what is important is the learner s ability to explain grammar, rather than your ability as a student teacher to do so. It is this kind of reflection and these thinking processes that the EPOSTL is aiming to encourage. In the example above the process of reflection has taken two forms: personal reflection: you have considered what the statement means on your own; dialogic reflection: you have discussed and perhaps modified your view by working with others. The purposes of your reflection was not just to answer the question but also to justify your response in a principled, reasoned and informed way. The process of personal reflection enhances your ability to think independently, in parallel to learning about teaching and learning. Reflecting and collaborating with others when exploring and experimenting with methodologies will also help you to widen your horizons. In responding to the statement you may also have looked at a book on grammar to see how the word grammar is defined. Reference to resources is another process in developing your critical and enquiring approach to teaching and learning. This extended example, focused on grammar, leads to the question of which aspects of teaching and learning another language you should reflect on, engage with and explore. Although it is the content of your teacher education course which will provide the framework you need, the EPOSTL will help you to focus on specific questions which student teachers need to address. By asking you to think about a comprehensive range of aspects, features and issues related to teaching and learning a language in different countries it also seeks to enhance your ability to reflect not just on your own context but on similar contexts in other European countries. 12

13 SELF ASSESSMENT Descriptors Contents Context A. Curriculum B. Aims and Needs C. The Role of the Language Teacher D. Institutional Resources and Constraints Methodology A. Speaking/Spoken Interaction B. Writing/Written Interaction C. Listening D. Reading E. Grammar F. Vocabulary G. Culture Resources Lesson Planning A. Identification of Learning Objectives B. Lesson Content C. Organisation Conducting a Lesson A. Using Lesson Plans B. Content C. Interaction with Learners D. Classroom Management E. Classroom Language Independent Learning A. Learner Autonomy B. Homework C. Projects D. Portfolios E. Virtual Learning Environments F. Extra-curricular Activities Assessment of Learning A. Designing Assessment Tools B. Evaluation C. Self- and Peer Assessment D. Language Performance E. Culture F. Error Analysis Reflection Grid

14 SELF ASSESSMENT Context Introduction Decisions relating to teaching are strongly influenced by the educational and social context in which teachers work. This context is mainly predetermined by the requirements in the national and/or local curricula. However, there may also be international recommendations and documents, which will need consideration. Institutional constraints are another factor to be considered as they may have considerable impact on the work of teachers. A further dimension of the language learning context includes the overall aims and specific needs of learners, which, when identified, determine what the teacher does. Language teachers have a number of roles to play. In addition to teaching their subjects they may need to promote the value of language learning among learners, parents and society in general and build on and make the most of what learners bring with them. Teachers need to ensure ongoing professional growth through self- and peer-assessment, as well as keeping up with information available in the field. 14

15 SELF ASSESSMENT A. Curriculum 1. I can understand the requirements set in national and local curricula. 2. I can design language courses around the requirements of the national and local curricula. 3. I can understand the principles formulated in relevant European documents (e.g. Common European Framework of Reference, European Language Portfolio). 4. I can understand and integrate content of European documents (e.g. Common European Framework of Reference, European Language Portfolio) as appropriate in my teaching. 15

16 SELF ASSESSMENT B. Aims and Needs 1. I can understand the personal, intellectual and cultural value of learning other languages. 2. I can take account of overall, long-term aims based on needs and expectations. 3. I can take into account differing motivations for learning another language. 4. I can take into account the cognitive needs of learners (problem solving, drive for communication, acquiring knowledge etc.). 5. I can take into account the affective needs of learners (sense of achievement, enjoyment etc.). 6. I can take into account and assess the expectations and impact of educational stakeholders (employers, parents, funding agencies etc.). 7. I can take into account attainment target levels set in curricula (e.g. deriving from the Common European Framework of Reference). 16

17 SELF ASSESSMENT C. The Role of the Language Teacher 1. I can promote the value and benefits of language learning to learners, parents and others. 2. I can appreciate and make use of the value added to the classroom environment by learners with diverse cultural backgrounds. 3. I can take into account the knowledge of other languages learners may already possess and help them to build on this knowledge when learning additional languages. 4. I can draw on appropriate theories of language, learning, culture etc. and relevant research findings to guide my teaching. 5. I can critically assess my teaching on the basis of experience, learner feedback and learning outcomes and adapt it accordingly. 6. I can critically assess my teaching in relation to theoretical principles. 7. I can accept feedback from my peers and mentors and build this into my teaching. 8. I can observe my peers, recognise different methodological aspects of their teaching and offer them constructive feedback. 17

18 SELF ASSESSMENT 9. I can locate relevant articles, journals and research findings relating to aspects of teaching and learning. 10. I can identify and investigate specific pedagogical/ didactic issues related to my learners or my teaching in the form of action research. 18

19 SELF ASSESSMENT D. Institutional Resources and Constraints 1. I can assess how I might use the resources available in my school (OHP, computers, library etc.). 2. I can recognise the organisational constraints and resource limitations existent at my school and adapt my teaching accordingly. 19

20 SELF ASSESSMENT Methodology Introduction Methodology is the implementation of learning objectives through teaching procedures. It is based on principles deriving from theories of language description, language learning and language use. Specific teaching procedures may be applied to support the learning of aspects of the language system, such as grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. However, methodology should reflect the fact that these aspects of language are always present when skills are being practised and are therefore inextricably linked to communication. Also, the teaching of culture and its relationship with language will require specific methodological insights. Methodology may focus on how teachers can deal with the four main skills of speaking, writing, listening and reading, as reflected in the categorisation of this section. However, in written and oral communication in the classroom two or more skills will usually be integrated and are rarely treated in isolation. It may be the case that sets of principles and teaching procedures together comprise a coherent method or approach. A method refers to fairly fixed sets of teaching procedures (e.g. audio-lingual, suggestopedia ), in which the teacher s role is closely defined. An approach is the theoretical rationale that underlies everything that happens in the classroom. (H.D. Brown, 2002: 11). It is usually manifested through sets of principles which, in turn, guide the choice of teaching procedures. Examples are the communicative approach and task-based learning. 20

21 SELF ASSESSMENT A. Speaking/Spoken Interaction 1. I can create a supportive atmosphere that invites learners to take part in speaking activities. 2. I can evaluate and select meaningful speaking and interactional activities to encourage learners of differing abilities to participate. 3. I can evaluate and select meaningful speaking and interactional activities to encourage learners to express their opinions, identity, culture etc. 4. I can evaluate and select a range of meaningful speaking and interactional activities to develop fluency (discussion, role play, problem solving etc.). 5. I can evaluate and select different activities to help learners to become aware of and use different text types (telephone conversations, transactions, speeches etc.). 6. I can evaluate and select a variety of materials to stimulate speaking activities (visual aids, texts, authentic materials etc.). 7. I can evaluate and select activities which help learners to participate in ongoing spoken exchanges (conversations, transactions etc.) and to initiate or respond to utterances appropriately. 8. I can evaluate and select various activities to help learners to identify and use typical features of spoken language (informal language, fillers etc.). 21

22 SELF ASSESSMENT 9. I can help learners to use communication strategies (asking for clarification, comprehension checks etc.) and compensation strategies (paraphrasing, simplification etc) when engaging in spoken interaction. 10. I can evaluate and select a variety of techniques to make learners aware of, discriminate and help them to pronounce sounds in the target language. 11. I can evaluate and select a variety of techniques to make learners aware of and help them to use stress, rhythm and intonation. 12. I can evaluate and select a range of oral activities to develop accuracy (grammar, word choice etc.). 22

23 SELF ASSESSMENT B. Writing/Written Interaction 1. I can evaluate and select meaningful activities to encourage learners to develop their creative potential. 2. I can evaluate and select a range of meaningful writing activities to help learners become aware of and use appropriate language for different text types (letters, stories, reports etc). 3. I can evaluate and select texts in a variety of text types to function as good examples for the learners writing. 4. I can evaluate and select a variety of materials to stimulate writing (authentic materials, visual aids etc.). 5. I can evaluate and select activities which help learners to participate in written exchanges ( s, job applications etc.) and to initiate or respond to texts appropriately. 6. I can help learners to gather and share information for their writing tasks. 7. I can help learners to plan and structure written texts (e.g. by using mind maps, outlines etc.). 8. I can help learners to monitor, reflect on, edit and improve their own writing. 23

24 SELF ASSESSMENT 9. I can use peer-assessment and feedback to assist the writing process. 10. I can use a variety of techniques to help learners to develop awareness of the structure, coherence and cohesion of a text and produce texts accordingly. 11. I can evaluate and select a variety of techniques to make learners aware of and use spelling patterns and irregular spelling. 12. I can evaluate and select writing activities to consolidate learning (grammar, vocabulary, spelling etc.). 24

25 SELF ASSESSMENT C. Listening 1. I can select texts appropriate to the needs, interests and language level of the learners. 2. I can provide a range of pre-listening activities which help learners to orientate themselves to a text. 3. I can encourage learners to use their knowledge of a topic and their expectations about a text when listening. 4. I can design and select different activities in order to practise and develop different listening strategies (listening for gist, specific information etc.) 5. I can design and select different activities which help learners to recognise and interpret typical features of spoken language (tone of voice, intonation, style of speaking etc.). 6. I can help learners to apply strategies to cope with typical aspects of spoken language (background noise, redundancy etc.). 7. I can help learners to apply strategies to cope with difficult or unknown vocabulary of a text. 8. I can evaluate and select a variety of post-listening tasks to provide a bridge between listening and other skills. 25

26 SELF ASSESSMENT D. Reading 1. I can select texts appropriate to the needs, interests and language level of the learners. 2. I can provide a range of pre-reading activities to help learners to orientate themselves to a text. 3. I can encourage learners to use their knowledge of a topic and their expectations about a text when reading. 4. I can apply appropriate ways of reading a text in class (e.g. aloud, silently, in groups etc.). 5. I can set different activities in order to practise and develop different reading strategies according to the purpose of reading (skimming, scanning etc.). 6. I can help learners to develop different strategies to cope with difficult or unknown vocabulary in a text. 7. I can evaluate and select a variety of post-reading tasks to provide a bridge between reading and other skills. 8. I can recommend books appropriate to the needs, interests and language level of the learners. 9. I can help learners to develop critical reading skills (reflection, interpretation, analysis etc.). 26

27 SELF ASSESSMENT E. Grammar 1. I can introduce a grammatical item and help learners to practise it through meaningful contexts and appropriate texts. 2. I can introduce, and help students to deal with, new or unknown items of grammar in a variety of ways (teacher presentation, awareness-raising, discovery etc.). 3. I can deal with questions learners may ask about grammar and, if necessary, refer to appropriate grammar reference books. 4. I can use grammatical metalanguage if and when appropriate to the learners needs. 5. I can evaluate and select grammatical exercises and activities, which support learning and encourage oral and written communication. 27

28 SELF ASSESSMENT F. Vocabulary 1. I can evaluate and select a variety of activities which help learners to learn vocabulary. 2. I can evaluate and select tasks which help learners to use new vocabulary in oral and written contexts. 3. I can evaluate and select activities which enhance learners awareness of register differences. 28

29 SELF ASSESSMENT G. Culture 1. I can evaluate and select a variety of texts, source materials and activities which awaken learners interest in and help them to develop their knowledge and understanding of their own and the other language culture (cultural facts, events, attitudes and identity etc.). 2. I can create opportunities for learners to explore the culture of target language communities out of class (Internet, s etc). 3. I can evaluate and select a variety of texts, source materials and activities which make learners aware of similarities and differences in sociocultural norms of behaviour. 4. I can evaluate and select activities (role plays, simulated situations etc.) which help learners to develop their socio-cultural competence. 5. I can evaluate and select a variety of texts, source material and activities which help learners to reflect on the concept of otherness and understand different value systems. 6. I can evaluate and select texts, source materials and activities to make the learners aware of stereotyped views and challenge these. 7. I can evaluate and select activities which enhance the learners intercultural awareness. 8. I can evaluate and select a variety of texts and activities to make learners aware of the interrelationship between culture and language. 29

30 SELF ASSESSMENT Resources Introduction This section is concerned with a variety of sources teachers can draw on in the process of locating, selecting and/or producing ideas, texts, activities, tasks and reference materials useful for their learners. The national context with its curricula and recommendations plays an important role in the process of taking decisions related to the use of a coursebook. The local context with the institutional resources and constraints influences the equipment used as well as the process of selecting and designing appropriate materials. Aims and needs of the learners, their age, language level, motivations and interests guide the type of resources and ways of using them. Therefore, not only ready-made materials, texts and activities, but also those produced by teachers and learners find their place in the learning process, which might take place either in the classroom or in the course of independent learning. 30

31 SELF ASSESSMENT 1. I can identify and evaluate a range of coursebooks/materials appropriate for the age, interests and the language level of the learners. 2. I can select those texts and language activities from coursebooks appropriate for my learners. 3. I can locate and select listening and reading materials appropriate for the needs of my learners from a variety of sources, such as literature, mass media and the Internet. 4. I can make use of ideas and materials included in teachers handbooks and resource books. 5. I can design learning materials and activities appropriate for my learners. 6. I can recommend dictionaries and other reference books useful for my learners. 7. I can guide learners to produce materials for themselves and for other learners. 8. I can select and use ICT materials and activities in the classroom which are appropriate for my learners. 31

32 SELF ASSESSMENT 9. I can design ICT materials and activities appropriate for my learners. 10. I can guide learners to use the Internet for information retrieval. 11. I can use and critically assess ICT learning programmes and platforms. 32

33 SELF ASSESSMENT Lesson planning Introduction Planning lessons or periods of teaching deals with the main didactic questions of why, what and how: why one should focus on a specific learning objective, what material to choose and how to use the learning material. For the teacher the most important of these is to know why he or she makes a decision on which material to bring into the classroom and which activities to choose. The decision is dependent on curriculum requirements and on specific groups of learners. Teachers need to know the curriculum and how to transform aspects of it into transparent aims and objectives which can be understood by the learners. Choice of content is closely linked to the objectives. Following a textbook is usually not sufficient since textbooks only represent the author s interpretation of the curriculum and rarely take individual learners into consideration. Planning activities depends on both learning objectives and content and requires teachers to consider how learners can reach the objectives through the material chosen. When planning a lesson, the teacher s knowledge of language learning theory, a wide scope of methodology, resources and learner activities are as important as knowledge of the individual learner s abilities. 33

34 SELF ASSESSMENT A. Identification of Learning Objectives 1. I can identify curriculum requirements and set learning aims and objectives suited to my learners needs and interests. 2. I can plan specific learning objectives for individual lessons and/or for a period of teaching. 3. I can set objectives which challenge learners to reach their full potential. 4. I can set objectives which take into account the differing levels of ability and special educational needs of the learners. 5. I can decide whether to formulate objectives in terms of skills, topics, situations, linguistic systems (functions, notions, forms etc.). 6. I can set objectives which encourage learners to reflect on their learning. 34

35 SELF ASSESSMENT B. Lesson Content 1. I can structure lesson plans and/or plan for periods of teaching in a coherent and varied sequence of content. 2. I can vary and balance activities to include a variety of skills and competences. 3. I can plan activities to ensure the interdependence of listening, reading, writing and speaking. 4. I can plan activities to emphasise the interdependence of language and culture. 5. I can plan activities which link grammar and vocabulary with communication. 6. I can plan to teach elements of other subjects using the target language (cross- curricular teaching, CLIL etc.). 7. I can identify time needed for specific topics and activities and plan accordingly. 8. I can design activities to make the learners aware and build on their existing knowledge. 35

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