The purpose of this PowerPoint presentation is not only to provide information about the EPOSTL but also to act as a resource for anyone who wishes to give a presentation of the EPOSTL to teacher educators, mentors, students etc. If you wish to hold a presentation, please feel free to amend or shorten the presentation in any way you find appropriate.
Since its founding in 1994 the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe, situated in Graz, Austria, has fulfilled its mission to encourage excellence and innovation in language teaching and to help Europeans learn languages more efficiently.
Basing its work on the underlying values of the Council of Europe and its pioneering work in language education, the ECML is ideally equipped to act as a catalyst for reform in the teaching and learning of languages.
Central to the ECML's activities are the international projects that it runs. Dealing with a variety of aspects of language education, these projects are organised for the Centre by international teams of language experts from member states.
These projects are primarily targeted at teacher trainers, researchers and key multipliers in the language field. They aim at raising awareness, providing training and facilitating networks of mutual encouragement and support. The current medium-term programme of the ECML consists of 19 projects, involving coordinators and participants from all 33 member states.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby
Work on the European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages, which is known by the acronym EPOSTL, began in the summer of 2004 when a team of international experts was asked by the ECML to initiate a project that would make some contribution to harmonising language teacher education across Europe. Coming from countries which represent not only a wide geographical spread but where substantial differences in teaching and learning cultures can be found, the team began its search for a common basis which might assist both student teachers and teacher educators to identify and reflect on the didactic competences required by teachers of modern languages in whatever context they work.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby The EPOSTL team began its work with three main tasks in mind. These were: firstly to identify a set of core competences which teachers strive to develop not only during their teacher education but in the course of their ongoing professional experience. Second, to formulate these competences in terms of ‘I can …’ descriptors similar to those found in the common European Framework of Reference. And finally to embed these competences within a portfolio that could be used in pre-service teacher education to accompany students through their training and teaching practice.
The result of their work was the European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages, which was published in English and French in 2007 and in German in 2008 by the ECML. In addition a Polish version is available and translations into Italian, Spanish, Lithuanian, Romanian and Albanian are in preparation.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby The EPOSTL has various aims, the main ones of which are:
Siena February, 2008 David Newby The aims of the EPOSTL can be found in the User’s Guide
Siena February, 2008 David Newby
Siena February, 2008 David Newby The EPOSTL is divided Into nine sections, three of which comprise the actual working sections which require the students to perform tasks: These are the ‘Personal statement’, the ‘Self -Assessment section’ and the ‘Dossier’. The other sections serve the purpose of reference.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby The Personal Statement is intended for students at the beginning of their teacher education and will probably represent their first contact with the EPOSTL.
This contains various tasks and questions which require students to reflect on their experiences of learning and on their views of teaching. One of the purposes of this section is to provide a focus on the process of reflection, which is an essential aspect of the rationale of the EPOSTL.
At the heart of the EPOSTL are the 195 ‘can-do’ descriptors of didactic competences which the self-assessment section consists of. These descriptors may be regarded as a set of core competences which language teachers will strive to attain.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby However, they should be not be regarded as comprising a prescriptive list: they do not represent a fixed qualification profile, but are rather to be seen as competences that both student teachers and practising teachers will develop continuously during their teacher education and throughout their teaching career.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby These descriptors should not merely be regarded as a checklist of skills but serve as a springboard for reflection and discussion of what each competence actually entails and of measures that might be taken to implement these competences.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby In order to make the descriptors both more coherent and more user-friendly they are grouped into seven general categories, which have the following headings. The seven categories represent areas in which teachers require a variety of competences and need to make decisions related to teaching. At the beginning of each section is a brief introductory text which discusses some of the issues relating to the respective topic area.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby Each general category is further divided into sub-topics, providing a total of 32 areas and 195 competence descriptors. This organisation provides a flexible structure which allows the competence descriptors to be dealt with in any order appropriate to the course content, teaching practice etc. and also allows for recycling.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby Within each subdivision are the actual descriptors which vary in number according to the topic. Here you can see two examples of descriptors relating to the sub-topic of context: “Curriculum”.
Within each subdivision are the actual descriptors which vary in number according to the topic. Here you can see two examples of descriptors relating to the sub-topic of context: “Curriculum”.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby One question that had to be faced by the authors of the EPOSTL was if students were to self-assess their competences, how should this best be done? As is well known, the Common European Framework of Reference makes use of a six point scale to quantify language competences. Would this be possible for EPOSTL too? After consulting with a number of teacher educators it was felt that it would prove very difficult to quantify didactic competences in a strict numerical way. Therefore a different system was chosen which would enable student teachers both to reflect on their knowledge and skills and to chart their progress in the course of their teacher education.
For this purpose, each descriptor is accompanied by an open bar with a forward-pointing arrow. These bars help students both to assess their competence and to chart their progress as they gain more knowledge and experience of teaching.
They do this by colouring in part of the bar and adding the date on which the assessment is made. For example, a student may make an initial assessment at the beginning of her teacher education;
a second assessment may be made after attending a course which deals with the competence in question; a third assessment after completing teaching practice and so on. It should be added that it is not expected that all the bars be completely filled in by the end of the teacher education course. The arrows at the end of each bar indicate that teachers will continue developing competences throughout their teaching careers.
At the end of the self-assessment section is a photocopiable reflection grid, which provides the students with the opportunity to make notes on the reflection and self-assessment process.
The purpose of the reflection grid is to act as a kind of diary which will remind the student in what context a self-assessment was made and the reasons why she felt she had made progress at that point of time.
The third active section of the EPOSTL is the dossier, which as the name suggests and as with the European Language Portfolio, provides student teachers with the opportunity to collect documents relevant to their work with EPOSTL. The documents collected in the dossier will come from a variety of activities: they may be linked to a student’s teaching practice and take the form of lesson plans or diaries. They might include work not only produced by the student teacher but by school pupils or comments from the student teacher’s mentor.
A further source of dossier documents may be essays or other assignments carried out in the framework of a particular course. For example, in connection with the very first descriptor in the section ‘Context – Curriculum’ ‘I can understand the requirements set in national and local curricula’ students might be required to carry out an evaluation of their national curriculum and include this in the dossier.
At the end of the EPOSTL is a glossary of important terms connected with language learning and teaching used in the descriptors. These definitions correspond to a large extent to those found in the Common European Framework of Reference.
In compiling the EPOSTL the team of authors were aware that they were not treading new ground but were able to take advantage of important work already carried out within the Language Policy Division of the Council of Europe and the European Commission.
Three documents that contributed to the concept of the EPOSTL were the Common European Framework of Reference and the European Language portfolio, deriving from the Council of Europe and the European Profile for Language Teacher Education, which was compiled by a team from Southampton University within the framework of a European Commission project.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby As far as the Common European Framework is concerned, there are various similarities in its rationale with the EPOSTL. First of all, we can cite the aim to provide common ground for teachers and teacher educators across Europe. Just as the Common European Framework provides a common basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses, curriculum guidelines, examinations, textbooks etc. across Europe. Similarly, EPOSTL aims to provide a common basis for student teachers, teachers and teacher educators
Siena February, 2008 David Newby One obvious difference is that while the Common European Framework is largely, though by no means exclusively, concerned with the learning of languages, the EPOSTL is essentially concerned with the teaching of languages. This can be seen from this quotation taken from the Common European Framework of Reference, which can be adapted to describe the EPOSTL, with its focus on teaching. As a result it can be said that the two documents complement each other, the one taking a learning perspective; the other a teaching perspective.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby This complementarity can be seen by comparing statements from the two documents. The examples chosen concern the skill of reading. The left hand column shows competences identified by the CEFR that learners need to develop in the process of becoming competent readers. The right-hand column shows the corresponding competences that teachers need to develop in order to facilitate the reading skills listed in the CEFR.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby Perhaps the most obvious similarity between the EPOSTL and another Council of Europe instrument is with the European Language Portfolio. One of the mains aims of the ELP is that learners should reflect on the language and cultural competences they have acquired. To this end, learners are provided with lists of ‘can-do’ descriptors as the basis for their personal self-assessment. (Here you can see an ELP developed in Austria.)
Siena February, 2008 David Newby Similarly, can-do descriptors form the core of the EPOSTL. However, there is an important difference. Whereas the ELP is predominantly concerned with language competences, the EPOSTL is concerned with didactic competences. As with the Common European Framework, we can see a certain complementarity between the two documents as this example concerning the skill of reading shows.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby The third source of influence on EPOSTL was the publication developed at Southampton University with the support of the European Commission: the European Profile for Language Teacher Education: A Frame of Reference.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby Like the EPOSTL, the European Profile focuses on pre-service language education and on the competences of future teachers of languages. The Profile describes itself as a toolkit of 40 items which could be included in a teacher education programme to equip language teachers with the necessary skills and knowledge, as well as other professional competencies’.
One main difference, however, is that the target group of the Profile is teacher educators, the main aim being to assist them in the process of curriculum design and course development. The target group of the EPOSTL on the other hand is the student-teacher. It could be said that whilst the European Profile takes a top-down view of teacher education, the EPOSTL takes a bottom-up view.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby We will thus find a considerable correspondence of topics in the two documents. As the following example concerning curriculum design shows. The European Profile states what teacher education institutions should provide; the EPOSTL lists the corresponding competence which student teachers should acquire.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby Similarly, we can see correspondences in the area of assessment and test design. The dual perspective of both teacher educator and student teacher means that the two documents, together with the Common European Framework of Reference, can play a valuable role in the design of teacher education courses.
A further influence on the final version of the EPOSTL was played by the European Centre for Modern Languages and the expertise which it is able to offer through workshop participants from its 33 member states.
On two occasions during the development of the EPOSTL workshops were held with the aim of assessing the work in progress and of advising the team of authors on the content of the EPOSTL.
At the first workshop, entitled ‘Back to the Future’, participants were all students undergoing their initial teacher education. They were thus in a good position to comment on the wording of the descriptors and on the potential usefulness for them both as student teachers and as teachers in their future professions.
The second workshop held at the ECML was attended by experienced teacher educators. Once more, they provided valuable comments concerning the content and scope of the EPOSTL and led to considerable changes in the final version.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby As has been shown, the EPOSTL was the outcome of a variety of European sources and impulses. It was on this basis of the influence of the European Profile, the Common European Framework of Reference, the European Language profile and the contribution of student teachers and teacher educators from the 33 member states of the ECML that it was decided to include the word ‘European’ in the title of EPOSTL.
Siena February, 2008 David Newby It is hoped that the EPOSTL will support teacher education in various ways.
At the beginning of 2008 a follow up project, EPOSTL2, began, which will be mainly concerned with ways of implementing EPOSTL in teacher education. Further information about this project and about EPOSTL is available from this website.
EPOSTL Project TasksAddress content of teacher education core competencesTo formulate didactic competencedescriptors (I can…) relating to languageteachingDevelop a Portfolio to help studentteachers reflect on their knowledge,skills and values 12
EPOSTLI can understand I can understand andthe requirements integrate content of European documentsset in national (e.g. CEFR, ELP) asand local appropriate in mycurricula. teaching. 30
EPOSTL Quantifying competencesC2 Can exploit a comprehensive and reliable mastery of a very wide range of language to formulate thoughts precisely, give emphasis, differentiate and eliminate ambiguity.C1 Can select an appropriate formulation from a broad range of language to express him/herself clearly, without having to restrict what he/she wants to say.B2 Can express him/herself clearly and without much sign of having to restrictB1 EPOSTL? what he/she wants to say. Has a sufficient range of language to describe unpredictable situations, explain the main points in an idea or problem with reasonable precision and express thoughts on abstract or cultural topics such as music and films.A2 Has a repertoire of basic language which enables him/her to deal with everyday situations with predictable content, though he/she will generally have to compromise the message and search for words.A1 Has a very basic range of simple expressions about personal details and needs of a concrete type. 31
EPOSTL Council of Europe – Common European Framework of Reference – European Language PortfolioEuropean Commission/Univ.of Southampton– European Profile for Language Teacher Education – a frame of reference 41
EPOSTL The Common European Framework provides a common basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses, curriculum guidelines, examinations, textbooks etc. across Europe.The EPOSTL provides a commonbasis for the specification anddiscussion of didacticcompetences and teachereducation curricula across Europe. 42
EPOSTL The Common European Framework (…) describes in a comprehensive way what language learners have to learn to do in order to use a language for communication and what knowledge and skills they have to develop so as to be able to act effectively.The EPOSTL describes in acomprehensive way what languageteachers have to learn to do in order toteach learners to use a language forcommunication and what knowledgeand skills they have to help learners todevelop so as to be able to acteffectively. 43
EPOSTLCEFR: Overall reading comprehension (p.69) EPOSTL: Methodology, D. ReadingB1. Can read straightforward factual texts 1. I can select texts appropriate to theon subjects related to his/her field and needs, interests and language level of theinterest with a satisfactory level of learners.comprehension.CEFR: Reading for orientation (p.70) EPOSTL: Methodology, D. ReadingB1. Can scan longer texts in order to 5. I can set different activities in order tolocate desired information, and gather practise and develop different readinginformation from different parts of a text, strategies according to the purpose ofor from different texts in order to fulfil a reading (skimming, scanning etc.).specific task.CEFR: Reading for information and EPOSTL: Methodology, D. Readingargumentation (p.70)B2. Can understand articles and reports 9. I can help learners to develop criticalconcerned with contemporary problems in reading skills (reflection, interpretation,which the writers adopt particular stances analysis etc.).or viewpoints. 44
EPOSTL European Language Portfolio Language/learner-based: I can understand short simple texts written in common everyday languageEPOSTLDidactic/teacher-based:I can select texts appropriate tothe needs and language level ofthe learners 46
EPOSTLWhat is the Profile? ‘The Profile presents a toolkit of 40 items which could be included in a teacher education programme to equip language teachers with the necessary skills and knowledge’ (http://www.lang.soton.ac.uk/profile/report/MainRep ort.pdf) 48
EPOSTL Profile item 28: Training in the practical application of curricula and syllabuses.I can identify curriculumrequirements and set learningaims and objectives suited to mylearners needs and interests. 50
EPOSTL Profile item 19: Training in the application of various assessment procedures and ways of recording learners’ progress.EPOSTL :I can assess the process of project work.I can design a range of tests appropriatefor my testing aims and learners’ needs. 51
EPOSTL European Input to FTE Project CofE (LPD) CofE (LPD) CofE (ECML) EC Common European Platform of European European Language Teacher Profile Framework Portfolio EducatorsCategories, Rationale, Reflection, International ex- Insights ‘Can-do’ descriptors Self-assessment pertise, experience European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages (EPOSTL) 56
EPOSTL Expected outcomesProvide greater transparency of aims anddidactic competences in teacher education forboth students and educatorsSupport a reflective mode of teacher educationAid harmonisation of bottom-up, need-basedobjectives and top-town curriculum planningAid comparison of teacher educationprogrammes 57
EPOSTL More information and downloadable versions of the EPOSTL from http://epostl2.ecml.at/PowerPoint production:David NewbyNancy CampbellChristian Stenner 58
EPOSTLS P E C I A L T H A N K S TO S T U D E N TS F R O M 59