N Todorova - European communicative integration the council of europelanguage education policies - страница 1

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European integration is defined as the country's key priority that accumulates comprehensive home and foreign policy efforts of Ukraine to approach the European Union and to create the necessary prerequisites to be accepted as a member of the EU in future. Pushed by the gas disputes with Russia and subsequent political crisis, Ukraine is currently escalating its ambitions to apply for the EU membership as soon as possible. The Head of the Mission to the EU Mr. Roman Shpek in his speech on the meeting on the EP Delegation on Ukraine as on January 11, 2006 declared that "political appeal to consider association with Ukraine, which may lead in the end to my country's accession to the EU clearly defines understanding and support of the European expectations of the majority of the Ukrainian citizens" and called the EU "to finally put an end to the so called "period of reflection" towards euro integration perspective of Ukraine. The sooner it will happen - the better." [1]

The economic and political issues of the European integration have become burning in the papers of Western and Ukrainian scholars and politicians. The economic indicators and aspects of social and political organization of the society are thoroughly analysed regarding the prospects for Ukraine to be considered as a prospective EU member. Much less attention is paid to the country's readiness to enter a European public space, which, according to Breidbach, requires citizens competent to participate in multilateral communication and culturally literate [2]. In this paper, I wish to look at those aspects of European communicative integration that are connected with the Council of Europe language policy and foreign language education. The purpose of this review is to draw some conclusions and implications to be further considered by the Ukrainian elite and educational bodies if our government has declared entering the European Union as our strategic goal.

Scholars have begun to recognise that successful European integration requires more than the implementation of efficient institutions and the harmonisation of national and European policy making. It also involves processes of communication and the emergence of a public sphere that allows citizens to get involved in public discourse about European politics. As the main objectives of the Council of Europe are the defence of human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of the law, the promotion and enhancement of cultural identity and diversity in Europe, the search for solutions to problems in society (discrimination against minorities, xenophobia, intolerance, damage to the environment, cloning, AIDS, drugs, organised crime); the development of democratic stability in Europe through support for political, legislative and constitutional reforms, there is no wonder why this intergovernmental organisation emphasises communicative integration and language policy.

European communicative integration is part of the more comprehensive process of European integration. As Breidbach maintains, communicative integration leads back to the question of unity and diversity [3]. A European public space is grounded on the values of the European democracy. As the democratic values imply, the existence of power should be justified by the exchange of opinions, while in order to be able to exchange opinions one needs language and knowledge about language [4].

The European Union is a Communicative Community of the European nations and their peoples [5]. As a communicative community, it should ensure that all decisions are taken by means of an argumentative institutionalised dialogue, with the most convincing argument dominating. To avoid cultural distortions, to establish a proper understanding, and thus, to be effective in the course of transnational communication one needs a solid knowledge of a number of languages within their cultural and historical contexts. People will have to be able to

~i Тодорова Наталія Юріївна, кандидат філологічних наук, завідувач кафедри іноземних мов професійного спілкування Донецького національного технічного університету.

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communicate, to participate in public discourse on the questions of a future Europe before they can find their sense of belonging to Europe - the European identity.

Decisions concerning a language policy are always based on some ideology. This ideology reflects the linguistic relationship between its user-community and another community and, in most cases, contains a value judgment. This ideology will also define actions to be taken, in other words, the community's language policy. According to Cobarrubias [6], language policies are essentially based on ideologies that are assimilationist, pluralist, vernacular or tending to internationalism. The first two ideologies study the relationship between languages or language variations co-existing in one country in order to decide on the number of languages or language variations to recognise officially. The latter two determine the area from which the standard to be chosen and codified will be taken, in other words, the source of the standard. This can be either the local language (or language variation) or a universal language (or another variation used as a standard elsewhere).

The policy of assimilation demands that users of non-dominant languages should be capable of using the dominant language. The pluralist policy ensures the equal right of various language groups to keep and use their own language. The vernacular ideology, on the one hand, supports the vernacular languages as opposed to the international ones used in the region or, on the other hand, the mother tongue (the first language) against the country's dominant language. Internationalism means that a universal language is introduced as the official language or the language of education. Daoust [7] adds a fifth ideology to the principal types of Cobarrubias, that of purism, which is a close relative of the ideology of assimilation. The purist ideology is characterised by sentiments and relationships which are, in this particular case, rooted in an idealised language; this ideal language is generally identified as the written language and is very firmly distinguished from everyday language. Moral and aesthetic values are linked to this idealised language, command of it earns society's esteem and, for this reason, it is supported by education and other social institutions. Purism has its roots in Europe, in the period when people were forming nations, and it was linked very closely with this development. This ideology demands that any language variation that is different from the idealised version should be considered deviant and be condemned as such.

The principal types of language ideology are often found in mixed form in the language policy of a country. Of course, there can be various stages between assimilation and the implementation of "pure" pluralism. Furthermore, policies of pluralism and assimilation have different degrees and they can appear to run in parallel: a country can follow a pluralist policy with regard to one of its national minorities while following a policy of assimilation towards another minority. The pluralist language policy is declared dominant in Europe and supported by both the Council of Europe and the European Union.

This policy implies the taking of a position and the art of dealing with the myriad manifestations of languages and intercultural communication. To address political questions is to engage with the ideologies of those engaged in public and ethical debates in the social domain. It is also to ask questions of identity: individual, social, cultural, intercultural and linguistic. Such questions may be addressed to the educational domain, to the field of literature, media and the visual arts through the politics of the intercultural narrative. They may concern developments in public discourse, language rights, policy decisions concerning the place of languages and translation in society. They may equally seek to describe, compare and analyse different social and cultural forms of plurilingualism and linguistic identity.

The Council of Europe has for many years addressed language issues with the aim of fostering plurilingualism as a means of securing peace and stabilising the development of democracy. The European Union, which grew out of an economic community, has rediscovered plurilingualism in the course of internationalisation and the necessity for professional and economic mobility. The current language policy stems from the conviction that European integration needs linguistic diversity to succeed, as the national languages of the member states and the many regional languages within the EU play a crucial part in people's lives. Any form of

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linguistic dominance through other languages or negligence of one's own language is regarded as a serious obstruction of the path towards integration. The position of the Council of Europe is officially stated in several documents. The Legal instruments are European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The policy matters are stipulated in Recommendation No. R (1998) 6 of the Committee of Ministers on modern languages, Recommendation 1383 (1998) of the Parliament Assembly on linguistic diversification: and response from the Committee of Ministers (CM (99) 97) and Recommendation 1539 (2001) on the European Year of Languages. The practical actions are supported by the reference documents: Guide for the Development of Language Education Policies in Europe: From Linguistic Diversity to Plurilingual Education and Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment.

Languages express cultures and thus, cultural and linguistic diversity are a cornerstone of a European identity. This aspiration was clearly stated by the Treaty of Maastricht on European Union, 1992, Article F.1: "The Union shall respect the national identities of its Member States..." Then, the European Commission [8] confirmed: "Languages are also the key to knowing other people. Proficiency in languages helps to build up the feeling of being European with all its cultural wealth and diversity and of understanding between the citizens of Europe... Multilingualism is part and parcel of both European identity/citizenship and the learning society." And Article I-5 of the European Constitution, 29 October 2004 declares: "The Union shall respect the equality of Member States before the Constitution as well as their national identities... "

The issue of the European communicative integration has become urgent as a result of the socio-political transformations of the community the most significant of which was called by the scholars 'The European Babel Paradox', or EU's linguistic diversity dilemma [9]. The variety of languages in European Union is an asset, but it seems to contradict the idea of unity. Co­existence of different languages and cultures in Europe may result in creating an almost insurmountable obstacle to the exchange of opinions among Europeans. It impedes the emergence of a European public sphere, where political and cultural debate may be carried on beyond borders. As Coulmas maintains, "language still does much more to separate than to unite the peoples of Europe" [10].

Paul Treanor summarized trends that presently exist in Europe as regards to the language policy [11]. While neo-Atlanticists support English as European language of contact, defensive national language activists seek a limited multilingualism, of national languages. Regionalists and separatists want all languages to get equal status, with hundreds of official languages in Europe. At the same time, technological optimists believe full automatic translation will be available "soon", so the political issues will disappear. To add up to these trends, traditional defensive linguistic nationalism, to defend one language in one country only, has almost disappeared, although it is still popular with anti-immigrant parties. There is almost no support for a new artificial language, or for a revival of Latin or Greek.

Despite these diverse trends Treanor notes that, regardless of which specific languages are at issue, it is possible to define two fundamental attitudes in most language policy debates. On the one hand, some debaters maintain that the multiplicity of languages is an evil, and a source of conflict and this problem can be solved by a universal language, or at least a global auxiliary language. They voice the opinion that one specific language is superior to all others because it expresses truth, or value, or the Word of God, or is associated with a superior political philosophy, or social system. Such language should become the universal language, or near-universal language.

On the other hand, the opponents of the abovementioned attitude argue that "linguistic standardisation in modernity is inhuman and evil, like Newspeak in Orwell's 1984", that diversity of languages is a value in itself, similar to biodiversity, and it should be preserved, perhaps like a work of art. Language is seen as related to identity, culture, and memory and language erosion is cultural genocide. The term 'linguicide' is derived directly from 'genocide'.

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The politics of language, and the style of political debate about language, highly depend on national politics. The language claims are parallel to the national claims. So it is but logical that the term 'linguicide' was invented.

These two attitudes described above reflect a paradoxical situation that the EU has to face and handle: one challenge is to comprehend and preserve what is diverse and different; another challenge is to develop an integrated identity as a European citizen. Bringing unity and diversity together while developing the nation states in Europe raised the question of a common, national language [12] and gave push to political and pedagogical debates concerning language choice and the teaching of languages.

The Council of Europe is aware that the dominance of English as the most widely taught foreign language is problematic for the promotion of linguistic diversity through foreign language teaching: "Linguistic diversification remains an objective of the language policies of European institutions. <...> For many reasons, a self-reinforcing upward spiral operates in favour of English as the first foreign language in almost all educational systems and in general international communication, not only in Europe but on a global scale. <...> However, one single vehicular language is not a panacea for international communication in a linguistically complex Europe." [13] As a consequence, the Guide for the Development of Language Education Policies in Europe [14] expresses a warning that "the pursuit of diversity and plurilingualism however, requires a political will and action to counteract economic factors and popular misperceptions, which will otherwise lead to reduction of the number of languages known and linguistic homogenisation in general, with the plurilingualism of individuals only existing among social elites".

The views on linguistic plurality as a possible limiting factor for European democracy got the scholars to conclude that a common language could be a strengthening factor for the communicative integration of a community, yet it is not an absolute precondition for a European public space and thus for European democracy. Applying the model by Gerhards and Neidhardt, Beierwaltes [15] distinguishes between three levels of a public space, which differ in structure and their institutional and technological prerequisites: (a) the level of public encounters; (b) the level of public assemblies, and (c) the level of the public mass media, strengthening their a vital role in the public control of political decision-making processes. Yet these levels are only loosely interconnected, and on the transnational, European level the number of different languages reduces internal and intensive interconnection of public.

Different levels of such a space have different linguistic requirements. With increasing mobility, people will develop communicative needs within situations of personal encounters. Increasing economic and political interdependence develops mass media communication. It makes the analysts conclude that one single common language for a transnational European public space would not be a necessary requirement. Developing plurilateral communication needs will necessitate common linguistic grounds for the European nations to avoid speechlessness and 'isolation in diversity'. It is obvious that communicative integration requires finding the delicate balance between linguistic unity and linguistic diversity. The emergence of a European public sphere will require both. Linguistic diversity as an educational goal can certainly help to make the European Union more easily acceptable for the people of Europe.

Arguing with deploring English as a lingua franca, the analysts admit that the role of English within a framework of multilingualism remains a complex one. On the one hand, learners tend to consider proficiency in English as the most useful and prestigious, and thus sufficient, outcome of their foreign language studies. English remains to be the most widely taught foreign language in Europe. As this attitude seem to prevail, English is blamed for 'linguistic imperialism' and the most urgent problems of our days are to be seen in a global and globalised context with English as the language of globalisation.

On the other hand, English is advised be seen as a viable linguistic option which allows competent partners to negotiate their positions within a discourse. As Breidbach logically remarks, "it would indeed be difficult to understand why in most European countries English is

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taught on an obligatory basis and why at the same time it should not be acknowledged as a language which can be used for a purpose" [16]. Functioning as a direct mediator between participants in a discourse, English is the very linguistic means to give speakers, especially of lesser-used languages, their voice within a European public discourse. To add up to this, the teaching of English as the most common 'default' foreign language also implies teaching what Janssen calls 'extended communicative competence', which will help the speakers of other languages enter the discourse maintaining their native (local) language and cultural identity and capable of using different languages [17].

If the politics and education in Europe aim at establishing communicative integration, linguistic unity and linguistic diversity have to be taken into account. In a very general sense, European communicative integration is in itself a function of the process of European integration. Communicative integration centres on the development of a European public sphere which should encourage a productive discourse of deliberation of future political and cultural perspectives. Its various levels, national and transnational, become accessible through English on the one hand and through competence in other languages on the other. The acceptance of integration by European citizens depends to a large extent on their ability and willingness to participate in a European public discourse. Here, proficiency in English as a possible and reliable inter-lingual mediator and the equality of people's linguistic identities are interdependent factors which both originate in the history of modern Europe. Consideration must therefore be given to ways of finding the necessary balance in order to manage the potential conflicts between the equal status of languages and the need to differentiate between them. Trying to conciliate two trends in the unity-diversity paradox, Breidbach argues, "With present and future communicative needs overarching many national and regional speech communities, I believe that both a high competence in English and a wide-ranging foreign language competence are cornerstones to further integration in Europe and to develop what is described as a European identity" [18].

Education has always played a vital role within the European Cultural Convention in the promotion of the Council's fundamental values and goals. As Europe is to further grow as an economic and political unity and the citizens of Europe are to develop a sense of belonging together and of European identity, the issue of foreign language teaching and learning reaches beyond pragmatic and pedagogical dimensions. It becomes a political issue which calls for the development of an explicit language education policy. If Europeans aim to ensure stable, cohesive and sustainable societies, programmes in education and culture need to address two major areas: management of diversity and social inclusion in increasingly fragmented societies. The Council of Europe's activities to promote linguistic diversity and language learning in the field of education are carried out within the framework of article 2 of the European Cultural Convention. Council of Europe language education policies aim at promoting plurilingualism, mutual understanding, democratic citizenship and social cohesion. While the widespread use of English points towards increasing linguistic unity, multilingual education is considered necessary to preserve cultural diversity.

Harmonious communication and mutual understanding among the nations in Europe call for citizens' having the command of more than only one foreign language. The Year of Languages 2001 was the stimulus for an investigation into how concepts of teaching and learning several languages could be developed and put into practice. Within the last two and a half decades, the European Commission and the Council of Europe have taken political initiatives in the form of White Papers and Recommendations to promote individual multilingualism [19]. Both the Council of Europe and the European Union demand that their citizens should learn two foreign languages alongside their mother tongues. The Commission paper considers it "necessary for everyone.to acquire and keep up their ability to communicate in at least two Community languages in addition to their mother tongue" [20]. The Council of Europe takes a wider range of languages into view and encourages "all Europeans to achieve a degree of communicative ability in a number of languages" [21].

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The following pedagogical considerations underlie the policies formulated in the abovementioned documents:

- promotion of life-long learning of foreign languages;

- access to languages of diverse linguistic families;

- awareness-raising to understand languages and multilingualism as a human asset;

- peaceful communication;

- learning languages as one aspect of intercultural learning [22].

There are currently developing approaches to the promotion of language teaching and diversification in the context of their role in the implementation of human rights and democracy. There is notable convergence in the principles presented with respect to languages, language teaching and their role in societies. This synergy is to be welcomed in the face of ideologies which value languages only for the world of work and lead to monolingualism as the most economic solution.

European language education policy stems from recognising Europe as a whole and most Member States of the Council of Europe individually as multicultural and multilingual unities. The situation in Europe is characterized by the diversity of dozens of languages and cultures (more than 80 in over 40 countries with very different numbers of native speakers, cultural background, geographic distribution, etc.) [23]. In the effort to help Europeans become plurilingual and intercultural citizens, able to interact with other Europeans in all aspects of their lives, European foreign language policy sets a threefold objective, as summarised by Neuner


- pragmatic: facilitating the private and professional mobility of the citizens and the exchange of ideas.

- intercultural: overcoming prejudices and developing mutual interest and tolerance among European citizens;

- socio-political: protecting and supporting the rich heritage of linguistic and cultural diversity as a source of mutual enrichment.

This objective is logically supported by the following principles that underlie European foreign language policy.

First, the declared principle of equality of all languages and cultures in the 'House of Europe' (and outside) implies that foreign language teaching must aim at creating interest in the cultures of European neighbours and developing an attitude of openness, of tolerance and respect for otherness and difference. Traditional focus of foreign language teaching on developing pragmatic skills is currently shifted on mastering the socio-cultural background which is closely connected with every language.

Secondly, plurilinguality, i.e. learning more than one foreign language, is introduced more and more to the system of the European formal education. According to the language education policy proclaimed, the development of plurilinguality is a civil right and civil duty for the European citizen of the future. This, as a result, should challenge the system of formal education so that every European should be given the chance to learn more than one foreign language while at school.

Thirdly, a diversity of languages should be offered; this includes the languages with a comparatively small number of native speakers, the languages of minority groups within a country and especially refers to the languages of the immediate geographic neighbours (most European countries have many more than one neighbour), but it may also refer to non-European languages.

Fourthly, learning a foreign language may have different objectives and motivations, it can be done with varying intensity, with a variety of methods and in various contexts (at home or abroad; in the classroom or outside; with the help of textbooks or other media; while at school or after) and it may lead to varying profiles of skills and proficiency in the different languages that are learnt.

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Thus, as the linguistic heritage and cultural diversity are a valuable common resource which should be protected and developed, a major educational effort is needed to transform this multicoloured linguistic variety from a barrier to communication to a source of understanding and progress. Only a better knowledge of European modern languages can facilitate communication and interaction among Europeans of different mother tongues in order to promote European mobility, co-operation and mutual understanding and to overcome prejudice and discrimination.

Ongoing collaboration in order to achieve harmony in the defining the language policy requires certain arrangements from the member states. In pursuit of the principles stated above the Committee of Ministers called upon the governments of member states to promote national and international co-operation among governmental and non-governmental organisations engaged in teaching modern languages, in the development of methods of evaluation, in the development and implementation of teaching programmes together with the support of the institutions engaged in the production and use of multimedia materials; take the necessary steps towards establishing an effective European system of information exchange covering all aspects of research, language learning and teaching and making full use of information technology. Two complementary bodies are involved in the Council of Europe's language programmes: The Language Policy Division and The European Centre for Modern Languages in Graz.

The Steering Committee for Education of the Council of Europe, the Language Policy Division and the European Centre for Modern Languages aim to encourage, support and co­ordinate the work of governmental and non-governmental organisations in order to improve language teaching with regard to the measures already taken towards the implementation of the general measures set out in Recommendation No. (82) 18:

1. To ensure, as far as possible, access to effective means of acquiring a knowledge of the languages of other member states (or of other communities within their own country), as well as the skills in the use of those languages that will enable them to satisfy their communicative needs and in particular:

1.1. to deal with the business of everyday life in another country, and to help foreigners staying in their own country to do so;

1.2. to exchange information and ideas with young people and adults who speak a different language and to communicate their thoughts and feelings to them;

1.3. to achieve a wider and deeper understanding of the way of life and forms of thought of other peoples and of their cultural heritage.

2. To promote, encourage and support the efforts of teachers and learners at all levels to apply in their own situation the principles of the construction of language-learning systems (as these are progressively developed within the Council of Europe 'Modern languages' programme):

2.1. by basing language teaching  and learning  on the needs, motivations, characteristics and resources of learners;

2.2. by defining worthwhile and realistic objectives as explicitly as possible;

2.3. by developing appropriate methods and materials;

2.4. by developing suitable forms and instruments for the evaluating of learning programmes.

3. To promote research and development programmes leading to the introduction, at all educational levels, of methods and materials best suited to enabling different classes and types of student to acquire a communicative proficiency appropriate to their specific needs [25].

The European Union's language policy is based on the same principles. Teachers in both member and candidate countries are well acquainted with the community programmes (Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Youth) which contribute to the implementation of the language education policy of the European Union. As a part of their policy to develop a multilingual Europe, the

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European Commission has recently launched a public survey on language learning and on linguistic diversity in Europe.

The European Year of Languages 2001 revealed fundamental contradictions in European language policies: it made clear that plurilingualism was far from being a reality in Europe. Krumm quotes [26] that an overview of the number of foreign languages a pupil learns on average shows for Luxembourg an average of 2.9 languages, for Finland 2.4 and for Denmark and Belgium 1.9. Compared with other countries in Europe, Germany's 1.2 languages per pupil -in Austria the figure is slightly higher, namely 1.36 languages per pupil - puts it in last place, with a rather negative overall result. According to the Eurobarometer Survey of December 2000, 47% of EU citizens cannot speak any foreign language at all and only 41% can speak English. While plurilingualism was set as an objective, the programmes of the European Commission and the Council of Europe for the Year of Languages in fact exclude multilingualism. For example, the Centre for Modern Languages in Graz, whose homepage (http://www.ecml.at, of January 2001) invited foreign language teachers from around the world to participate in the "Teachers of the Week Project" as part of the European Year of Languages, stated, "Teachers of any language are invited to participate, submission of entries is only possible English and French". Public discussion of the contradictory nature of European language policies is still taboo, as was demonstrated, for example, by the reactions to the German and Austrian objections to the working language regulation proposed by Finland during its EU Presidency and by the secrecy with which - in order to avoid such public discussion - German has in the meantime indeed been established as a semi-official working or negotiating language.

The Year of Languages has at long last made languages a topic of discussion once again. Politicians also discovered how important European multilingualism is for the functioning of democracy in Europe. One only has to imagine the reaction if every citizen standing for office as Member of the European Parliament first had to take an examination in English to prove he/she capable of representing his/her own country competently in English. Political rights in the EU, if it wishes to survive, cannot be tied to knowledge of a language. For this reason, the Council of Europe has also in recent years increasingly placed its language projects within the context of its concept of democratic citizenship.

The Language Policy Division organised in June 2004 a Policy Forum in Strasbourg in the context of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the European Cultural Convention. The Convention has shown itself to be a flexible instrument for practical and effective international co-operation in the fields of culture, education, youth and sport. Programmes in education have covered a range of key areas in general and higher education over five decades in response to the priorities set by member states.

Language education has been a key element in education programmes since 1957 and the explicit reference to co-operation in language teaching in the European Cultural Convention (article 2) was quite an achievement at that time. The sharing of expertise and practical results arising from the language projects in Strasbourg in the past decades contributed to the fundamental values and policies of the Council of Europe. This commitment has more recently been reinforced and extended through the setting up and steady growth in membership of the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) in Graz.

The Policy Forum is an opportunity to explore the major issues in language education policy at a particularly appropriate time in the history of the Council of Europe. The purpose of the Forum is to present to Member states the opportunity to make known and analyse their policy priorities with respect to language education and to consider future directions for the Council of Europe. In particular, the Forum deals with recent policy developments at international level, the policy implications of possible convergences between education in 'mother tongues', 'national languages', and 'foreign languages'. It also estimates new initiatives with respect to increased transparency in assessment and standards and considered the fundamental issues to be included in a new draft document of the Council of Europe on current trends and future perspectives in language education policy.

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Innovative approaches to the promotion of plurilingual education in institutional, regional and national contexts dealt with the opportunities of benefiting from the multilingual potential already existing in society, and with encouraging the development of plurilingualism in education systems.

The Convention has shown itself to be a flexible instrument for practical and effective international co-operation in the fields of culture, education, youth and sport. Programmes in education have covered a range of key areas in general and Higher Education over five decades in response to the priorities set by member states. Language education has been a key element in education programmes since 1957 and the explicit reference to co-operation in language teaching in the European Cultural Convention (article 2) was quite an achievement at that time. The sharing of expertise and practical results arising from the language projects in Strasbourg in the past decades contributed to the fundamental values and policies of the Council of Europe. This commitment has more recently been reinforced and extended through the setting up and steady growth in membership of the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) in Graz.

Political developments of 2005 - 3rd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe, and the European Year of Citizenship through Education - are to impact on the work in education, and consequently in languages. These events highlighted the contribution of education to the overall goals of the Council of Europe - human rights, pluralist democracy, rule of law - and the pursuit of social inclusion and equal opportunities. They included the development of education policies for active democratic citizenship, social cohesion, the management of diversity, including linguistic diversity, and improved intercultural understanding. These issues are, and will remain, at the centre of the European language education programmes. These programmes provide an opportunity for educators to work closely together in developing cross-curricular programmes where languages are an important element, but one element among others. The practice is now focused on decompartmentalisation of education disciplines. Teachers of the national language and mother tongues, of geography and history, civic education and foreign languages, for example, are encouraged to work together in a concerted way on the intercultural and European dimensions of education.

In the European Union education is a key area of state intervention, often the largest single budget item, with up to 15% typically aggregate for developed countries. It is estimated that anything from 5% to 15% of this may be spent on foreign language teaching alone [27]. The considerable amount spent on teaching the official national language together with a global approach linking both kinds of languages means that language educators can be expected to make a very significant contribution to the development of the individual. The language profession has therefore a unique position in the European education systems. In an ever-changing world, education policies call for change, adjustment and reconstruction and teachers are to be the agents of change to meet the needs of new European society, which is open, tolerant, inter-linked, interdependent, co-operative and plurilingual.

To meet these new requirements the language teachers have at their disposal the reference documents and instruments developed by the Council of Europe. These concepts and instruments have been hugely influential in promoting new approaches to language teaching, and more recently in establishing common reference points for coherence and transparency in language education and qualifications. The existing instruments - the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), the European Language Portfolio (ELP) and others are being reviewed and further developed in such publications as the Guide for the Development of Language Education Policies in Europe, the Reference descriptions for national or regional languages, the Manual for Relating Language Examinations to the CEFR. The Language Policy Division develops instruments, rather than simply identifies and publicise "good practices" that serve as outstanding model examples of political or educational principles. These instruments are common frameworks for action, which can be implemented in a variety of ways depending on the context, within a single field of activity.

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The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEF) is a comprehensive document created to encourage reflection and communication about every aspect of language learning, teaching and assessment. It also helps teachers, teacher trainers, curriculum developers, materials designers and educational institutions communicate, co-ordinate their efforts, and focus their work. This document is "the result of over ten years' research by a number of leading applied linguists and pedagogical specialists from the 41 member states of the Council of Europe", a document that everybody in the profession should read nowadays. It is addressed to teachers, teacher trainers, course designers, materials writers, education authorities, examiners, even students to some extent. It attempts to provide a common framework so that courses and programmes are designed using the same approach; teachers and teacher trainers follow similar curricular and methodological guidelines, promoting learners' autonomy; and evaluation is carried out in a coherent and consistent way in order to develop fair, reliable systems of certification. It is an open, comprehensive and dynamic document as it asks questions rather than provides dogmatic answers.

The European Language Portfolio (ELP) [28] is an instrument drawing on the spirit of the CEF. Therefore it is designed to promote key features for effective learning to take place such as self-directed learning as well as self-evaluation. The ELP was developed and piloted by the Language Policy Division of the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, between 1998 and 2000. It was then launched during the European Year of Languages as a tool to support the development of plurilingualism and pluriculturalism. It proved to be very successful and effective. The development and implementation of ELPs in the different member states is one of the most serious attempts to apply the spirit and principles of the CEF.

The document has two main functions: the reporting function and the pedagogical one. The reporting function is there for the document to become "a valid record of competence regardless of its country, region, sector or institution of origin". The pedagogical function is based on the promotion of self-evaluation and individualisation of learner's needs by the learner her/himself. There are different portfolios for different age groups. Depending on the age of the language user, the reporting and the pedagogical function become more or less important. For adults, it seems that the reporting function is crucial, whereas the pedagogical function is more important for teenagers or children at school. The ELP is no substitute for a qualification awarded by an institution; it simply helps define what kind of qualification it is. In addition, it helps to specify and define the aims of a course and is by no means restricted uniquely to the language classroom as it allows space for the recording of intercultural experiences that are as effective for language learning as the lessons themselves.

The owner of the portfolio is the language learner. The document is open and should change as the owner records and reflects on the learning progress and the cultural experiences and how that helps her/him achieve objectives.

There must be at least three main parts in an ELP:

Language passport: A record of "Language competences [...] described according to common criteria accepted throughout Europe and which can serve as a complement to customary certificates".

Biography: A section that contains documents "describing the owner's experiences in each language and which is designed to guide the learner in planning and assessing progress".

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