CfP: International conference on MFL textbooks, Portugal

AlgarveA Call for Papers has been opened for the international conference “Le livre pédagogique en langue(s) étrangère(s) du XIXe siècle au XXIe siècle” which will take place at the Université d’Algarve, Portugal, on 12-13 December, 2013.

The deadline for submission of abstracts (350-500 words, plus short CV) is 15 October.

For more information, please visit the conference website.

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LLAS ebulletin: Message from Prof Mike Kelly, Director of LLAS

(reblogged from the March 2013 LLAS ebulletin)

Mike Kelly

Prof Mike Kelly, Director of LLAS

Travelling around Europe recently, it has been very humbling to see how difficult life is for colleagues in other countries. A Greek colleague has had a 65% reduction in salary; a Portuguese colleague had a 36% reduction; while an Irish colleague had ‘only’ a 25% pay cut. And alongside that, posts are being cut and departments closed. For all the austerity we are suffering in the UK, we are still relatively protected. Wisely, the government has maintained the funding for education and research at a level that many European colleagues might envy. It will certainly benefit the future prosperity of our country if it can be sustained.

Within this picture, there is now a reconfiguration of priorities, which poses challenges for the whole area of arts and humanities. The periodic jostling for public funding now means that the ‘soft’ subjects have to justify the resources devoted to them alongside the ‘hard’ sciences. This is the context for the AHRC’s new strategy, entitled The Human World. It affirms the value of arts and humanities research, and argues that the people, skills and research that it supports interact with public life to bring cultural, intellectual and economic benefits to the UK.

The argument is an important one, and reflects a change of emphasis that brings the need for public impact into the centre of our concerns, rather than sitting on the periphery as ‘nice-to-have’ side effects. Those colleagues currently grappling with REF submissions will be all too aware of this. The new emphasis is not specific to the UK, but is now the settled view of governments across Europe. The growth and jobs agenda will be an increasing feature of research funding from every source. The challenge is for us to develop compelling arguments without abandoning our core values.

The arguments may be more familiar to languages people than to other disciplines in the humanities since we have had to argue the case for our subject endlessly over the past twenty years or so. The signs are that we shall have to redouble our efforts in this if our subject is to survive for the next twenty years.

Mike Kelly (follow Mike on Twitter at @ProfMikeKelly)
Director, LLAS Centre for languages, linguistics and area studies

In memoriam John Trim

John TrimJohn Trim was a remarkable figure in the European language education community. He had a long and distinguished career, first as a German scholar at UCL, then as Lecturer of Phonetics and later Director of Linguistics at Cambridge, where the Language Centre is named after him.

From the 1960s onwards, John Trim served as an advisor to the Council of Europe on learning, co-originator of the Threshold Level concept that has a huge influence on language curricula and testing, and one of the key authors of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

John was also one of the founders of BAAL. He attended first meetings in London in 1965, and was elected Treasurer at the first annual meeting at Reading in 1967, later serving as Chair from 1985 to 1988.

From 1978-1987, John served as Director of CILT, the Centre for Information on Language Teaching (1978-1987), where he played a key role in forming the Association for Language Learning. In 2012, he was awarded a Fellowship “in recognition for his lifetime of distinguished service and outstanding achievement in the field of language learning and teaching in Europe and the UK and for his long-term contribution to the furtherance of the Association for Language Learning”. (see Holmes)

To find out more about John Trim’s life, work and legacy, follow the links below:

John Trim, by Bernardette Holmes, Past President of ALL

In a presentation to the English Profile Seminar, Cambridge, February 2007, John Trim describes the development of the influential Threshold series

Interview with John Trim and Nick Saville to mark the 10th anniversary of the publication of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), recorded in May 2011

John Trim gave a keynote on the “CEFR: its educational and political background” at the ACTFL-CEFR Symposium 2012 which took place on 21-23 June 2012 at the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML, Graz). Listen to his speech on SoundCloud.

Messages of condolence can be left on the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML)’s website

New study: language single biggest barrier to cross-border mobility in Europe

One of the central tenets of the European Union is a free labour market which offers skilled individuals the mobility to move with demand. However, a new study shows that only 3% of EU citizens of working age live and work in a different EU country. One of the main reasons: the language trap.

LanguagesEspecially in today’s difficult economic times, many well-trained citizens from the countries hit the hardest by the financial crisis are looking to Germany to find employment. And Germany is in desperate need of skilled employees in a number of sectors, such as engineering, IT, and health care. However, German employers are very rarely willing to compromise when it comes to language skills, and few of the international job seekers have the German language skills required; instead, they all learnt English in school. And while “English is widely used in multi-national companies”, this is “rarely [the case] in the public sector or the small-to-medium sized enterprises that employ the bulk of the European labor force.”

To learn more about the study and current trends in labour mobility, read “Class of 2012: Yound Europeans trapped by language

Workshops on the History of Modern Foreign Language Education in UK and Europe

Funded by the AHRC Translating Cultures research network scheme, two workshops and an international conference will bring together researchers in the UK with an interest in the history of Modern Foreign Language education – historians, applied linguists, and MLE specialists – with colleagues already active in the field in Continental Europe, to chart the history of MFLTL in the UK and Europe, in order to inform future modern languages education policy and capacity development:

Workshop 1 – Modern Language Education Histories in Europe: English, French, German and Spanish across Borders (7-8 December 2012, University of Nottingham)

Workshop 2 – Modern Language Education Histories in Europe: How National Traditions Differ and Correspond (6-7 July 2013, University of Warwick)

(Text from the ahrc network history of mfl workshop flyer.)

For more information, please go to the project website.

European Profiling Grid (EPG) looking for partners

The European Profiling Grid (EPG) project, partly funded by the European Commission, is looking for language teachers, teacher trainers, and managers of a school or a language centre to take part in the Europe-wide field-testing of the EPG grid.

This instrument was designed for teachers working in Europe in language centres and schools to help improve the quality and effectiveness of language training. It is “a tool for mapping and assessing language teacher competencies internationally. It contains sets of descriptors organised over six stages of professional experience as a language teacher (novice to very experienced) and summarises the main competencies of language teachers and the background in training and experience that would be expected at each stage”.

To find out more, go to the project website.

The European Profiling Grid Project

From the latest British Council ELTeCS newsletter:

‘The European Profiling Grid aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of
language training by providing a reliable means of evaluating and
self-evaluating professional skills. It is being developed by a consortium of 11
European partners led by CIEP, (Centre International d’Études Pédagogiques),
France, in partnership with the British Council, EAQUALS, Goethe Institut,
Instituto Cervantes and OPTIMA, and is funded by the EU Commission through the
Lifelong Learning Programme.’

This link leads to the project website. They are asking language teachers, teacher trainers, managers of a school orlanguage centre to take part in the Europe-wide field-testing of the EPG grid – click here to sign up!

Language Rich Europe project launched in UK

Last week, the international project Language Rich Europe, co-funded by the European Commission and managed by the British Council, was officially launched in the UK.

It aims to investigate language education from a number of perspectives, including ways to motivate people to learn languages, how languages are taught and learnt at school, and what communities, business and the media can do to foster multilingualism.

For more information, please click here or go to the project website.