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Mediation Tool

What possible challenges might we face? How might we address them?

Lack of support for teachers in view of:

- motivation
- time
- technical support
- funding
- lack of understanding from the authorities

Complementing the ECML publication European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages (EPOSTL), a set of tools is available to facilitate the implementation of the EPOSTL in teacher education, including the challenges faced and ways of overcoming them. In the first video, David Newby presents these tools, which can be found on the EPOSTL2 website.

An Irish participant in CEF-ESTIM (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages - level estimation grid for teachers) revealed that the main challenges included teachers' attitudes towards the CEFR in an exam dominated system which is not yet aligned to the CEFR, and lack of collaboration between teacher educators from different universities.
These had been addressed through the following: 
 (1) developing contacts between language teacher educators through the new national forum for languages (One Voice for languages) 
 (2) emphasising the advantages of the CEFR "can do" approach as complementary to the new national curricular emphasis on 'key skills'.
What is CEF-ESTIM? See here for a short video description.

Challenges in implementing DOTS (Developing Online Teaching Skills) in Bosnia-Herzegovina include:
Low level of ICT knowledge;
Lack of technical support (rooms, materials and skilled people, e.g. ICT technicians).

Suggestions made to address the problems: 
Involving ICT teachers in the project;
Convincing the principals about the usefulness of the projects for the whole school;
Presenting to the principals an effective way of how to equip the school;
Convincing the financing authority about the benefits of the project.

Some of the materials available on the website can support these actions.

The challenges of using EPOSTL (Using the European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages) in a teacher education programme in the Czech Republic can be found here (page 19).

Sometimes teachers are interested in developing a project in a context where they are the only ones convinced of its value. Here is an example of one such teacher of English in a school that was interested in developing portfolio approaches across the curriculum but was not using the ELP on a whole-school basis. The teacher interviewed was herself using the ELP, but she was an exception. She used „I can‟ checklists to make comparisons between English and German in classes where pupils were learning both languages. She identified a number of problems in the school’s use of portfolios, including lack of coordination and lack of training/support for teachers. She also mentioned that some of the older pupils could see no point in working with a portfolio because it had no official status and thus could not be used to support their progress from one educational level to the next. This ELP-WSU (The European Language Portfolio in whole-school usecase study from the Czech Republic showed how she managed to use part of the ELP whilst also raising some awareness of it in the school.

One challenge is shortage of funds, but this does not mean that nothing can be achieved; it may be that changes need to be more gradual, with small steps and over a longer period, and that partial success needs to be appreciated. In this case study from Iceland, the school’s application for funding to support its whole-school ELP project was rejected. It made sense to proceed on a voluntary basis, however, because there is a close connection between the ELP and the new curriculum. Also, teachers who had already worked with the ELP were keen to promote its use across the school. Using selected parts of the Icelandic ELP for learners in upper secondary education, the project had two principal aims: (i) to introduce the ELP to teachers who had not already worked with it, and (ii) to encourage teachers who were already familiar with the ELP to use it more extensively. In both cases the intention was to take small steps that over time would lead to full implementation of the ELP. Two teachers sought their students’ opinions on working with the ELP. Although a few students were unenthusiastic, most of them acknowledged the advantages of peer and self-assessment based on the ELP checklists. At the end of the reporting period the co-ordinator judged that the project had been a modest success and was confident that use of the ELP would continue. See Icelandic ELP-WSU (The European Language Portfolio in whole-school usecase study.

A similar challenge with regard to official funding was faced in this ELP-WSU (The European Language Portfolio in whole-school use) case study in Lithuania. Here alternative sources of funding were obtained. The project originally hoped to develop and pilot a version of the ELP for use in Lithuanian primary schools, involving teachers of English, German and French. When lack of funding made this impossible, the Lithuanian Association of Teachers of English (LAKMA) agreed to support the project in developing and piloting ELP-related approaches to the teaching of English at primary level. Project events were supported by Vilnius Pedagogical University. The project had three principal pedagogical aims: to foster the development of learner autonomy, to make learners aware of their plurilingual repertoires, and to explore the intercultural dimension of language learning. By the end of the reporting period the project had produced and piloted a range of portfolio activities for Grades 2–4, some hints for teachers, and an inventory of ‘I can’ descriptors. Project meetings allowed participating teachers to share their experience and discuss some of the practical questions posed by portfolio learning. See Lithuanian case study.