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Comparing language learning and proficiency across Europe

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ewa Illakowicz.

This presentation will introduce and discuss the European Survey on Language Competences (ESLC) which is an EU initiative scheduled for February to March 2011. Approximately 50,000 students in over 2,000 schools across 14 European countries will participate in the survey which will test and compare proficiency in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The survey derives from EU policy objectives such as Barcelona and Lisbon where further action was called for to improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from an early age. This survey will act as one measure of progress towards this goal by providing information on the general level of foreign language knowledge of students in participating countries.

Clearly, to measure and compare language proficiency levels in school settings across Europe is quite a challenge. Languages are introduced at very different ages, taught with differing duration and intensity, and as compulsory or optional subjects. Exposure to languages outside school varies, as does the impact of the culture which the language represents. Meaningful comparisons will therefore not be straightforward, and will be based on two kinds of data: from the language tests and from questionnaires administered at student, teacher, school head and country level. The questionnaires will investigate how educational outcomes relate to malleable processes (such as age of introduction and teaching methods) and antecedent or contextual conditions (such as socio-economic status)

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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