Policy Papers

Policy papers connect research with policy through focusing on a specific piece of research and explaining its relevance for policy. The link to policy can range from pointing out conclusions and lessons for practice through to discussion of existing policies and practices and formulation of policy recommendations. In all cases the emphasis is on providing research evidence for criticising, endorsing or proposing a policy.

Policy review: The role of assessment in European language policy - a historical overview

  • European language policy is led by two intergovernmental institutions: the Council of Europe and the European Union (EU). European language policy over the past 40 years involves three differentiated periods.
  • The first one spans from the late 1980s throughout the 1990s, when assessment was mainly seen as part of wider language education initiatives funded and developed by the Council of Europe and the EU. This period culminates in the early 2000s with the launch of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the establishment of the EU’s goal of ‘mother tongue + 2’.
  • In 2001, the Council of Europe and the EU joined forces to celebrate for the first time the European Day of Languages (EDL), which has been celebrated annually ever since. This marked the beginning of more intense cooperation between these two institutions.
  • The second period is marked by the need to measure progress in the development of language competences, with language assessment as the central instrument for policy making.
  • Between 2008–2011, the European Survey on Language Competences (ESLC) was conducted to collect data towards the EU’s indicator on language competences.
  • The third period starts in late 2015, with the EU moving towards closer cooperation with Member States to promote integrated approaches to learning, teaching and assessment not only in education, but also across a variety of policy fields, such as employment or social integration.
  • Rather than regularly repeating the ESLC, as initially planned, and given the difficulty of comparing results from national exams, in September 2015 the EU shifted the policy focus towards integrated approaches to learning, teaching and assessment.
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