Please note: These definitions relate to this specific project. The same terms may be defined differently elsewhere.
Assessment is the purposeful gathering of data on student learning for an appropriate administrative or pedagogical purpose. Some assessments are diagnostic and/or formative, aimed at tuning adaptive teaching strategies or offering supportive feedback on written assignments. More formal assessment is likely to be periodic perhaps in the form of an examination or a standardized test. Testing can either be norm – referenced (ranking students) or criterion-referenced (assessing against benchmarks). The purposes of assessment vary, but will include feedback on assignments, verifying learning achievements, meeting certification needs, and ‘gate-keeping’ -- managing the progress of individuals through the system. Assessment cannot, therefore, be a politically or morally neutral activity.
“The acronyms BICS and CALP refer to a distinction introduced by Cummins (1979) between basic interpersonal communicative skills and cognitive academic language proficiency. The distinction was intended to draw attention to the very different time periods typically required by immigrant children to acquire conversational fluency in their second language as compared to grade-appropriate academic proficiency in that language. Conversational fluency is often acquired to a functional level within about two years of initial exposure to the second language whereas at least five years is usually required to catch up to native speakers in academic aspects of the second language.”
Code switching / Code mixing
“Code switching (or code mixing) is a phenomenon linked to the concurrent use of more than one language or language variety. It occurs when a multilingual person shifts between one language or language variety and another, for instance from German to English, or from a formal to a casual register. Such switches, manifested syntactically and phonologically, are used to serve communicative purposes. The multilingual resources involved can be influenced by the social.”
Content and language integrated learning
“Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) occurs when ‘subject’ teaching and learning (e.g. in Physics, Geography or Integrated Humanities) takes place concurrently with language teaching, particularly with respect to a foreign language. In English Language Teaching (ELT), forms of CLIL have previously been known as ‘content-based instruction’, 'English across the curriculum' and 'bilingual education.”
First language (L1)
“First language: language variety(ies) acquired in early childhood (approximately before the age of two or three years) in which the human language faculty was first acquired. This term is preferred to mother tongue, which is often inaccurate as the first language is not necessarily that of the mother alone.”
“A genre is a culturally determined way of getting things done, with patterns that can be predicted, to varying degrees, by members of a particular culture. It is a social activity that has a purpose, is enacted through stages and is realised through language. In terms of the school subjects, the genres are the ‘practices’ (actions combined with visual and verbal texts) that the teacher and students engage in.” (Polias 2006: 49).
Polias J. (2006), “Assessing learning: a language-based approach”, in Mikael Olofsson (ed.), Symposium 2006, Nationellt Centrum för SFI, HLS, Stockholm, Sweden.
« Language awareness refers to the kind of knowing when we step back from the direct experience of using language and develop a systematic meta-cognition concerning its codes and conventions, in short how language „works‟. Although at one level this consists of explicit know-ledge about language as an apparatus both in everyday life and specific social contexts, it also supports critical deconstruction of texts (i.e. facilitates rhetorical criticism) enabling the learner to see through language that manipulates or discriminates ».
Language learning strategies
“Foreign or second language (L2) learning strategies are specific actions, behaviors, steps, or techniques students use -- often consciously -- to improve their progress in apprehending, internalizing, and using the L2.”
Oxford R.L. (1990), Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know, Heinle & Heinle, Boston.
Language of schooling / Language of instruction
“From a functional linguistic perspective, the language of schooling is a special case of the interpenetration of language and social context. It can differ significantly from the everyday language of the student (see CALP) and this gap could become particularly problematic for language minority students whose language repertoire may need to be extended (…).”
Language portfolio / The European language portfolio
“The European Language Portfolio was ‘launched as a tool to support the development of plurilingualism and multiculturalism. Follow-up projects were dedicated to training teachers to use the portfolio as an instrument for monitoring language development in individual learners in formal and non-formal settings, but also to record and document progress in language learning and cultural experiences in general.”
“‘Languaging’ occurs when plurilingual individuals make flexible use all the linguistic resources they have in different ‘languages’ to communicate with one another, without strict adherence to the conventions of any particular language in their repertoire.”
“Literacy is control of secondary discourses and uses of language” (Goldoni Francis 2008: p. 70; quoting Gee 1989), and “being literate in a wide range of private and public discourses and contexts is closely related to the notion of advancedness in a foreign language” (Goldoni 2008: p. 70).
Goldoni F. (2008), “Designing a foreign language curriculum in postsecondary education drawing from the multiliteracy, functionalist and genre-based approaches”, Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Vol. 5, pp. 63-85.
Majority language / Language of schooling
“The first language(s) of the majority of the population in (a defined region of) a country” – in many cases this/these will also be the national/official language(s) of the state or a region.
Multilingual education aims at including pupils with many language backgrounds in one education system. Students shall have the possibility to develop their multilingualism, and not be forced in abandoning their mother tongue in favour for a majority language. As the Unesco points out, multilingual education can be necessary in very different situations: on the one hand there are many regions with the existence of many language groups that share education facilities, on the other hand many (especially urban) areas experience the effects of globalisation and where schools have to face the reality of sometimes up to 30 different languages in a classroom (Education in a multilingual world. UNESCO education position paper, 2003, p. 13).
Multilingual literacies / Transformative multiliteracies pedagogy
“Cummins has proposed the model of "Transformative Multiliteracies Pedagogy (TMP)" (Cummins, 2006) as an educational approach to help students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CLD) to use their knowledge in their language spoken at home in order to improve their production in the target language (of schooling). Cummins describes the TMP in five basic principles. This is to promote:
- The image of the learner as being intelligent, imaginative and with language resources.
- The use of knowledge and linguistic and cultural resources of students and their communities.
- The cognitive engagement and personal investment of each student.
- Opportunities to allow students to build their knowledge, create literary and artistic works, and act on social realities through dialogue and critically.
- The use of information technology and communication (ICT) as support for the construction of knowledge and literary and artistic works and the presentation of their work to various audiences through the creation of texts promote the development of multicultural identities ("identity texts").
The production of "identity texts" (identity documents) is central to the implementation of TMP. The projects that allow students to invest all their cultural and linguistic resources, function as a mirror reflecting the image of the pupil positively.”
Plurilingual and pluricultural competencies
“Plurilingual and pluricultural competence refers to the ability to use languages for the purposes of communication and to take part in intercultural interaction, where a person, viewed as a social agent has proficiency, of varying degrees, in several languages and experience of several cultures. This is not seen as the superposition or juxtaposition of distinct competences, but rather as the existence of a complex or even composite competence on which the user may draw.
The customary approach is to present learning a foreign language as an addition, in a compartmentalised way, of a competence to communicate in a foreign language to the competence to communicate in the mother tongue. The concept of plurilingual and pluricultural competence tends to:
- move away from the supposed balanced dichotomy established by the customary L1/L2 pairing by stressing plurilingualism where bilingualism is just one particular case;
- consider that a given individual does not have a collection of distinct and separate competences to communicate depending on the languages he/she knows, but rather a plurilingual and pluricultural competence encompassing the full range of the languages available to him/her;
- stress the pluricultural dimensions of this multiple competence but without necessarily suggesting links between the development of abilities concerned with relating to other cultures and the development of linguistic communicative proficiency.”
Council of Europe (2001), Common European framework of reference for languages: Learning, teaching, assessment
, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 168, available at https://rm.coe.int/1680459f97
“Plurilingual education: manner of teaching, not necessarily restricted to language teaching, which aims to raise awareness of each individual’s language repertoire, to emphasize its worth and to extend this repertoire by teaching lesser used or unfamiliar languages. Plurilingual education also aims to increase understanding of the social and cultural value of linguistic diversity in order to ensure linguistic goodwill and to develop intercultural competence [...].” (Guide for the development of language education policies in Europe from linguistic diversity to plurilingual education – Main version, p. 116).
Beacco Jean-Claude, Byram Michael (2007), From linguistic diversity to plurilingual education – Guide for the development of language education policies in Europe – Main version, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, p. 116, available at www.coe.int/en/web/language-policy/from-linguistic-diversity-to-plurilingual-education-guide-for-the-development-of-language-education-policies-in-europe
Aalto Eija, Abel Andrea, Atanasoska Tatjana, Boeckmann Klaus-Börge, Lamb Terry (2011), Promoting plurilingualism – Majority language in multilingual settings
, Resources – Glossary, Council of Europe (European Centre for Modern Languages), Graz, available at https://www.ecml.at/ECML-Programme/Programme2008-2011/Majoritylanguageinmultilingualsettings/Resources/tabid/5453/language/en-GB/Default.aspx
Plurilingualism is a term used by Council of Europe / EU meaning individuals with the capacity to use more than one language for communication; it is different from multilingualism in that the latter refers to a situation where several languages and registers are concurrently used by different groups in a society. Plurilingualism involves a paradigm shift away from segregated languages development towards encouraging students to “develop a linguistic repertoire in which all linguistic abilities have a place”.
Scaffolding / Bilingual scaffolding
“The term ‘scaffolding’, as the metaphor implies, refers to structural components in teaching that support learning by offering transitional dependence (Wood, Bruner and Ross, 1976). It has conceptual links to Vygotsky’s ‘zone of proximal development’, a site where it has a particular usefulness. When the teaching of language is integrated with the teaching of content two opportunities for scaffolding coexist (Gibbons, 2002). Bilingual scaffolding refers to the use of two or more languages in any teaching activities in bilingual classrooms that support learning.”
European core curriculum for inclusive academic language Teaching, 2008, p. 53.
Gibbons P. (2002), Scaffolding language, scaffolding learning – Teaching second language learners in the mainstream classroom, Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH.
Wood D. J., Bruner J. S. & Ross G. (1976), The role of tutoring in problem solving, Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology , 17(2), pp. 89-100.
Second language / Additional language (SL / AL)
If we take the example of English as a second or additional language, “In the language education literature this terms tends to be used to refer to the use and teaching and learning of the English language in three contexts: (a) English for immigrant groups and linguistic minority communities in English-speaking countries who may speak their mother tongue at home in their local communities, but use English at school and at work; (b) English when it is widely used within the country but not the first language of the bulk of the population, e.g. in India: and (c) English used by speakers whose first language is not English.”
Second language acquisition
The concept refers to the acquisition of a second/additional language or the academic study of such processes (…). The study of second language acquisition encompasses basic and applied work on how second language proficiency is gained or lost by children and adults, whether learning naturalistically or with the aid of formal instruction, as individuals or in groups, in foreign, second language, or lingua franca settings (e.g. Doughty & Long, 2005).
Doughty C & Long M. H (2010), The handbook of second language acquisition, Wiley-Blackwell.