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Masaryk University Brno

The Faculty of Education

The Final Thesis

Brno 2006

Zuzana Jouklová

Masaryk University Brno

The Faculty of Education

The Department of English Language and Literature

The European Language Portfolio

The new tool for assessment and self-assessment of pupils.

The Final Thesis

Brno 2006

Supervisor : Written by :

Mgr.Naděžda Vojtková Zuzana Jouklová

Declaration :

I declare that I worked on my thesis on my own and that I used the sources mentioned in the bibliography.

Acknowledgement :

I would like to express my thanks to Mgr. Naděžda Vojtková for her kind help and valuable advice which she provided me as my supervisor.

Introduction 6

Theoretical Part

1. The European Language Portfolio 9

    1. Introducing the ELP 9

    2. Principles and guidelines 9

    3. ELP´s functions 11

    4. Common reference levels and descriptors 11

2. Motivation, Reflection and Learning how to learn 13

3. Evaluation, assessment and testing 15

3.1. The necessity of assessement 15

3.2 Traditional methods 16

3.3 Alternative assessment 16

3.4 Peer assessment 17

3.5 Self-assessment and the ELP 17

Practical part

4. Start with ELP with pupils at the age 11-15 21

    1. Introducing the ELP to the parents 22

    2. Introducing the ELP to the pupils 24

5. Miscellaneous forms of working with descriptors 27

5.1. Descriptors and textbooks 27

    1. Descriptors and authentic materials 30

    2. From descriptors to self-assessment and assessment 33

    3. Assessment approaches in the ELP 33

6. Conclusion 35

7. Bibliography 37

8. Appendix 1 – 4 39

9. Examples of practical work with the ELP 42


This bachelor thesis deals with The European Language Portfolio (ELP), a new scheme created by the Council of Europe for the purpose of learning languages in a more effective way. “Devised by the Council of Europe´s Modern Language Division, it was piloted in 15 Council of Europe member countries, and was launched during the European Year of Languages in 2001.“ (Puchta, Herbert. English in Mind, The new English course for teenagers. 16 Mar 2006. Cambridge University.

In the Czech Republic the ELP was introduced to language teachers six years ago by Mgr. Radka Perclová and Prof. David Little who worked out one of its four programmes, the ELP for learners aged 11 to 15. They also created the key document The European Language Portfolio: A Guide for Teachers and Teacher Trainers, Council of Europe:2001, which is found alongside the other ones on the official Council of Europe websites (

Since the time the ELP was introduced a lot of seminars about the ELP have been given and the main purposes have become more or less familiar to all language teachers. The situation among my collagues was very similar to that which Herbert Puchta describes in English in Mind “while many teachers have been quite enthusiastic about portfolio work with students, other colleagues felt worry that it might be just too much work.“ However, all teachers were aware of the fact that pupils needed new challenges and styles of learning, they should think more about modern teaching methods, about the students´ motivation and their own responsibility in the learning process.

I think that the ELP will become very useful if it is a part of a teaching programme because it brings students clear ideas about what and why they are learning . The advantages for students are clear because “if students understand that what they are doing in their language class is in line with an internationally recognised framework of communicative competencies, their learning becomes more meaningful“ analyses Puchta and adds “the Portfolio helps to make the students´ learning progress and process visible and noticeable. This means that students will be able to appreciate more what they are learning.“ The ELP simply shows students what they learn and why it is important for them, which is the best motivation. It also allows them to think about ways in which they can learn languages and they can realize what enables them to learn better and more effectively.

Using the ELP in the classroom should also bring some positive aspects for teachers. It can give them more specific information about the frame for language skills that should be complusory according the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. It can make them think more about the lessons, about the assessement and students´ self-assessement which can put partly a burden of responsibility on their shoulders. “If students have succesfully learnt to monitor their own learning process you are no longer solely responsible for the success of your teaching.“(Ibid) We as teachers become facilitators, consultants and advicers more than those who lead.. Our new attitude, creativity, enthusiasm and sensitivity will bring us self-confidence and improve our relationships with students.

Another fact that makes us think about changes in teaching foreign languages is the new system of education that brings obligatory competence in the language learning given by the Common European Framework. The ELP respects all these needs and it is usable for all schools and their new documents called The School Framed Educational Programme.

The main purpose of this work is to find the answer to the question if the ideas, recommendations and suggestions given in the ELP are applicable in real school life and if they really offer better way of learning and teaching languages. In other words, if the ELP can serve as an instrument of inovation and language knowledge reorientation and refreshement in the classroom. The special attention is paid to the rule of assessment and pupils´ self-assessment.

The thesis is divided into three parts: theoretical, practical and conclusion. In the theoretical part the basic information about the reasons for the ELP´s existence, its function, sections, principles and guidelines are given .The most important goals in achieving all the language skills framed in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages are also defined in this part as well as levels specification in the descriptors. The following topic of the Theoretical Part relates to the pupils´ motivation to learn, the ways of learning how to learn their reflection and self- reflection and finally it illustrates the methods of assessing learning including self- assessement and self-evaluation.

The practical part deals with my teaching experience in working with the European Language Portfolio for pupils from the age 9 to 15. The main intention of the practical part is to discuss beginnings of using it, describe various forms of working with descriptors including textbooks or authentic materials and illustrate teaching methods that should lead pupils to self-assessement and independent, conscious learning. I would like to mention not only the positive experience in working with the ELP but also some controversional aspects and opinions. This part is accompanied by some practical examples of pupils´ work with the European Language Portfolio.

In conclusion I would like to summarize my own experience with working with the ELP considering all the possible factors that can contribute to my assuptions. By coming up with the practice examples I would like to find the answer to the questions if all types of assessment can be use succesfully when teachers involve using the ELP in the lessons and if there are any other factors that the ELP can offer to the pupils in foreign language learning.

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