AbstractThe tool, and can be used to help

AbstractThe European Language Portfolio was developed through the Council of Europe in order to promote autonomous, life-long language learning in the European Union.  The portfolio has three required parts: a language passport, a language biography and a language dossier.  These parts help to promote learner autonomy, and make language learning clear and transparent.  They also give evidence of a language learner’s ability level and examples of their work.  This paper will show how the Portfolio was introduced into language classes at Kwassui.  The first part of the paper will describe the contents of the portfolio and its features, including the use of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.  It will then describe how the portfolio was first used at Kwassui, and the extent to which it helped the students.  The European Language Portfolio is a very useful language learning tool, and can be used to help language learners improve their language skills in whatever context they may happen to be.IntroductionThe European Language Portfolio (ELP) was developed in parallel with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) under the auspices of the Council of Europe during the 1990’s, and the portfolio itself was first published in 2001 (Little, Goullier & Hughes, 2011).  Like all modern language programmes undertaken by the Council of Europe the ELP has some fundamental aims and principles which are basic to the whole European idea, and which include such goals as “the deepening of mutual understanding among citizens in Europe” and “respect for diversity of cultures and way of life” (Schneider and Lenz, 2000).  The ELP also has more practical goals and some of those are to help the development of the language learner, increase pluralingualism, and importantly to develop independent learning. The ELP has three sections: a language passport, a language biography and a language dossier and these combine to develop learner autonomy and make language learning clear and transparent.  They also give evidence of a language learner’s ability level and examples of their work.  This paper will show how the ELP was introduced into the English curriculum at Kwassui.  First, it will describe the contents of the portfolio and its features, including the use of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).  Then it will describe how the portfolio was first used, and how much it benefitted the students. The version of the ELP that is being used at Kwassui is from the JALT FLPSIG; Framework & Language Portfolio SIG https://sites.google.com/site/flpsig/flp-sig-home/language-portfolio-for-japanese-university and was adapted for use at Kwassui by Dr Sergio Mazzarelli.Language PassportThe first part of the ELP is the language passport and contains the learner’s language learning experience. It includes the time they have spent learning the language, the different schools they may have attended and the different classes they may have taken in the language. It also shows the qualifications or diplomas they may have and the grades they managed to get. Basically the passport is a description of the learner’s language identity and shows what they have achieved in the target language.Language BiographyThe next section of the ELP is the biography and essentially this contains the learner’s intermediate targets, goals and progress toward the targets and goals. For example, the learner may need to achieve a specific score in the IELTS test in order to be able to go and study abroad. The language biography describes the language level the learner needs or wishes to achieve.Language DossierSimply, the language dossier contains examples of the learner’s work or language learning. For example it may contain essays that the learner wrote in order to practise for the IELTS test.What is the ELP for?There are two functions of the ELP. The first is the pedagogical function and the second is the reporting function. The pedagogical function has four parts. Firstly, it makes the learning process clear. By using the biography the students can set clear learning goals and targets and know exactly what they need to learn in order to achieve them. Second, it gives control of learning to the learner. The learner can decide on what to study and what to concentrate on. Next the ELP is not just for schools or universities and should not be discarded when formal education ends – it is a personal document that learners can use and refer to throughout their lives. Finally, it is self-motivating since learners decide for themselves what to learn and when to learn it.The second function of the ELP is the reporting function and this shows a prospective employer, for example, what the learner can do in a language either by looking at the passport or by looking at examples of the learner’s work in the dossier.What are the features of the ELP? The ELP has four features. The first is pluralinguilism, and is the idea of being able to communicate in multiple languages. This feature is probably more important in the European context, rather than in Japan, since the EU actively encourages the use of multiple languages. The second feature is the concept that the ELP does necessarily have to be used in formal educational contexts. Rather, it can be used at any time for any language learning experience. Next is the idea of self-assessment and the fact that learners can judge for themselves whether they have a achieved what they want to achieve in the language. This is connected with the final feature which is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), and this will be explained in more detail in the next section.Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)The idea of the CEFR is to have some sort of Pan-European system of standards for describing language ability so that a person who is certain level in a language can do specific things in that language. For example, a learner who is A2 level in Greek should be able to go into a bar and order a cup of coffee in Greek. Similarly, a learner who is A2 level in Italian can also go into a bar and order a cup of coffee in Italian. As can be seen in Figure 1 there are 6 levels in the CEFR.A1 (Beginner) A2 (Elementary)B1 (Intermediate) B2 (Upper Intermediate)C1 (Advanced) C2 (Mastery)Figure 1At each level there are specific language functions that a learner is expected to be able to do. For example, this is the general description of CEFR level A2 (Elementary):• Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).• Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.• Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.The CEFR is further divided into five specific language skills for each level:• Listening• Reading• Spoken Interaction• Spoken Production• WritingThere are descriptions for specific language functions within each skillset. For example, this is Spoken Interaction CEFR A2 (Elementary):• I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.Finally, the CEFR lists “Can do” descriptors that show exactly what kind of language functions a learner should know at each level. For example, the following “Can do” descriptors are for “Transactions to obtain goods and services” CEFR A2 (Elementary):• Can ask for and provide everyday goods and services.• Can get simple information about travel, use public transport: buses, trains, and taxis, ask and give directions, and buy tickets. • Can ask about things and make simple transactions in shops, post offices or banks. • Can give and receive information about quantities, numbers, prices, etc. Can make simple purchases by stating what is wanted and asking the price. • Can order a meal.Therefore, the CEFR gives specific details of the type of language functions a learner is expected to know to be proficient in the language at a particular level and this feature of the CEFR is especially relevant to the use of the ELP. By using the CEFR with the ELP learners can see what level they really are in each of the five language skills and what they need to learn to get to the next level. They can set themselves their own “can do” goals, and see for themselves if they have mastered these goals. Essentially, using the ELP in this way should help students become more aware of their current language ability and also more aware of what they need to learn in order to improve and get to the next level.Using the ELPThe ELP was introduced into the Kwassui English Language Programme in 2014 and was originally used in two classes (Academic English 1 and Academic Reading 1) in the first year with two groups – a high level group and a lower level group. The textbooks that were used were Pathways 1: listening, speaking and critical thinking (2013) for Academic English 1 and Pathways 1: reading, writing and critical thinking (2013) for Academic Reading 1. Using books from the same series helped with coordination among the teachers. Native English speaking teachers taught the Academic English 1 classes and Japanese teachers taught the Academic Reading 1 classes. The teachers of the Academic English classes were the coordinators for the ELP and were in charge of introducing the ELP and its concepts to the studentsDuring orientation, at the beginning of the academic year all first-year students were given the portfolio in a file and were helped to complete the passport and relevant parts of the biography. This was time consuming since, although the ELP at Kwassui is bi-lingual Japanese – English, many of the students had never really thought about or reflected on their language learning in the way required by the ELP. In Appendix I there are 2 example pages from the passport and the biography that were given to the students. In Academic English 1 the teachers concentrated on spoken production and spoken interaction and as part of spoken production the students had to give presentations whch are a feature of the Pathways 1 textbook. Therefore, one of the goals for class based on the CEFR B1 (Intermediate) “Can do” descriptor was “I can give a short and straightforward prepared presentation on a personal project or chosen literary work in a reasonably clear manner”. Over the course of the year we did five presentations: • First presentation: “I can give a straightforward prepared one-minute presentation about myself in a reasonably clear manner.”• Second presentation: “I can make a three-minute straightforward PowerPoint presentation about a holiday, celebration, or other activity that makes me feel good. I can present in English with reasonable clarity and without reading (just looking at notes)” • Third presentation: “I can give a reasonably clear and straightforward five-minute PowerPoint presentation about my past by speaking from notes (i.e. not reading from a script).”• Fourth presentation: “I can give a reasonably clear and straightforward five-minute PowerPoint presentation about healthy food by speaking from notes.”• Fifth presentation: “I can give a reasonably clear and straightforward group presentation about art and music education, speaking from notes for five minutes.”The students were given a target form from the ELP (Appendix II) which the students completed before and after each presentation. The teachers concentrated on the last section of the form and asked the students how they could improve for their next presentation. This was extremely effective since the students really did reflect on how they did in the presentations and on how they could improve.In Academic Reading I the ELP was used as a supplement to the textbook. It was used with graded readers and the Moodle reader module. With this students can choose a reader, read it and then be tested on their knowledge of the book through Moodle. The students gave themselves targets for how many words they could read in a term.Twice a term the teachers also had short interviews with the students to discuss the ELP and also encourage them to use it themselves by setting their own targets and goals. Lower level students needed help with this, but higher level students seemed to understand this, and by the end of the first term were making their own specific targets.DiscussionUsing the ELP certainly had a positive impact on the students since there is no doubt that using the target forms certainly helped motivate the students to improve. As a group it also seemed that they were more motivated than in previous years. Also, gradually for lower level learners, they seemed to understand the idea that they should be more responsible for their learning, and that they should learn the language for themselves, and not because a teacher tells them to.There one negative aspect of using the ELP in the way it has been done at Kwassui is that it can be time consuming depending on the number of students. At Kwassui the classes are small, so teachers can be more “hands on” with ELP. This is necessary at first since the students need time using the ELP and understanding the idea of learning by themselves. With larger classes it would be more difficult for the ELP to be used in the same way as it is used at Kwassui.Conclusion