From Content to Competency: Challenges Facing Higher Education Language Teaching in Europe
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The Bologna Process has accelerated the drive for a more competency-based approach to the definition of learning outcomes in all sectors of higher education, including language teaching. Traditionally, language learning was viewed in terms of the assimilation of a certain aggregation of content. At present, with languages assuming a rising profile in the academic programme of students of non-linguistic disciplines, there is an urgent need to define learning outcomes in terms of pragmatically relevant competencies. This is a reflection of the fact that, in the increasingly multilingual international context in which students and graduates are required to operate, practical language skills are crucial. The challenge facing language educators is thus to define what students will be able to do in the target language in a range of social, academic and professional contexts. The Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) offers language educators a precious tool in responding to this challenge. The chapter surveys the need for a competency-based approach to goal-setting in higher education language teaching and, on this basis, examines the way in which the CEFR can be used to guide goal-setting, course development and evaluation.
KeywordsHigh Education European Union Language Policy Language Learning Language Teaching
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