We share ALTE’s vision on the need to make the connections between learning and assessment – and between research, policy and practice.
Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (EU)
ALTE promotes and facilitates platforms where synergies can emerge and develop over time - synergies between language learning, teaching and assessment, but also between research, policy and practice, and across geographical territories and fields of expertise.
By bringing together the different actors in language education, ALTE encourages a holistic and collaborative approach to addressing current issues. In turn, this approach helps connect experts and fields that would otherwise remain isolated, and maximises the impact of their work around the world.
Linking research, policy and practice
ALTE has a long track record facilitating dialogue between policy-makers, researchers and practioners.
ALTE has been collaborating with the Council of Europe and its Language Policy Unit since the 1990s, and contributed importantly towards the development of the Common European Framework for Reference (CEFR). In 2003, ALTE gained Participatory Status as an International Non-Governmental Organisation (INGO) with the Council of Europe, and in 2010 joined the newly-created Professional Network Forum on Language Education and signed a cooperation agreement with the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML). ALTE has developed several publications on behalf of the Council of Europe, such as the Manual for Language Test Development and Examining and the Language tests for access, integration and citizenship. Collaboration is still very active, particularly on issues related to assessing migrants' language competencies, as is evidenced by the LAMI SIG's co-operation on a survey about language policies and language requirements for migrants which will take place over the next year, with final results and report due by the end of March 2019.
ALTE has also been a key player in the EU's strategy to promote multilingualism. In 2012, a consortium of ALTE members delivered the European Survey on Language Competences for the European Commission, which measured 15-year-olds' competences in foreign languages across Europe. ALTE was also a member of the European Commission's Civil Society Platform for Multilingualism, and regularly participates in meetings and conferences where ALTE experts work with decision-makers from across the EU to help inform further policy developments in language education. The European Commission has also contributed greatly to ALTE events, including the address that Tibor Navracsics, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, gave at ALTE's 2016 European Day of Languages event at the European Parliament on the importance of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in Europe.
ALTE has been involved in a number of other projects connected with linking research, policy and practice. The 2007 Transvalp project, lead by AFPA, France, suggested 'Vocational Linguistic Competences' (Compétences Linguistiques
Professionnelles), which are can do descriptors linking job-related linguistic tasks to the Common European Framework. The result is a set of detailed descriptors of the specific linguistic tasks within a given job, correlated with an identified CEF level. This lead to job-specific language test development for vocational qualifications - ensuring candidates are in full possession of the necessary language skills to enter a given profession.
Linking language learning, teaching and assessment
ALTE defends an integrated view of language learning where teaching and assessment play key roles for the successful development of language competencies. If misused, tests can become the goal of language learning and teaching, and far too often also barriers for academic, personal and professional development (for example, when they are used for university access or citizenship). ALTE defends the fair use of language exams to help students progress throughout the learning ladder, ensuring the positive impact of assessment on learning.
Linking experts across technical fields and geographical territories
ALTE creates platforms where experts from different fields and parts of the world can discuss common challenges and best practices in language education. The last ALTE international conference welcomed delegates from over 40 countries, and included presentations from experts in socio-linguistic inclusion, sign language testing and machine learning.