The practice of teaching a foreign language in primary schools in Italy was first officially provided for by a decree in 1985, but it was only in 1991 that the figure of the Foreign Language (FL) teacher was actually defined. The issue at that stage was how to select and train the prospective L2 teachers, and so in-service courses were organised to provide these teachers with the linguistic and methodological know-how needed for the new professional role they were to play. At the time, the autonomy of single schools was encouraged and courses were managed locally by several education institutions cooperating on the project.
Since then English has become the compulsory language to be taught in primary schools and the final objective of the teacher training courses has been identified as level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). This has led to the need for a different kind of assessment, which has evolved from tests devised by the teacher trainers themselves in the early courses, to internationally recognised certificates (Cambridge ESOL Preliminary English Test PET), and finally to a more specific certificate devised by test designers at Italian University Language Centres, now involved in the project.
This article aims to describe how teacher training and assessment have changed in Parma, and illustrate how the current Certificate of English for Primary school Teachers (CEPT), devised by the Language Centre of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and the Language Centre of the University of Parma, has developed into a regional project, on the basis of a Teacher Profile which takes into account the CEFR, the European Language Portfolio (ELP), the Italian school system and its requirements, the needs of children learning English as a foreign language, and the needs of future teachers of English attending an in-service course.
© by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston