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Language Learning in Higher Education

Journal of the European Confederation of Language Centres in Higher Education (CercleS)

Editor-in-Chief: Szczuka-Dorna, Liliana / O’Rourke, Breffni

CiteScore 2018: 0.24

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.130
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.290

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The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and the European Language Portfolio: Some history, a view of language learner autonomy, and some implications for language learning in higher education

David Little
Published Online: 2013-02-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cercles-2012-0001


This article is based on a plenary talk given at the CercleS seminar hosted by the University of Groningen in November 2011 to mark the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and the launch of the European Language Portfolio. The first part of the article summarizes the history of Council of Europe modern languages projects over the past 40 years, emphasizing the close relation between the organization's core values and the learner-centred ideology that underlies its work in language education. The second part focuses on learner autonomy, arguing that the CEFR's conceptualization of language learning as a variety of language use invites us to go beyond the view of learner autonomy as reflective self-management to one in which the user/learner's agency is channelled through the target language. The third part considers the implications of this view for language learning in higher education, with particular reference to the self-assessment function of the European Language Portfolio. And the conclusion suggests that CercleS has a key role to play in implementing and further developing the CEFR and the ELP.

Keywords: Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR); European Language Portfolio (ELP); learner autonomy; self-assessment; democratization of education

About the article

David Little

David Little is Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics emeritus and Fellow emeritus at Trinity College Dublin.

Centre for Language and Communication Studies, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Published Online: 2013-02-01

Published in Print: 2013-02-22

Citation Information: Language Learning in Higher Education, Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 1–16, ISSN (Online) 2191-6128, ISSN (Print) 2191-611X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cercles-2012-0001.

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©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.Get Permission

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