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European Language Portfolio


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What is the European Language Portfolio (ELP)?

The European Language Portfolio, devised by the Council of Europe's Modern Languages Division and piloted in 15 Council of Europe member states between 1998 and 2000, has been launched throughout Europe during 2001, the European Year of Languages.

The ELP has three obligatory components:

  • A language passport, which summarizes the owner's linguistic identity, language learning achievement, and intercultural experience, and includes the owner's assessment of his/her own language competence according to the Council of Europe's Common Reference Levels;
  • A language biography, which is used to set intermediate learning goals, review progress, and record significant language learning and intercultural experiences;
  • A dossier, in which the owner collects samples of his/her work and evidence of his/her achievements in second/foreign language learning.

The Council of Europe has established a European Validation Committee, which meets twice a year to accredit ELP models submitted by competent authorities in member states and by international non-governmental organizations. In order to be accredited, ELP models must comply with the Principles and Guidelines approved by the Council of Europe.

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What is the purpose of the European Language Portfolio (ELP)?

What is the purpose of the European Language Portfolio (ELP)?

The ELP is designed to:

  • Encourage the lifelong learning of languages, to any level of proficiency
  • Make the learning process more transparent and to develop the learner's ability to assess his/her own competence
  • Facilitate mobility within Europe by providing a clear profile of the owner's language skills
  • Contribute to mutual understanding within Europe by promoting plurilingualism (the ability to communicate in two or more languages) and intercultural learning

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How is the European Language Portfolio (ELP) to be used?

Owners of all ages can use the ELP to:

  • Keep a record of all their language learning, whether it takes place inside or outside the educational system
  • Develop their capacity to plan, monitor and evaluate their own learning
  • Record significant intercultural experiences
  • Collect evidence of their language skills
  • Document their language learning achievements

Educational institutions and individual teachers can use the ELP to:

  • Describe their courses and certificates more clearly by relating them to the Council of Europe's common reference levels
  • Help learners to become self-managing
  • Make it easier for learners to show what they can do in languages when they move from one educational level or institution to another

Employers can use the ELP

  • Inform themselves about the language skills of actual or potential employees
  • Define the language skills that are required for a particular job

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The European Language Portfolio (ELP) and the Council of Europe's common reference levels

The language passport requires the owner to assess his or her own language skills according to the Council of Europe's common reference levels, which are elaborated in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Cambridge University Press, 2001).

There are six levels, as follows:

  • A1 - Breakthrough
  • A2 - Waystage
  • B1 - Threshold
  • B2 - Vantage
  • C1 - Effective Operational Proficiency
  • C2 - Mastery

The self-assessment grid in the language passport summarizes language proficiency at these six levels in relation to five skills: listening, reading, spoken interaction, spoken production, writing.

Self-assessment grid:

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Irish European Language Portfolio (ELP) projects and the Council of Europe

David Little ( is the person nominated by the Department of Education and Science to liaise between Irish ELP projects and the Modern Languages Division of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

He is co-author (with Radka Perclová, Faculty of Education, Charles University, Prague) of a guide to the ELP for teachers and teacher trainers. English and French versions of the guide are available from the Language Policy Division of the Council of Europe and may be downloaded from the Council of Europe's ELP web site. He is currently a consultant to the European Validation Committee and co-ordinator of a project in teacher training for the ELP that is part of the medium-term programme (2004–07) of the European Centre for Modern Languages, Graz.

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European Language Portfolio (ELP) models developed in Ireland

European Language Portfolio (ELP) models developed in Ireland

To date the European Validation Committee has accredited six ELP models developed in Ireland:

  • 10.2001: ELP for language learners at post-primary level
    This ELP was developed as the main dissemination instrument of the CLCS Learner Autonomy Project (1997–2001). It comprises (i) a simple “process” language passport, (ii) a detailed language biography built around goal-setting and self-assessment checklists that express the communicative goals of the Junior and Leaving Certificate curricula in terms of the CEF's first four Common Reference Levels (A1 breakthrough , A2 waystage , B1 threshold, B2 vantage ), and (iii) a dossier that accommodates work in progress as well as completed projects. There is also a trilingual (Irish, English, French) version of the standard adult passport that students can complete at the end of schooling, as well as a handbook for teachers. The languages of presentation are Irish and English, while the languages of process are Irish, French, German, Spanish and Italian. In other words, basic information and explanations are given bilingually, pages that invite reflection on the learning of a particular language or experience of its culture have rubrics in all five curriculum languages, and the checklists are provided separately for each curriculum language. The aim is to encourage learners to use their target language(s) as much as possible. This ELP is available from Authentik, 27 Westland Square, Dublin 2.
  • 11.2001 and 12.2001: ELPs for newcomers learning English as a second language in primary and post-primary schools
    These ELPs were developed by Integrate Ireland Language and Training as one of two basic supports for teachers of English as a second language in primary and post-primary schools. The other support at each level is a set of English language proficiency benchmarks that interpret the first three of the CEF's Common Reference Levels (A1 breakthrough , A2 waystage , B1 threshold ) in terms of the language that newcomers need in order to access English-medium education. The self-assessment checklists that are central to the language biography in both models are derived from the benchmarks. Since the benchmarks and the first versions of these ELPs were launched in September 2000, IILT has developed a substantial Language Training Manual to help teachers assess their learners on entry to the school, monitor their progress and record their achievement, together with learning materials of various kinds that learners can keep in the dossier section of their ELP. To date more than 5,000 copies of these ELPs have been distributed. Both ELPs and benchmarks can be downloaded from IILT's website.
  • 13.2001a and 13.2001b: ELPs for adult newcomers (a) who are newly arrived in Ireland with little or no proficiency in English and (b) who have already spent some time here and/or have some proficiency in English
    These ELPs, also developed by IILT, share the same accreditation number because (b) is continuous with (a). They were designed with two learner levels especially in mind: Reception 1, which caters for newcomers who have little or no English and perhaps little or no education in their mother tongue; and Reception 2, which caters for newcomers who already have some proficiency in English and are literate in their mother tongue. Both models have a simple “process” passport, but learners completing their language training with IILT also receive the trilingual (Irish, English, French) version of the standard adult passport. To date these ELPs have been used with upwards of 1,000 learners in IILT's full-time English courses for adults with refugee status; 2,750 copies have been distributed for use in English language courses for asylum seekers organized by VECs and voluntary organizations; and the Reception 1 model has been translated into Portuguese and published in an edition of 10,000 copies to support the teaching of Portuguese as a second language. These ELPs also served as the initial inspiration for the Milestone ELP (37.2002), which was developed collaboratively by IILT and four other organizations responsible for teaching the language of the host community to migrants, in Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Both ELPs can be downloaded from IILT's website:; the Milestone ELP is available from the Milestone website.
  • 14.2001: ELP for adult newcomers preparing for mainstream vocational training and employment
    The last of IILT's ELPs is aimed at adult newcomers whose proficiency in English has brought them to the threshold of mainstream vocational training and employment. It is mostly used in the full-time pre-vocational English courses that IILT provides in FÁS Training Centres in Baldoyle, Tallaght and Jervis Street, Dublin. Like the Reception 1 and Reception 2 ELPs, this model has a “process” passport, and the trilingual version of the standard adult passport is again presented to learners when they complete their language training. This ELP is also downloadable from the from IILT website.
  • 29.2002: CercleS ELP for use in higher education
    This ELP is distributed by CercleS (European Confederation of Language Centres in Higher Education). The “canonical” version is bilingual in English and French and was developed in CLCS. It is aimed at university learners at all proficiency levels: the goal-setting and self-assessment checklists in the language biography cover all six Common Reference Levels, from A1 to C2. In due course this ELP is likely to be translated into more than 20 other languages. For more information see also the CercleS website.