Foreign language competences in Europe

Year: 2012

Author: Leban, Tina Rutar, Pizorn, Karment, Mlekuz, Ana, Perse, Tina Vrsnik

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Learning and teaching foreign languages is becoming more important every day not only for countries with less widely spoken languages but also for countries which languages dominate and guide the world's economy, science, research and trading. The European Survey on Language Competences (ESLC) was established to provide participating countries with comparative data on foreign language competence and insights into good practice in language learning. Advisory Board comprising representatives of all EU Member States and the Council of Europe provided strong support for the European Commission throughout the process of developing and implementing the survey. Fourteen European countries took part in the survey.

In 2005 the European Commission outlined a detailed strategic approach for the ESLC based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). CEFR provides a common basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses, curriculum guidelines, examinations, textbooks, etc. across Europe. It describes in a comprehensive way what language learners have to learn to do in order to use a language for communication and what knowledge and skills they have to develop. The description also covers the cultural context in which language is set. The Framework de?nes levels of pro?ciency which allow learners' progress to be measured at each stage of learning and on a life-long basis.

Students (in the last year of lower secondary education ISCED2 or the second year of upper secondary education ISCED3) were tested in the two most widely taught foreign languages in their country chosen from the five tested languages: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.  Each sampled student was tested in one language only. The language tests covered Listening, Reading and Writing Language Skills. Each student was assessed in two of these three skills. Each student also completed a Questionnaire about his home and school environment regarding foreign languages. The data from these questionnaires serve to identify environmental factors that have the largest effects on foreign language skills.

For the purposes of this paper different statistical analyses were conducted on the ESLC 2011 Databases. The presented findings and conclusions are based on correlation and regression analyses in R (The R Project in Statistical Computing) and SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences).