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Chapter 1

Why create a support website for language teachers?

This chapter sums up the reasons for creating a support website for language teachers.

Responding to changes in language teaching Support websites are tools to further language policy: they can support a reform, structure a network and/or promote innovative practices.

Supporting reform Language teacher support websites can be used to respond to a number of major transformations in language teaching. These include: • The introduction of the CEFRL* and the ELP* • Changes in teacher training curriculum* • Technological advances (ICT in education) • The introduction of language teaching in primary schools • The development of the teaching of ‘community’ languages • The introduction of new disciplines • A new direction in language policy Through the websites’ design it is possible to: • Establish a strategy of communication and explanation • Create a central reference area for language teachers • Put forward examples of good practices • Establish contacts between experts and language teachers by providing opportunities for exchange (forums, personalised advice, chat facilities, tutorials, etc.) Support websites must go beyond the role of a mere showcase or portal* so that they may create a dynamic encouraging members of the profession to reflect upon materials, tools and methods.


Practical guide to designing, running and improving support websites for language teachers

Example 1

PrimLangues, a website to support the introduction of language teaching in primary schools Name of the website URL Target audience Type of teaching Context

Date created Country Reach Commissioning body Coordinator Implementation

Links to classroom training Traffic

• PrimLangues • - Teachers and teaching assistants in primary schools • - Trainers Early language teaching • Introduction of language teaching in French primary schools (ages 6-10) Target level: A1 • Promotion of early language teaching in Europe to maintain linguistic diversity • Need to train huge numbers of primary teachers 2002 France National French Ministry of Education Centre International d’Etudes Pédagogiques (CIEP) A website was created for language teachers and teaching assistants. It provides resources* in 7 languages, self-study* tools, discussion forums and a section focusing on the pedagogy of virtual exchanges. The website runs training courses based on the resources for teachers and trainers. 35,000 monthly visits

Support websites are an important lever for implementing reforms in the area of language policy. Creating support websites will help disseminate reforms and put them into practice at local, national and European level.

Structuring networks A support website helps to bring together language teachers and structure the activities of their network. In particular, it is an easy means of publicising the network’s or the association’s events, it encourages virtual discussions, the sharing of information and/or documents, and helps create a community of practice*. This is a key dimension for association websites and communities. Language teachers are at home with using a website. The website links up the community’s different means of expression, such as forums, chat rooms and social networks.


Why create a support website for language teachers?

Example 2

The DaF-Netzwerk, a network of teachers and experts in teaching German as a foreign language Context

URL Date created Country Reach Commissioning bodies Coordinator Implementation

Links to classroom training Interactive facilities

The creation of a network of teachers and experts working in the area of German as a foreign language (Deutsch als Fremsprache - DaF), supported by the European Commission as part of the Comenius 3 project. 2003 European Transnational COMENIUS-C3 DAF-SÜDOST Network Institute for Communication and Culture (IKK) • This website was built by IKK, one of the network’s partners. IKK managed the project website for three years, using content supplied by the network’s output and teachers. The website made it possible to form a community of teachers geographically dispersed across south-east Europe. • The website continues to receive input from one of the members of the consortium. The network runs training sessions and shares the outcomes. Forum, specialised forums, mailing list, and members’ contributions to website content.

Support websites help structure the language teacher community into national and translational networks.

Promoting innovative practices Support websites can have a specific focus on promoting innovative practices, in particular practices that address the dual issue of ICT in education and languages. These thematic websites present good practices in the field of promoting language teaching, community languages and the applications of ICT in education.


Practical guide to designing, running and improving support websites for language teachers

Example 3

FLENET, a community of research promoting ICT in education URL Target audience Type of teaching Context Date created Country Reach Commissioning body Coordinator Implementation

Links to classroom training Students, teachers, researchers in French as a foreign language All types of teaching Research project 1999 France National University of Leon, in liaison with the national knowledge-promotion programme Department of Modern Philology, University of Léon The FLENET project aims to give students, teachers and academics the resources, methods and tools they need to understand and use the applications of the Internet in language teaching. The website is built around three main sections: 1. A section presenting the work conducted in the research laboratory. 2. A collaborative section (FLENET, RedIRIS). Academics, teachers and students can use a collaborative platform or a mailing list to discuss issues and offer information, documents and ideas on what the FLE (French as a foreign language) community can gain by using ICT in education. 3. The virtual campus. Two types of course are available here: modules in using the Internet and incorporating it into language lessons (for teachers and students), and language modules for students studying French. These courses, which are free and open to everyone, are aimed at encouraging the use of ICT, and especially the Internet, in language teaching. Virtual campus courses are always «hands on» and provide access to practical work. The University of Léon runs training courses

Support websites can be used to promote ICT in education and innovative projects, and assist language teachers with using them.

A visible, accessible, flexible tool A communication tool to serve language teaching Creating a support website for language teachers is an important political gesture of support for this community. It gives language teaching a foothold in the media landscape and provides a showcase for initiatives specifically designed for the community, such as training courses and exchange programmes. The creation of a website is part of the institution’s strategy of communication with language teachers. A website is also a means of addressing decision makers, opinion leaders and civil society in a bid to promote language teaching. [X 55] For teachers and decision makers alike, the website can be a source of documentation and communication media.


Why create a support website for language teachers?

Example 4

Languages Work, a website promoting language learning

URL Date created Country Reach Commissioning body Coordinator 2002 United Kingdom National UK Ministry of Education CILT (the National Centre for Languages)

Target audience Implementation

Language students, language teachers, decision makers. The CILT is the contact point for organising the European Day of Languages. It has set up a website dedicated to promoting language teaching with a view to maintaining diversity. The programme is aimed at drawing attention to the value of languages at work, at home and at school. The CILT runs information and training sessions on professional skills development.

Links to training

Creating a website enables an association to: • Show how active and dynamic its network is • Present its objectives and the services it provides for its members • Showcase its action • Make language teachers’ needs and expectations known in the media sphere Support websites make is possible to link up all of the actions taken by the stakeholders and institutions in charge of language learning and language teacher education.

A diverse target audience Websites are capable of addressing all those involved in language policy. The content can be tailored to suit different target audiences and reflect changes in language policy and advances in teaching theory. Content can be tailored to the target profile (teacher, trainer, school head, etc.). The many functionalities* available to users could also include the possibility of customising the different website zones for greater user autonomy*. 41


Practical guide to designing, running and improving support websites for language teachers

Example 5

Primary Languages: specific, targeted sections for the different stakeholders involved in language teaching URL Target audience Type of teaching Context Teachers, management staff, trainers. Early language teaching. The Primary Languages website was created to develop the use of ICT in education and assist with implementing language curricula (the KS2 Framework) in the UK.

Date created Country Reach Commissioning body Coordinator Implementation:

2006 United Kingdom National Ministry of Education National Centre for Languages (CILT) The website offers three zones: • The first zone, intended for teachers, provides good practices, assistance with implementing the new programmes and an example of how to use ICT in education, in the form of filmed lessons accompanied by a transcript in six languages. Users can reach the page in a number of ways, through the homepage or the customisable private zone: «My Training Zone». • The second zone is intended for school management staff and provides information on annual planning, needs analysis, training and assessment. • The third zone, called the «Training Zone», is a password-protected interactive training environment that puts the online user in direct contact with CILT tutors and strategic partners. This zone is designed as a virtual training centre for trainers and an e-forum to help ensure good-quality outcomes. The supplementary training materials and the video clips have been produced specifically for trainers. The CILT runs classroom training courses that complement its online offering.

Links to classroom training

Support websites must address all those interested in or involved in language teaching (teachers, trainers, decision makers, parents) and provide content tailored to their specific needs.

Helping build up a stock of online resources Creating support websites brings universal access to information a step closer and facilitates information dissemination. It is also a means of disseminating good-quality resources* and promoting linguistic diversity, by contributing to language teachers’ education and by adding to the number of language resources available online.1 4 16 54 61 The objective of support websites is to offer all language teachers support and help disseminate knowledge beyond national borders.


1.  UNESCO’s Initiative B@bel

Why create a support website for language teachers?

Example 6

Franc-parler, a resource and discussion website URL Target audience Type of teaching Context

Date created Country Reach Commissioning body Coordinator Content

Links to classroom training Traffic Teachers, trainers and learners. French as a foreign or second language. Franc-parler is a website designed for the worldwide community of French teachers. Its objectives are to inform teachers of the latest developments in the French language and the teaching profession, provide regularly-updated teaching resources* and practices, and facilitate exchanges between teachers the world over. 2000 France (editorial team) Global Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF) Centre international d’études pédagogiques (CIEP), Fédération internationale des professeurs de français (FIPF) Resources - The monthly special reports cover didactic or general-interest topics such as cinema, class projects, the CEFRL*, French-language comics, blogs, etc. Each special report contains a learning path* and teaching notes, along with interviews and original contributions from outside stakeholders. - The learning paths present a selection of websites, along with comments and an assessment of each. The aim is to give teachers the technical resources and skills they need to quickly find useful websites. - The «teaching notes» are original content produced by the Franc-parler team. The Classroom Activities are ready-to-use teaching resources. The different steps of the activities are described in detail, from the preparation phase to their use in the classroom. The self-study* section provides the pedagogical and technical keys to innovative activities such as creating a blog, podcasts, online «treasure hunts» for pupils, etc. The Teaching Notes train teachers to use a variety of free online utilities, for example by explaining how to save online resources, edit images, create audio files, generate interactive exercises, etc. The editorial team runs training sessions on the themes covered by the website (teaching methodology, using ICT in education, setting up social networks, etc.). Visitor traffic to these sections represents 67% of the total website traffic.

The bulk of the content of support websites is expected to remain accessible to everyone, even if some sections, content or functionalities* may be restricted to a smaller community and protected by a password. The restricted sections of association websites reserve the most popular services and resources* for their members. Support websites will need to encourage the production of copyright-free resources (Creative Commons licenses2), so that the content can be circulated more widely. 40 61 Support websites should be designed to last. Especially when websites are being overhauled, care should be taken to maintain gateways to the addresses of old content. Support websites for language teachers must provide a lasting means of sharing content and contributing to the linguistic diversity of online resources*.



Practical guide to designing, running and improving support websites for language teachers

A tool to develop new skills and expand exchanges in Europe Developing language teachers’ skills Support websites should make it easier for language teachers to acquire and update their skills and know-how as part of a process of lifelong learning. This approach is one of the recommendations put forward by the European Profile for Language Teacher Education and the European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages3 Support websites help in-service training programmes hone methodologies by developing and fostering intercultural skills and proficient use of ICT in education. Example 7

Emilangues: supporting CLIL teachers in their professional development The Emilangues website was created to support the professional development of teachers who teach a non-linguistic subject in a foreign language. The additional certification created in 2004 attests to proficiency in the target language*, as well as a knowledge of the CLIL* teaching system and methods.

Support websites aim to develop new skills in language teachers.

Developing mobility and exchanges in Europe As Europe has expanded and opened up to the rest of the world, teacher and pupil mobility has become an important issue for any education system. Support websites are intended to promote exchanges and facilitate mobility for both teachers and pupils. 42 43 44 46 47 48 49 50

Support websites must inform teachers in order to facilitate: • Pupil mobility • Teacher mobility • The sharing of good practices in this area • The organisation of teachers into a network


3.  Available at:

Why create a support website for language teachers?

Supporting virtual exchanges Training teachers in the pedagogy of virtual exchanges Goals • Encourage use of the new technological tools for promoting exchanges • Raise awareness among teachers of the exchange schemes already in existence at local, national and European level • Promote exchanges as a learning process for pupils. This includes all of the practices that enable pupils to learn languages with the help of ICT, by conducting projects with pupils in another country and with a different language and culture. The process is based on communication and the production of joint outcomes using a CEFRL* approach. • Introduce exchanges as a continuing education process for teachers. This means making exchange, cooperation and the sharing of practices part of teachers’ professional practice, with a view to developing their competences*, building new teaching tools and co-producing new resources*. 26 The link between exchange practices is something that has to be built in teachers’ professional environment. Its construction is a major issue - a sort of challenge for the years to come in the education field. Current situation • Few language teachers are involved: According to information gathered during training initiatives conducted in this area in various European countries, new types of correspondence and exchange projects have emerged and gained ground as a result of European programmes and the introduction of ICT into education. There are still relatively few of them, however. • Pedagogical exchanges are still a minority practice: The vast majority of teachers see exchanges not as a teaching activity in their own right, or as a way of teaching languages from an action-based angle, but rather as an activity designed to raise awareness of the foreign culture and provide contact with the country whose language they teach. Their requirements are therefore primarily of an organisational, logistic and financial nature. • A small minority of experienced teachers: These are the ones who already conduct exchange and cooperation projects, often as part of European programmes (eTwinning, Comenius, Leonardo da Vinci) or international programmes. These teachers seek to enrich their practices and improve their projects. They require rich, diversified resources which they can use independently. To draw up support strategies that will effectively help develop teaching practices based on exchange and cooperation, it is essential to take into account the varying degrees of competence that language teachers have acquired in this area.



Proficiency in several foreign languages and the acquisition of ICT skills is a strategic priority in Europe today. These new demands have transformed the way languages are taught across the European Union. It is set against this backdrop of profound change that the SAEL project came into being. This guide, one of the final outcomes of the project, contains practical suggestions for creating and updating websites designed to support the work of language teachers. – – – –

What is a language teacher support website? How are these websites designed, run and improved? Who is involved in this process and what are the main stages? Why does a support website represent real added value for the teaching community?

This guide sets out to provide practical answers to all these questions. It includes recommendations, examples of websites and good practices for setting up, improving and running support websites which match the requirements in your country, region or institution.


europees platform internationaliseren in onderwijs

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

SAEL chapter 1 : Why create a support websitefor language teachers?  
SAEL chapter 1 : Why create a support websitefor language teachers?  

This chapter sums up the reasons for creating a support website for language teachers.