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Implementing the EPOSTL ( E uropean Po rtfolio for S tudent T eachers of L anguages) in Pre-service Teacher Education. Barbara Mehlmauer-Larcher [email protected] English Department , University of Vienna/Austria.

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Implementing the EPOSTL(European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages) in Pre-service Teacher Education

Barbara Mehlmauer-Larcher

[email protected]

English Department, University of Vienna/Austria

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

epostl e uropean po rtfolio for s tudent t eachers of l anguages
EPOSTL:(European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages)
  • Developed for the European Centre for Modern Languages/Council of Europe

by a team of teacher educators from 5 different countries

(Austria, Armenia, Norway, Poland, UK, led by David Newby together with Rebecca Allan, Anne-Brit Fenner, Barry Jones, Hanna Komorowska & Kristine Soghikyan)

  • Available in various European languages (English, German, French, Polish, etc)
  • Overall aim : harmonisingteacher education in Europe

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

the epostl in the european context
The EPOSTL in the European context

Language Learning

Language Teaching


Language Portfolio >

Tool for Reflection &


Common European

Frame of Reference >

Reference tool f.

teaching, learning &


European Profile for

Language Teacher

Education >

Reference tool f. teacher

education programmes


Tool for Reflection &


B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

epostl 3 main sections
EPOSTL: 3 main sections
  • 1) Personal statement section: help students to reflect on general questions of teaching
  • 2) Self-assessment section: list of > „can-do“ descriptors, e.g.

„I can evaluate and select meaningful speaking and interactional activities to encourage learners to express their opinions, identity , culture etc.“

  • 3) Dossier: document progress, record examples of work etc.

3 further sections:

        • Introduction
        • Glossary of terms
        • Index & Users‘ Guide


18. 09. 2008

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

organisation of the self assesment section source epostl p 6
Organisation of the self-assesment section(source: EPOSTL, p. 6)

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

epostl aims function 1
EPOSTL: Aims & Function [1]
  • Target groups: primarily student teachers, teachers, but also

teacher educators, curriculum designers, etc.

  • EPOSTL: general aims: to support the concept of

teacher & learner autonomy

  • EPOSTL: a tool for reflection,

dialogue & self-assessment

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

epostl aims function 2
EPOSTL: Aims & Function [2]
  • to assistin discussions between student teachers & teacher educators
  • to encourage reflection on competences to be attained and on the required underlying knowledge
  • to help students develop awareness of their strengths & weaknesses
  • to provide support during school placement & to assist in discussions with mentors (> systematic feedback, reflection, self-assessment)

(cf. Newby 2007)

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

epostl aims function 3
EPOSTL: Aims & Function[3]
  • EPOSTL: process and no „show case“ portfolio
  • EPOSTL: belongs to the [student] teacher, and is

no assessment or grading tool

  • Underlying principles: CLT, learner autonomy &

interdependence of language& culture


  • increase transparency ofeducation programmes
  • encourage a reflective mode in teacher education
  • aid comparison of teacher education programmes

(cf. Newby 2007)

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

Implementation of the EPOSTL [1]in pre-service teacher education at the English Department, University of Vienna / Austria

Overview of the TE Programme:

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

implementation of the epostl 2 overview of the methodology programme
Implementation of the EPOSTL [2]Overview of the methodology programme
  • 2 general introductory courses on ELT methodology/ EPOSTL
  • 4 courses on ELT methodology/ EPOSTL

pilot project: using the EPOSTL in the course accompanying the school placement phase

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

Pilot project: using the EPOSTL in the course accompanying the school placement phase (usually 4 parallel courses per semester)

beforethe school placement phase: introduction of the EPOSTL, working with selected descriptors

while/after school placement: working with selected & particularly relevant descriptors

after the school placement phase: using the EPOSTL as basis/spring board for the final reflective talk with the course leader/teacher educator

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

research project potentials of the epostl with regard to
Research Project:Potentials of the EPOSTL with regard to …

data collection

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

reflection some definitions
Reflection: some definitions

Dewey (1910): „…active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it, and the further conclusions to which it tends“

According to Dewey (1910) reflection is characterized as :

„[…] disciplined, conscious, explicit[…]“

Reframing(notion developed by Dewey): reflection enables the reframing of problems > leads to a change of perspectives and wider range of possible solutions (cf. Roberts 1999)

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

reflection and professional growth 1
Reflection and professional growth [1]

Reflection in the context of professionalism:

„It [critical reflection]) is a response to past experience and involves conscious recall, and examination of the experience as a basis for evaluation and decision making, and as a source for planning and action.“ (Bartlett 1990)

With regard to teaching and learning reflection is seen as:

„…self inquiry, and critical thinking […]as central for continuing professional growth […] help[ing] teachers move beyond a level where they are guided largely by impulse, intuition, or routine“

(Boud, Keogh, and Walker 1985)

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

reflection and professional growth 2
Reflection and professional growth [2]

Types of reflection:

a) retrospective, prospective, and innovative

b) monological, dialogical

(cf. Akbari 2007)

Reflection as a pre-condition of professionalism for:

> development of autonomy & self-assessment,

> mediation between theory and practice

(cf. Akbari 2007)

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

reflection preliminary results 1
Reflection: preliminary results [1]

Types of reflection:

prospective /retrospective

„ You can use the EPOSTL again and again, well, you can use it for planning…so if you want to hold a similar lesson again, for example, you can try to remember, right…, how was it when I first held this lesson ?“

monological/ dialogical

„I think, at the beginning, you should discuss things together with colleagues, I am sure later on you can work on your own on it [descriptors of the EPOSTL] and make your own entries… when you have become used to it [EPOSTL] , you can just use it yourself, that‘s no problem…but you can always use it as a springboard for discussions …“

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

reflection preliminary results 2
Reflection: preliminary results [2]

EPOSTL as a tool for structured reflection:

A) „… for my second subject we don‘t have anything like this [EPOSTL]... there, things are less structured... you just look and take notes...there is no structured reflection in such a way.“

B) „… well, it really is a kind of stimulusto think about various things and not just act in a kind of intuitive way, but have something to look at and be able to structure things. And then, in case something goes wrong you need not rely only on your intuition and react accordingly…“

C) „Also this kind of self-assessment is sometimes really helpful. There are always situations when I think, well, I haven‘t really thought about that, or... you know…I had to think carefully, did I take everything into consideration, ..ok... you know, it [EPOSTL] really made me think“.

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

reflection preliminary results 3
Reflection: preliminary results [3]

D)„… it [EPOSTL] takes, I think, this idea of reflection away from … we all sit in a circle and talk about what‘s just crossing our minds. It hasn’t got this kind of strange element of a therapeutic session where everybody is just talking about his or her emotions…because it actually forces you to think about, I don‘t know, for instance,… ‘challenging learners to their full potential‘ and not…‘how did I feel at the time‘.“

EPOSTL as a tool for self assessment & planning further professional development

„Well I don‘t know, for instance, it‘s also this reflection on how good am I at [teaching] speaking or writing. Somehow listening seems to be some kind of a feared opponent of mine, for whatever reason, I haven‘t quite got the hang of this […] Maybe, when I am in a good mood, I might attend a course on teaching listening…because it is a reasonable thing to do, isn‘t it?... it [EPOSTL] has an impact, definitely!“

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

further comments by student teachers
Further comments by student teachers


A) „I found filling in the descriptors a bit difficult because it‘s hard to assess yourself. I mean nobody got a 100% obviously, but it‘s difficult to find out where you really are.“

B) „Particularly at the beginning I found it extremely difficult to assess competences with the help of can-do-descroptors. I still feel I haven‘t got enough practical experience to do so.“

Final positive comment:

„Using the EPOSTL before, while and after teaching at school made me realise I was actually making some progress. I found this so motivating.“

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna

summary and outlook
Summary and outlook


    • challenges teacher students with regard to their self assessment capacity
    • helps chart progress
    • has amotivationalforce , helps initiate discussions
    • is a useful planning device for professional growth
    • supports a systematic approach to reflection and discussion

at our department we will…

  • continue to use the EPOSTLin our classes accompanying the school placement and intensify using the EPOSTLin other methodology classes
  • continue data collection regarding the use of the EPOSTL (student teachers & teacher educators)

B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna


for now enough of ...


B. Mehlmauer-Larcher/Univ. of Vienna