MEDIATION IN THE UPDATED COMMON EUROPEAN FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE FOR LANGUAGES: BRIDGING LINGUISTIC GAPS
This paper deals with the notion of mediation and specifically with the newly developed mediation descriptor scales which have been presented in the updated Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Teaching, Learning and Assessment (CEFR) (Council of Europe, 2018). Cross-language mediation skills, as a basic element of ones’ plurilingual competence, involve switching from one language to another, expressing oneself in one language and understanding a person speaking another, bringing the whole of one’s linguistic repertoire into play and simplifying or adapting input (North, 2016). This presentation defines the notion of ‘mediation’ (cf. Stathopoulou, 2015) and thoroughly discusses ways in which the newly developed mediation descriptors can be incorporated in the classroom in an effort to embrace multilingual approaches to the teaching and the assessment of languages.
The importance of being able to shuttle between languages for different communicative purposes was recognized in 2001 by the CEFR, which legitimized (written and oral) mediation. However, for mediation -a concept which has assumed importance with the increasing linguistic and cultural diversity of our societies, no validated descriptors were provided therein. 18 years later, however, the updated CEFR extends the notion of mediation, which in 2001 was narrowly defined and undeveloped. The primary aim of the project of the Education Policy Division of the Council of Europe, initiated in 2014, was the development of a set of new descriptors for mediation related to the Common Reference Levels. In fact, the outcome was The CEFR Companion Volume with New Descriptors which becomes useful in bridging linguistic gaps by proposing new mediation scales related to the parallel use of languages and language users’ willingness to act as interlingual mediators and their capacity to purposefully blend, embed and alternate codes.
Council of Europe (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Council of Europe (2017). CEFR Companion volume with New Descriptors. Available at: https://www.coe.int/en/web/common-european-framework-reference-languages
North, B. (2016). Developing CEFR Illustrative Descriptors of Aspects of Mediation. International Online Journal of Education and Teaching (IOJET), 3 (2), 132-140
Stathopoulou, M. (2015) Cross-Language Mediation in Foreign Language Teaching and Testing. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Biodata – Dr Maria Stathopoulou holds PhD from the Faculty of English Language and
Literature, University of Athens. Her doctoral thesis focused on translanguaging and cross language mediation as basic elements of her wider concern with multilingual education and her narrower concern with
multilingual testing. She has been a Research Fellow at the RceL, University of Athens, for the last 12 years. Since 2014, she has been working at the Hellenic Open University and the National Technical
University of Athens as an Adjunct Lecturer. From 2014-2017, she was a member of the authoring group of experts of the Council of Europe concerning the update of the CEFR. Her book «Cross-Language Mediation in
Foreign Language Teaching and Testing» (2015) has been published by Multilingual Matters. Her most recent book concerns the teaching of ESP in academic contexts.