ECMLProject A.2 (8/2005)
Whole-School Language Profiles and Policies

Antoinette Camilleri Grima


This  is  a  model  for  gathering data  relevant  to  the  development  of  a  school language profile.  Its aim is to draw attention to some details that might otherwise be overlooked.  At the same time it is intended to allow for comparison between schools.   Having a school language profile is seen as an initial step to developing a whole-school language policy.   Having a means  of  developing  a  whole-school  profile  is  one  way  of  declaring  "a  policy  about policy  making"  (Corson  1990:62),  allowing  for  transparency  and  giving  cohesion  and purpose to the school"s language development activity.  This blueprint is based on the data generated for Workshop A.2 "Whole School Language Profiles and Policies/ENSEMBLE" (ECML, 8/2005), and on the Guide for the Development Language Education Policies in Europe (Beacco and Byram, 2003, Council of Europe).

The items listed in the left-hand columns are intended as guidelines, and point to those issues which bear upon the school"s language profile.  To complete the profile fill in all the relevant details in the right-hand columns.

A.  General Information
Name of School
Location Address & contact numbers, e-mail  
Type of school (e.g.state, religious, single sex or co-educational)  
Average number of hours in a schoolday  
Number of school holidays  
Average number of schooldays in a year  
School autonomy (To what  extent  and  in  which areas is  the school autonomous?)  
School budget
(How is the school funded, what amount is available for research and development?)
School development planning
(How is it carriedout?
Information relevant  to  school leadership and decisionmaking processes  
Information relating to recruitment of teaching staff (Guide sections 5.4.3 and 6.2.3)  
Information relating to student recruitment (From which geographical areas do the students come? How do they travel to school?)  
Relevant  information placing the school within the national (and international) education system/s  
Existing school policies and school ethos  
Identify obstacles to plurilingual education (Guide section 6.2.2)  
For further information see "Strategies" by Elisabeth Fleischmann regarding school and whole-school project organization.  

B.  Student Population

Number of students enrolled
Average number of students per grade  
Average number of students per class  
Student-Teacher ratio  
Details of ethnic background of students (e.g. number or % of which background)  
Details  about  the  social  background  of students
( immigrants, social class, foreign temporary residents, nationals)
Relevant information about parents (e.g.careerpath)  
Parental  involvement  in  school  (e.g.  in curriculum  planning,  pupil guidance and discipline, representation on school boards)  
Distinctive features of the school community (e.g.  urban,  industrial, mobile, close-knit)  
 Leadership  and  communitynetworks  (e.g. church-centred,
 isolationist, home nuclei)
Number of languages spoken in the community, and the status of these languages in the community  
Any other relevant cultural  information (e.g. historical, attitudinal, recentdevelopments)  
A description of the linguistic strengths  of the student population (Guide section 5.1.2)  
Information  regarding  their interests,  self-concept, motivation, attitudes (Guide section 5.3.1)  
Any other relevant information (e.g.special requests regarding language  education or racist acts)  

C.  Teachers

Total Number of teachers
Qualifications held by staff  
Previous teaching experience  
Average age and age range  
Ethnic and cultural composition of teachers (and other schoolstaff)  
History of their professional development  
Readiness of teachers to diversify language education (Guide section 6.2.4, 6.4)  
Possibilities for sharing teacher expertise with other institutions (Guide section 6.3)  
For further information see"Road  Map"  by  Antoinette  Camilleri Grima regarding staff development.  

D.  The Curriculum

Test scores (e.g.compared to national ratings)
Curricular specifications regarding languages taught (e.g. which languages, how much time is allocated to each,who teachers them, methodology used)  
Instructional practices (e.g.especially those set  up  at  the  school  in  relation  to  learning styles and cultural diversity)  
Activities throughout the year (extra- curricular programme)  
Parental involvement (e.g.parents"reviews)  
Attempts at differentiating competences (Guide sections 6.6)  
Type and frequency of assessment measures (Guide section 6.8)  
Provisions for students with language problems  
Resources and materials available for language education  
For further information see "Mind  Map" by Madlena Norberg regarding the development of material.  

E.   Language within the school

Language/s used during school assemblies?
Language/s used during school ceremonies  
Language/s used as medium of instruction  
Language/s used on the school site, outside classtime  
Existing policy (stated or unstated) (Guidesections 6.10)  
Teaching formats (Guidesection6.5.2)  
Specific language programmes, activities  
School history relevant to language education  
Resources available / used for language education  
Provisions for alternative ways of learning as  in  self-directed,  autonomous, distance learning (Guide section 6.5.1)  
Needs  expressed  by stakeholders regarding language use within the school  
See appendices regarding ways of collecting information about language  within the school.  

F. Language Background

Languages spoken by the children outside the school
Languages spoken by the teachers and school administrators outside the school  
Language/s learned by teachers when they were pupils  
Information  regarding  levels  of competence  of  students  and  staff  in  the various language varieties  
Attitudes (of recognition, respect) of  students  and  school  staff regarding plurilingualism  
Parental attitudes regarding language use at school  
Information about the literacy practices in the home  
Quality and quantity of textbooks and learning  resources; variety of languages available; quality of materials in each language  
Current views in community, or  nationally,  regarding  the value of languages and of language education  
Current international trends regarding language education  
Positive and negative events relating to multiculturalism and plurilingualism experienced by  the stakeholders (learners, teachers, parents, school administrators) that  might  have  a  bearing on school language policy  
Needs expressed by the stakeholders  in  relation to language education  
The  position  of  the  Ministry  of Education,  of  the Regional Authority  and of  the  Local  Authority on  the issue  of linguistic diversity  
See "Rivers and Lakes" by Andrea Young regarding parental involvement and   valuing   cultures and languages.  

Appendix 1: Language use by the Headteacher

Language used
Head teacher speaks to Teacher X
Head teacher  speaks to a group of teachers informally      
Head teacher  speaks to a group of teachers formally      
Head teacher speaks to  teachers during staff meeting      
Head teacher speaks to parent X      
Headteacher speaks to Assistant Head      
Headteacher speaks to Secretary      
Headteacher speaks to clerk      
Headteacher speaks to cleaner X      
Headteacher speaks to pupil X      
Headteacher speaks  to a group of pupils informally      
Headteacher speaks  to a group of pupils formally      
Headteacher addresses the whole school      
Headteacher speaks to visitor      
Headteacher writes to parents      
Headteacher writes to local and/or national authorities      
Headteacher writes to teachers      

Appendix 2: Teacher interaction

This form can be filled in on selected days, or within a specified time-frame.  It is useful for keeping a record of language/s used, with whom, and for what purposes.

Teacher to Head
Teacher to Assistant Head      
Teacher to Secretary      
Teacher to clerk      
Teacher t ocleaner X      
Teacher to parent X      
Teacher to teacher X      
Teacher to a group of teachers      
Teacher to pupil X      
Teacher to a group of pupils informally      
Teacher to a group of pupils formally (outside less on time)      
Teacher to visitor      
Teacher to pupils during a school outing      

Appendix 3: Pupil interaction

Teachers can fill this in on behalf of the younger pupils. Tick the number of instances a certain language is used.

Language X
Language Y
Code- switching
Teacher addresses whole class
Teacher addresses individual pupil      
Pupil asks question to teacher      
Pupil asks question to another pupil while the whole class is listening      
Pupil talks to another pupil while the teacher continues with the lesson      
Pupils talk during group work      
Pupil talks to a visitor      
Visitor addresses pupil/s      
A pupil from an other classroom comes to class and addresses the teacher      
A pupil from another classroom comes to class and addresses pupil/s      
Parent comes to class and talks to pupil      
Pupils listen to a broadcast      
Pupils work on a computer      
Pupils listen/use a tape-recorder      

Appendix 4: Teacher Questionnaire

Background information

  1. Which level/class do you teach?
  2. What training did you receive before you became a teacher?
  3. Which language did you speak as a child at home?
  4. Which language was mainly spoken at the school/s you attended as a student?
  5. Which language do you speak at home now?
  6. What language do the pupils you teach speak at home, and amongst themselves?
  7. Is  there  a  language  in  which  you  think  you  have  greater  competence?  Please explain why.

Bilingual Education

  1. Is  there  a  language  policy  that  obliges  you  to  use  a  particular  language  as  a medium of instruction throughout the day? If yes, please explain what it says.
  2. In what language are the pupils" textbooks?
    Does this help them learn? Explain how.
  3. Which language do you use to teach  language subjects? Why?
  4. Which  other  subjects  do  you  teach? 
    Which  language/s do  you  use  in  teaching these subjects? Why?
  5. Do you sometimes use code -switching when teaching?
    When do you need to use code-switching? Why?
  6. In general, which language do you prefer to use in order to teach? Why?

Other Information

  1. Have you taken the pupils to an outing during which a foreign language  was the main  language  used  (e.g. visiting a  museum ;  watching  a  film,  etc.)?  Please specify.
  2. Please give a rating to pupils" competence (1 is the weakest, 5 is the highest)
    Speaking in language X 1 2 3 4 5
    Writing inlanguage X 1 2 3 4 5
    Speaking in language Y 1 2 3 4 5
    Writing in language Y 1 2 3 4 5
    Your  comments          
  1. If you have experience of teaching at another school, what differences did you find in the use of languages between the schools?  Can you explain?

  2. At this school, has any parent ever asked you to use a particular language in your teaching? If yes, please give details
  3. Have  you  ever  discussed  the  use  of   language  in  the classroom  with  the  other teachers? If yes, please give details.
  4. In your pre-service or in-service teacher training, have you received information about language as medium of instruction? If yes, please specify.
  5. Do you have a language policy yourself? Please give details.
Developing a Whole-School Language Policy
Preparing a School Language Profile
Strategies for school development
A Road Map for In-House Staff Development
Road map amplified
A mind map for material development
Mind Map amplified
Plurilingual and Pluricultural Education: From Theory To Practice
Lakes and rivers amplified
A summary of practices