What is the EU's Role?

To ensure the development of relevant policies and effective initiatives, the European Commission needs to develop a sound evidence-base.

Using available data sources, it is monitoring the progress of language teaching and learning.

The European Commission works with Eurostat, Unesco, and the OECD to collect and analyse data on language teaching across Europe. On this basis, sound language competence indicators and standards are developed at European level.

The periodical Key data on teaching languages at school, provided by the Eurydice network, also adds important information about national developments.

Why is it needed?

The European Commission's strenghtens the evidence-base in the field of languages, notably through regular monitoring, are essential to help governments understand existing levels of second language proficiency and enable them to take measures to improve the outcomes of language learning.

This monitoring also provides information on how demographic, social, economic and educational variables affect language proficiency within and across Member States.

What has been done so far?

Every year, the Commission publishes the Education and Training Monitor , which is an instrument to foster and encourage evidence-based policy making. It is an annual report that illustrates, in a succinct document, the evolution of education and training systems across Europe. It takes into account a variety of benchmarks and indicators, as well as recent studies and policy developments, and it provides the framework for discussions with individual Member States within the strategic framework for cooperation in education and training (ET2020).

The first major step in establishing a sound evidence-base for policy-making in the field of languages was the European Indicator of Language Competence, allowing Member States to develop their language-learning policies and improve their national standards.

Building on this, the European Survey on Language Competences  was carried out in the spring of 2011, across 14 Member States and 16 educational systems. Almost 54,000 pupils were tested in three main competencies: reading, listening and writing.

What are the next steps?

A mapping of national assessment and testing methods in Member States will be carried out by Eurydice in 2015. In parallel, a tender will be launched for a study on the comparability of different assessment methods.

The European Commission will also continue to promote language learning under the Erasmus+ programme, notably through language assessment and strategic partnerships, as well as the European Language Label awards.