Call For Paper

Quality Assurance and evaluation in Language Centres

Démarche qualité et évaluation(s) dans les Centres de Langues

 Call for papers in English or French


Keynote Speakers

Angela Chambers, Professor of Applied Languages and Director of Centre for Applied Language Studies, University of Limerick, “The language centre as virtual space and physical space: from practice to research”.
Michael Kelly, Professor, Head of Modern Languages and Director of Research in Languages, University of Southampton, “European Language network for quality assurance”
Claire Extramiana, Chargée de mission auprès du délégué général pour la maîtrise de la langue et l'action éducative, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, “La génèse du label qualité FLE”.

Language Centres come in many forms and carry out many different  missions. They try to reconcile several of the missions assigned to Higher Education: language training, cultural open-mindedness, training experts in language pedagogy and training course design, globalisation, as well as the reduction of inequality. They are at the intersection of several logics - academic, economic and social - behind the evolution of language training policies. What form of change is now taking place in Language Centres ? What are the consequences for Language Centres for current policies in Higher Education ?

How can one roll out the concept of Quality Assurance and/or Evaluation with reference to Language Centres in Higher Education ? What aspects of a language centre can be part of the quality assurance process? How can we evaluate the efficiency of a Language Centre and those who work  therein?

In numerous sectors excellence has become an objective. Quality Assurance is defined as the aptitude of an organisation to satisfy the level of quality wished for, desired, or prescribed. What meaning can be given to Quality Assurance in Higher Education ? The concept can include : quality management, a quality process, the evaluation of quality and the guarantee of quality. In Higher Education, the notion can be a synonym for the capacity to carry out a predetermined mission, the possibility of progress and transformation, even exceptional achievement.

Language Centres are no exception to the rule and the concept of evaluation is inevitably present here too. It may take the form of an internal evaluation (self-evaluation) where those directly involved in the Language Centres (students and personnel) are part of the process of improvement of the quality of service provided for the student. The performance indicators of the actions implemented within the framework of the university development plan can provide some guidelines: is the quantative or accountancy perspective which commonly results from the use of indicators (number of visits, number of connections to the Digital Workspace, and so on) positive for Language Centres ? What criteria need to be taken into consideration and implemented? How relevant are pathways of (semi-) autonomy in terms of completing the link-in with training in English for non-majors ? Are students’ personal projects and trajectories taken into account? Might research into the Didactics of  languages and cultures be a motor for a quality-oriented approach for Language Centres ?

The evaluation can also be external, ensured by the State or an independent Agency. One might give a Quality label to Language Centres, along the lines of the present Quality Label for French as a Foreign Language. Concerning the evaluation of student users of Language Centres, how might their work be better recognised ? How can their progress be evaluated ? How can their language acquisition strategies be helped to fruition ?  With this goal in mind, what type of evaluation should be put in place? What if the evaluation of students and of their language competencies necessarily involved certification? What is the existing relationship between evaluation and certification within Language Centres, or that which should be encouraged ?

The organisation and management of Language Centres.
How can a Language Centre be managed?
How can one create efficient specifications for a Language Centre?
What are the criteria for judging the quality of learning within a Language Centre ?
How can the public be informed about the activities of a Language Centre ?
How can links be made between Language Centre activities and the degree courses?
How might one plan courses, workshops and student support?
How can one analyse the needs of the learners? And better recognise their learning successes?
How can one organise the evaluation of a Language Centre by its users?

Language Centre space : physical, virtual, hybrid?
What strategy is appropriate in function of the nature of the structure ? How might one define a Language Centre?
How might one treat the question of time with reference to support for students and training?
How might space be organised within a Language Centre ? What role might be given to virtual space ? What Information Technology for Teaching and Education  supports might be used ?
How can one evaluate students in a virtual centre?

The new job of the teacher in a Language Centre
What kind of Language Centre teacher profile is desirable?
How should professional advisory services to support individual language learners be organised? How should one organise learning activities which complement those classes where students are physically present? What is the place of language for special purposes and general language?
How can one be made ready to fill the different teaching roles such as planner, organiser, facilitator, privileged interlocutor, and so on?
How can the Language Resource Centre (CRL) or distance work of the students be taken into account? What life-long learning training needs to be proposed to staff ?

The new student public
The massification of Higher Education has created a diverse student body. How can the Language Centre be adapted to the needs of all the students, to the heterogeneity of the users? How can one make the learner an active participant in his/her learning?
How might one improve the language capacities of students as a complement to the training on offer? What strategy enable a language centre to provide better training?
What is the role of Language Centres in the preparation of students for international mobility?

The evaluation of students
What sort of evaluation of student work can be proposed within language support setups?
In terms of continuous assessment, how might one take into account diaries and/or portfolios/projects and individual pathways?
How might one create close links between Language Centre activities and the training on offer for students who are not specialists of languages?

Research in Language Centres
What sort of research should be privileged?
What role might there be for research in language didactics?
What might be the role of research on the diversity of student publics?
How can research and practice be reconciled?

What certifications are offered in Language Centres ?
Should one promote pubilc certifications or might one use private certifications?
What effect can certifications have on training, pedagogical practices, and on employability ? What complex pegagogical tool might be invented?

External influences on Quality
What influence has Europe (the European Council and the European Union) and the (French) State on the evolution of Language Centres ?
How can one introduce a referential for a Language Centre in Higher Education ?

Organisation of the Symposium
The Symposium will take place on November 27, 28, and 29, 2014, at Boulogne-sur-Mer (CRL, ULCO), France.

The deadline to send proposals (submitted to a scientific committee) is 21st October 2014. The proposals should be submitted to the Symposium website: 

Scientific organisation: Professor Imelda Elliott, Dr. Emilie Perrichon and Professor Annick Rivens Mompean

Conference organisation: Jean-François Brouttier –

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