Teachers and pupils need to monitor and evaluate the results of the factual language development using portfolio and other techniques to keep track of the progress. For instance, students in the Netherlands use the European Language Portfolio (ELP) to report their language learning activities undertaken outside the classroom (e.g. use of a mother tongue at home which is different from the school language, or contacts with family or friends in foreign countries), and to self-assess their competences. The ELP enables children learning their mother tongue to obtain recognition for language competences that are not acquired formally. A study on the ELP (Aarts and Broeder, 2006) found that learners had positive attitudes towards it, because their language competences were recognised and positively valued and they could assess and record their progress. The study also showed that the ELP enables teachers to better understand their multilingual classrooms and appreciate the strength of pupils’ language competences (European Commission, 2015). You can visit the website of the ELP (http://www.coe.int/en/web/portfolio), and look at several documents with tips for building a language biography.
Together with the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training, the Language and Education Center and the Support Center for Diversity and Learning have set up a Toolkit for Broad Evaluation. This toolkit introduces a type of broad evaluation that focuses on tracking the progress that is made when learning the school’s language and creates an overview that focuses on development. A number of important aspects in this toolkit are:
- Progress is more important than the starting level;
- You want to focus on what the pupil is capable of;
- The file you compile is not only relevant for the school but also for yourself. It tests your own prognoses: have you been ambitious enough? How can you stimulate the child more?;
- Remember that there is a difference between target language development and cognitive abilities.
By keeping a language journal for each student, any specific issues a pupil might have are easy to observe. This way you can tend to the pupil’s needs with a clear focus. Keep a journal for each pupil and work on it once every two weeks, tracking their spoken/written language use. This can be done in a number of ways:
- Let a pupil describe what is happening in the same short comic every time and write along or record it;
- Let the pupil write a short piece of text on the same topic every time;
- Let advanced pupils sit in groups and tell each other stories based on various short comics. Those who are not telling the story write along (the speaker should be instructed to speak slowly);
- Let pupils keep a journal as well: let them tell their story or draw, as well as describe their dreams, expectations and goals for the future, both in the short and the long run. Use positivity certificates to celebrate the goals they achieve.