The Profile Project
European Profile for Language Teacher Education: a Frame of Reference
About the Profile Project

What the Profile Offers

The European Profile for Language Teacher Education presents 40 items which could be included in a language teacher education programmes. The full report presents a definition and explanation for each item and exemplification from the case study institutions visited during the research process.

The Profile is designed as a source of expert advice and good examples in the field of teacher education. It could be used as a checklist for institutions with longstanding strengths in language teacher education, and as a reference document providing guidance to institutions with plans to develop their language teacher education programmes.

Who will use the Profile

The Profile will be a valuable resource for European, national and international policy makers in the field of teacher education. It also addresses teacher educators who want to introduce trainee teachers to some the European initiatives in language teacher education.

The Profile will be an important frame of reference for its stakeholders, whether they specialise in primary, secondary or adult learning. It contains information for those qualified teachers and teacher educators involved in in-service education, especially in the areas of mentoring, exchanges and international cooperation.

In addition the Profile will be a flexible framework for language trainee teachers and language teachers themselves, since it deals with independent learning strategies, life-long learning and new learning environments.

The Profile is built on the conviction that language teacher education is a life-long process, which should occur both inside and outside organised teaching and learning contexts.

Click here for the European Profile for Language Teacher Education full report

The Profile Headings

The Profile is organised under four main headings:

Structure describes the different constituent parts of language teacher education and indicates how they can be organised.

Knowledge and Understanding relates to what trainee language teachers should know and understand about teaching and learning languages as a result of their initial and in-service education.

Strategies and Skills relates to what trainee language teachers should know how to do in teaching and learning situations as teaching professionals as a result of their initial and in-service education.

Values refers to the values a language teacher should be trained to promote in and through their language teaching.

Below are the 40 headings for each item of the Profile.


  • 1. A curriculum that integrates academic study and the practical experience of teaching.
  • 2. The flexible and modular delivery of initial and in-service education.
  • 3. An explicit framework for teaching practice ( stage/ practicum).
  • 4. Working with a mentor and understanding the value of mentoring.
  • 5. Experience of an intercultural and multicultural environment.
  • 6. Participation in links with partners abroad, including visits, exchanges or ICT links.
  • 7. A period of work or study in a country or countries where the trainee's foreign language is spoken as native.
  • 8. The opportunity to observe or participate in teaching in more than one country.
  • 9. A European-level evaluation framework for initial and in-service teacher education programmes, enabling accreditation and mobility.
  • 10. Continuous improvement of teaching skills as part of in-service education.
  • 11. Ongoing education for teacher educators.
  • 12. Training for school-based mentors in how to mentor.
  • 13. Close links between trainees who are being educated to teach different languages.

Knowledge and Understanding

  • 14. Training in language teaching methodologies, and in state-of-the-art classroom techniques and activities.
  • 15. Training in the development of a critical and enquiring approach to teaching and learning.
  • 16. Initial teacher education that includes a course in language proficiency and assesses trainees' linguistic competence.
  • 17. Training in information and communication technology for pedagogical use in the classroom.
  • 18. Training in information and communication technology for personal planning, organisation and resource discovery.
  • 19. Training in the application of various assessment procedures and ways of recording learners' progress.
  • 20. Training in the critical evaluation of nationally or regionally adopted curricula in terms of aims, objectives and outcomes.
  • 21. Training in the theory and practice of internal and external programme evaluation

Strategies and Skills

  • 22. Training in ways of adapting teaching approaches to the educational context and individual needs of learners.
  • 23. Training in the critical evaluation, development and practical application of teaching materials and resources.
  • 24. Training in methods of learning to learn.
  • 25. Training in the development of reflective practice and self-evaluation.
  • 26. Training in the development of independent language learning strategies.
  • 27. Training in ways of maintaining and enhancing ongoing personal language competence.
  • 28. Training in the practical application of curricula and syllabuses.
  • 29. Training in peer observation and peer review.
  • 30. Training in developing relationships with educational institutions in appropriate countries.
  • 31. Training in action research.
  • 32. Training in incorporating research into teaching.
  • 33. Training in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL).
  • 34. Training in the use of the European Language Portfolio for self-evaluation.


  • 35. Training in social and cultural values.
  • 36. Training in the diversity of languages and cultures.
  • 37. Training in the importance of teaching and learning about foreign languages and cultures.
  • 38. Training in teaching European citizenship.
  • 39. Training in team-working, collaboration and networking, inside and outside the immediate school context.
  • 40. Training in the importance of life-long learning.

Educational and European Context

The European Profile for Language Teacher Education builds on the 'Training of Teachers of a Foreign Language: Developments in Europe', a study which was carried out by a team at the University of Southampton in 2002. This report examines the provision of language teacher education in 32 countries and highlights examples of good practice.

This report highlights the rich diversity of traditions and practices in the education of language teachers across Europe . The Profile is flexible and easily adaptable to national educational contexts.

The Profile has been developed at a time when the European Union is undertaking a number of initiatives to promote language learning and teaching. Languages play a key role in European unity as recognised in the EU's efforts to encourage all citizens to speak two languages in addition to their own mother tongue.

Following wide consultation with European institutions, national ministries, organisations and the general public, the European Commission developed an Action Plan for language learning and linguistic diversity. The Action Plan deals with three broad areas: the promotion of life-long learning, improving language teaching and creating a more language-friendly environment.

The European Profile for Language Teacher Education plays an important role in developing the Action Plan's focus on improving language teaching.

Methodological Approaches

The research process undertaken in establishing the Profile consisted of four main stages:

  • Wide consultation of existing material on language teacher education;
  • Meetings with experts to discuss the structure, content and terminology of the Profile itself;
  • A Delphi study asking teacher educators how language teacher education could be improved from national and European perspectives;
  • Case study field work in eleven European language teacher education institutions involving interviews with institutional policy makers, language teacher educators and trainee teachers.

The Consultative Group

The Consultative Group was composed of eight leading European experts in foreign language teacher education. They were chosen to represent a wide geographical spread across Europe and a broad range of areas of expertise.

Their role was to provide expert advice on the structure and terminology of the Profile. They advised on accurate use of teacher education terminology and the best way to organise the Profile. They also discussed how to disseminate, implement and provide quality assurance and enhancement guidelines for the Profile and ways of conceptualising its use.

Delphi Study

Following extensive research into the Delphi research methodology, twelve European language teacher educators were invited to participate in the three stage iterative process. The Delphi group was established with the following criteria in mind:

  • Participants had experience as language teacher policy makers or educators in a European context;
  • They represented a broad geographical spread across Europe , with a good balance of northern, southern and accession countries;
  • They were willing to commit to all three stages of the iterative process over a period of three months.

The Delphi study aims to establish consensus from a group of selected individuals on a given subject. The first round of the study asked participants to respond to four broad, open questions about improving language teacher education nationally and in a European context. Once these answers were collated, the second round of 36 statements asked participants to grade the statements on a scale of one to five, adding further comments. The answers that achieved greatest consensus were then graded and commented on in the third round.

As a result, eight potential new items were considered for inclusion in the Profile at the second Consultative Group meeting in June 2004. Of these, six became new Profile items, while the other two were integrated elsewhere.

Case Studies

Eleven teacher education institutions in Europe were selected for detailed study in relation to the Profile.

The criteria for the choice of case study institutions were:

  • A broad geographical spread across Europe , with a good balance of northern, southern and accession countries;
  • A balance of established centres of excellence and centres with recently created or still emergent language teacher education programmes;
  • Teacher education courses already corresponding with a number of items on the Profile;
  • A balance of institutions dealing with primary, secondary, initial or in-service teacher education;
  • Institutions that were involved in European cooperation and exchange or emphasised the European dimension in their teacher education programmes;
  • Institutions that were from different countries unless there was clear reason for duplication.

Initial data was collected from printed or web-based sources. One of the research team visited the institution to conduct interviews with the institution's policy directors, teacher educators and, whenever possible, trainee language teachers themselves.

The case studies examined how the institutions exemplified the Profile and what could be learnt about the way the Profile might work in practice. Each case study adopted a similar reporting structure:

  • National Background;
  • Initial teacher education;
  • Continuing teacher education (in-service);
  • Case study context;
  • Organisation of institution;
  • Structure (of programmes);
  • Content (of programmes);
  • The Profile elements exemplified;
  • Points to note;
  • Summary - Main strengths;
  • Areas for further consideration;
  • Contacts/Acknowledgment of sources.

By employing a common reporting structure, the research team was able to compare different language teacher education programmes in terms of provision, delivery, priorities, problems and issues.