The European Language Portfolio and Languages for Specific Purposes: A project to develop “can do” descriptors focused on students' interests and motivation
Projects related to the European Language Portfolio (ELP) carried out at the Language Centre of the University of Trieste are concerned to examine whether and to what extent “can do” descriptors can be extended to courses in Languages for Specific Purposes. The project reported in this article had two aims. The first was to explore what is involved in transforming traditional course objectives into a “can do” format. We focused on courses in the Language of Tourism in the Economics Faculty (English and Spanish) and the German course for students of International Science and Diplomatic Relations. After determining which tasks were relevant to each course, we analysed which specific skills the students were expected to develop with reference to the proficiency levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Checklists of descriptors with examples and contexts of use were then presented to the students together with the official version of the CercleS version of the European Language Portfolio (ELP). Our second aim was to deal with the problem of continuity between language learning objectives at secondary school and university, and specifically to investigate how using the ELP can bring the two together. We carried out a survey of secondary school students who had worked with a checklist of descriptors for literary language, asking them about their perception of the ELP. Positive feedback confirmed that identifying and demonstrating the relevance of the ELP to students' academic or professional interests both enhances the perceived value of the ELP and leads to increased motivation for language learning.