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Research & Policy

Research & Policy

 The latest and most relevant information on research and policy on language teaching and learning.

NICILT School Partnership

Leading Little Linguists- Piloting an evidence-based model

The School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW) at Queen's is committed to developing closer and deeper relationships with schools in Northern Ireland. Funding was granted to establish a cross-phase school partnership and pilot an evidence-based model for primary languages in Northern Ireland. This was led by NICILT and ran between September 2016 and June 2019. The project has now finished and the research report is being completed. We will post news about the forthcoming publication in due course.

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NICILT Research


In September 2017, NICILT published exploratory research into transition in languages from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3. The objectives of the research were to ascertain children's and principals' experiences of learning modern languages from primary school to post-primary school in Northern Ireland. The research contributes to wider debate on the lack of statutory modern languages on the primary curriculum in Northern Ireland.

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Items of external research relating to languages teaching and learning

Stranmillis University College

A Review of Current Primary Languages in Northern Ireland

In March 2017, Stranmillis University College published its findings of research conducted relating to the current provision of primary languages in Northern Ireland. Its principal objectives were to gather information on the former Primary Modern Languages Programme (PMLP), evaluating possible improvements, as well as detailing what provision is currently being made and what can be done to develop primary languages further in Northern Ireland.

Ministerio de Educación y Formación Profesional

La enseñanza del español en el Reino Unido. Una tendencia al alza / The teaching of Spanish in the UK. A growing demand.

In 2018 the Spanish Ministerio de Educacion y Formación Professional published this report outlining the current situation and potential expansion of the Spanish language in the UK.

British Council/ Centre for Better Teaching (CfBT)

The British Council has published many reports on language learning which are available on its website:

  • 'Language Rich Europe - Trends in policies and practices for multilingualism in Europe' was published in 2011. To view this click here.
  • 'Languages for the Future- Which languages the UK needs most and why' was published in 2013 and to view this click here
  • 'Language Trends 2013/14- The state of language learning in primary and secondary schools in England' (British Council and CfBT) is available to view here.
  • 'Language Trends 2014/15- The state of language learning in primary and secondary schools in England' (British Council and CfBT) is available to view here.
  • 'Modern Foreign Languages in secondary schools in Wales- Findings from the Language Trends survey 2014/15' (British Council and CfBT) is available to view on the CfBT website here.
  • 'The Quiet Revolution: Transformational Languages Research by Teaching School Alliances' (CfBT) is available to read here.
  • 'Language Trends 2015/16- The state of language learning in primary and secondary schools in England(British Council and Educational Development Trust) is available to view here.
  • 'Language Trends 2015/16- The state of language learning in primary and secondary schools in Wales' (British Council in Wales and Educational Development Trust) is available to view here.
  • 'Language Trends 2016/17- Language teaching in primary and secondary schools in England(British Council) is available to view here
  • 'Languages for the Future- The foreign languages the United Kingdom needs to become a truly global nation' was published in 2017 and to view this click here.
  • 'Language Trends 2018- Teaching in Primary and Secondary Schools in England' (British Council) is available to view here.
  • 'Language Trends Northern Ireland 2019- Findings from surveys of primary and post-primary schools' is available to view here.
  • 'Language Trends 2019-Language Teaching in primary and secondary schools in England' is available to view here

University of Cambridge

The Value of Languages: Ideas for a UK Strategy for languages

In October 2015 a workshop was held in Cambridge University to discuss current deficiencies in UK language policy, to put forward proposals to address these, and to illustrate the strategic value of languages. Representatives from government departments and bodies included: Ministry of Defence, UK Trade and Investment, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ofsted and the devolved administrations. Professor Mícheál Ó Mainnín, from the School of Modern Languages at Queen’s University Belfast presented findings from a case study which focused on Language and Conflict Resolution in Northern Ireland.


British Academy Research and Projects

Arts Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Report by the Open World Research Initiative on Modern Languages (OWRI)

All Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages

The APPG on Modern Languages meets 6 times a year to discuss a wide range of issues relating to languages and their place in current policy discussions.  It also acts to gather evidence and write to ministers and other key figures, when the need arises, to draw attention to key issues. Its purpose is to:

  • explore the educational, skills-related, employment, competitive and cultural benefits of learning and using languages throughout the UK
  • provide a parliamentary forum for information exchange and consultation
  • encourage and support policies and action improving the take-up of languages in schools, further and higher education, in the workplace and in the community.

The Chair of the APPG is Nia Griffith MP (Labour). The Co-Chair is Baroness Coussins (Crossbench). The Vice-Chairs are Sir David Amess MP (Conservative), Tonia Antoniazzi MP (Labour), Lord Dykes (Crossbench) and Baroness Garden of Frognal (Liberal Democrat). Secretariat and support to the APPG is provided by the British Council.

March 2019: A NATIONAL RECOVERY PROGRAMME FOR LANGUAGES- A framework proposal from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages. Click here

To view the APPG Maniesto for Languages (2014) click here.

For more information on the APPG for Modern Languages visit the British Council website here.

Rosetta Stone (in conjunction with Chief Learning Officer)

The Language of Employee Engagement

Employability for languages: A Handbook (Erika Corradini, Kate Borthwick, Angela Gallagher-Brett.)

This handbook outlines clearly and practically how languages are an aid to global communication expertise. It is a collection of ideas on good academic practice for the benefit of educators and academic audiences.

Nuffield Foundation

The Nuffield Foundation set up the Nuffield Languages Inquiry in 1998 to review the UK’s capability in languages. In 2000, it published its report called 'Languages: the next generation- The final report and recommendations of The Nuffield Languages Inquiry', which you can view on their website here.

Ireland- One Voice for Languages

In 2011 One Voice for Languages was established to promote the importance and benefits of language learning and as a unified voice for a number of language networks and associations across Ireland. The group represents all levels of the education system and all its partners, including parents’ associations. It also welcomes representatives from industry, the arts, foreign embassies and cultural institutes.

For more information on this organisation, including the response to the Languages Strategyin Ireland published in December 2017, click here.

Ireland- Foreign Languages Strategy

In December 2017 the Irish Minister for Education and Skills launched Languages Connect - Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026 and Implementation Plan 2017-2022.

You can view the strategy and implementation plan here.


The Scottish Government published a report in 2012 entitled 'Talking the talk, so that Scotland can walk the walk; A rapid review of the evidence of impact on Scottish business of a monolingual workforce' which you can view here. Also in 2012 SCILT published the 'Modern Languages Excellence Report' which you can view here. To view the report and recommendations of the Scottish Government's Language Working Group on the 'Language Learning in Scotland A 1+2 Approach' click here

The above documents are all viewed on the Scottish Government website.


Languages in Europe: Towards 2020 (Analysis and Proposals from the LETPP Consultation and Review, published by LETPP, The Languages Company, Education & Culture DG Lifelong Learning Programme and the London School of Economics and Political Science)

In May 2017 the European Commission published the Eurydice Report: Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe.

In September 2017 the European Commission published the Eurydice Brief: Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe.


Northern Ireland

The former Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has published a number of policies/frameworks regarding languages in N Ireland:

Language/ Cultural Diversity

Irish Language

Ulster Scots

Sign Language

The Department of Education has also published the following:

Languages for the future: The Northern Ireland Languages Strategy

DE Language Policy for Irish



The Languages Company provides regular and up-to-date information on language policy in England and in other parts of the UK. On their website you can access a range of policies, including  'Languages for All; Languages for Life- A Strategy for England', published in 2002, which set out the Government's 8 year plan to transform the nation's language capability. You can also read and access the Languages Review on their website, which was published in 2007 and addressed the falling numbers of students taking languages to GCSE. Click here to visit The Languages Company website.

The Education Development Trust can provide you with information on language policy for schools in England here.

The British Council can provide you with information on the Department for Education's EAL policy here.



For information on the 'Language Learning: A 1+2 Approach' to language teaching for schools please click here.



The Welsh government introduced its strategy entitled ‘Global futures: A plan to improve and promote modern foreign languages in Wales 2015–2020’ in 2015. You can view this here

The Welsh Government have published various policies regarding languages in education, including 'Languages Count: the Welsh Assembly Government's National Modern Foreign Languages Strategy', published in 2002, which you can view here

For information on the government's 'Minority Ethnic Language and Achievement Project' (MELAP), click here

Regarding the Welsh language, they have published 'A living language: a language for living-Welsh Language Strategy 2012-2017'. You can view this document here. For information on the 'Welsh Language Scheme' click here and you can view a brief overview of Welsh language policy here



In December 2017 the Irish Minister for Education and Skills launched 'Languages Connect - Ireland’s latest Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026' and Implementation Plan 2017-2022. You can view the strategy and related documents here.

The 'Official Languages Act 2003' can be accessed here.

In 2009 the Language Policy Division in Strasbourg and the Department of Education and Science in Ireland published the 'Language Education Policy Profile', which looked closely at the context of language education and outlined elements and guidance for a new, overarching language policy. To view this document on the Department for Education and Skills website click here

In 2010 the Irish Government published a document entitled '20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 – 2030' which you can view here

The Department of Enterprise, Trade & Innovation also published the 'Irish Language Scheme' which came into force in October 2010 and which can be accessed here

The '2005-2007 Language Education Policy Profile' produced and published by the Language Policy Division, Strasbourg, of the Council of Europe, together with the Department for Education and Science, is online here



The aim of EU language policy is to promote the teaching and learning of foreign languages in the EU and to create an environment that is friendly towards all languages of the EU Member States. Multilingualism, in the EU’s view, plays an important role in the competitiveness of Europe and its citizens. Hence one objective of its language policy is that every European citizen should master two other languages in addition to their mother tongue. Diversity of languages is an integral part of European identity and culture. The EU is founded on ‘unity in diversity’, and therefore the ability to communicate in several languages should be a prerequisite for all its members.

The European Parliament provides more information regarding EU Language Policy on their website here.

For information on Education and Languages, Language Policy from the Council of Europe, click here.

To visit the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe, click here.

To view the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, click here.


European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages

EPOSTL- The European Approach which aids and supports Initial Teacher Training

The EPOSTL a document aids and supports Initial Teacher Training by encouraging self-reflection and assessment of the didactic knowledge and skills necessary to teach languages. It also helps student teachers record and monitor their own progress and experiences throughout their training course.

The EPOSTL was developed for the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe (ECML) by a team of teacher educators from Armenia, Austria, Norway, Poland and the UK. It builds on insights from the Common European Framework of Reference and the European Language Portfolio

The main body of the EPOSTL consists of:

  1. A personal statement section which help students at the beginning of their teacher education to reflect on general questions related to teaching.
  2. A self-assessment section, which contains lists of ‘can-do’ descriptors to facilitate reflection and self-assessment.
  3. A dossier, in which students can document progress and record examples of work relevant to their teacher education and their future profession.

At the heart of the EPOSTL lie the 193 competence descriptors which make up the self-assessment section, which are regarded as a set of core-competences which language teachers should strive to attain. These descriptors are subdivided as follows:

  1. Context
  2. Methodology
  3. Resources
  4. Lesson planning
  5. Conducting a lesson
  6. Independent learning
  7. Assessment of learning

To access the full document please click here.

Here is a video about the EPOSTL.