In the framework of the introduction of the European Language Portfolio as an alternative assessment tool in Primary Education, I organised two seminars, one in Karditsa, on 4th May 2011 and one in Trikala, on 5th May 2011 for the English teachers working in Primary schools in the corresponding prefectures. The seminars were held in the 5th Primary school of Karditsa and in the 1st EPA.L of Trikala, respectively. The theme of the seminars was ” The European Language Portfolio in Greek Primary Schools”.
The aim of the seminars was, on the one hand, to present the European Language portfolio and, on the other, to raise teachers’ awareness of its added value for the students and their development as autonomous learners.
During the seminars, we discussed the underlying principles of the portfolio, how it can be integrated in the teaching practice, what the expected benefits of its implementation are. In addition, reference was made to the history of the European Language Portfolio and to its introduction to the Greek Primary schools. The teachers had the opportunity to flip through the Greek version of The European Language Portfolio and see for themselves the parts it consists of as well as the content of each part. Besides, there were given examples of portfolio related activities that teachers can design and do with their students in order that students can develop their learning strategies and self-assessment skills. Big emphasis was given to the functions of the portfolio and the teacher’s crucial role as to its introduction, development and use.
The seminar ended with the teachers’ suggestions concerning future training on the subject and steps to be taken to promote and ensure appropriate and sustainable use of the portfolio.
Some of their suggestions are the following:
- Preparatory meetings among schools advisors of all subjects
- Informative meetings for head teachers, class teachers, teachers of other subjects and parents
- Increase of the teaching hours for the English Language in all Primary schools
- Frequent meetings of the English teachers with their school advisor (e.g one per month) to exchange and share their gained experience and particular activities they will have tried out after the initial introduction of the portfolio
- On-line discussions of the topic
In conclusion, taking the teachers’ feedback into consideration, I estimate that the teachers developed a positive attitude towards the portfolio and seemed to be enthusiastic about its integration to the EFL classroom. However, they expressed their concern about barriers they may come up against in their school environment since they doubt the preparedness of the rest of the school community for such an innovative assessment tool which is out of tune with the altogether competitive assessment now applied in Greek Schools.