European Language Portfolio (ELP)

  • The Language Biography

sample language biography

The Language Biography contains goal-setting and self-assessment checklists that expand on the summary descriptors contained in the Self-assessment Grid .

The Language Biography also encourages the learner to state what he/she can do in each language and to include information on linguistic, cultural and learning experiences gained in and outside formal educational contexts. It is organized to promote plurilingualism, i.e. the development of proficiency in a number of languages.

All ELP models must include all the elements illustrated in the templates and resources below, but the weighting may vary from model to model depending on local priorities. For example:

  • If a priority is to highlight the synergy between the learning of different languages, more space may be accorded to metalinguistic reflection about how languages work, how they are used, and the development of learning strategies that can be used across languages, etc.
  • If linguistic diversity is a priority, the model may favour more pages devoted to the linguistic environment of the learner, linguistic and intercultural experiences, and the role of mediation between languages and cultures, etc.
  • An emphasis on developing learner autonomy may lead to more space being given to reflection on learning how to learn, goal-setting and self-assessment, etc.
  • If intercultural learning is to be promoted, more space may be devoted to intercultural encounters, both direct and indirect (through text and other media) and reflection on behaviours, attitudes and strategies, etc.

The following sets of templates and resources are available to ELP developers. For each of the headings, developers need to decide whether to use the available templates or develop their own material. The Language Biography section of each ELP model should address each of the headings below.  

Plurilingual profile

The Language Biography usually opens with a page or two where the learner has the opportunity to reflect on and present their language and cultural background, for example the language(s) of the family, the neighbourhood, etc. You are invited to use or adapt the following template:

Goal-setting and learning how to learn

You are invited to select and/or adapt from the following set of sample pages. There are pages prepared for both younger and older learners. The sample pages are preceded by a brief introduction.

You are advised to consider:

Intercultural awareness and experience

As with the Learning how to learn pages, you are advised to consider how the pages may be re-used and stored.

When considering the pages it is worth bearing two further points in mind. First, although the intercultural dimension of the ELP is explicitly associated with “respect for diversity of cultures and ways of life” (Council for Cultural Cooperation 2000), we need to be sensitive to cultural similarity as well as cultural difference, to sameness as well as otherness. Secondly, while ELPs designed for adolescent and adult learners often associate the intercultural dimension with residence abroad, it should be remembered that intercultural encounters may also occur in the learner’s home context.

The Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters ( ) is another Council of Europe product that may address your needs in this area.

Self-assessment checklists

Checklists of “I can” descriptors are an obligatory requirement in all ELPs. They expand the general descriptors of the self-assessment grid into a detailed inventory of communicative activity that can be used for regular goal-setting and self-assessment. They also mediate to learners the CEFR’s action-oriented approach, which describes language learning as a variety of language use.

This website makes available a variety of sources to select descriptors from and some guidance for adapting descriptors or formulating new ones. When you are drawing up the checklists for your model, you need to bear in mind questions, such as:

Possible solutions to these and other questions are to be found in the introduction to the set of generic descriptors for older learners.

If you are developing a model for younger learners, please consult the paper listed below that considers the issues involved in producing descriptors that are both relevant and comprehensible to young learners. The paper also discusses the role of the Self-assessment Grid in ELPs for younger learners and why it is not possible to adapt it.

These are further resources that you can consult, including the illustrative scales from the CEFR and the Bank of Descriptors drawn from validated ELP models:

sample language biography

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Language Biographies Samples For Students

13 samples of this type

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sample language biography

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The mission of NCSSFL is to provide leadership in facilitating and promoting policies and practices that support language education.

LinguaFolio ® Training Resources

Training modules to show how to implement LinguaFolio ®

1.6 Language Biography

The Language Biography is a record of personal, language-learning history . In this section of LinguaFolio, students are prompted to reflect on how they learn and to set learning goals. They evaluate their learning goals and reflect on language learning and cultural experiences. The Biography’s can-do statements help learners assess their language competencies and interactions in authentic cultural contexts. The Biography is the most important part in the formative assessment process.

Sometimes we wonder, why do students come to us and ask what their grade will be? Why don’t they know? It may be easy for us to evaluate our own proficiency, but students must have plenty of opportunities to practice self-assessment in order to form realistic and accurate evaluations of their abilities.

Parts of the Biography Learners use the three parts of the Language Biography to reflect on and document their overall language-learning processes.

PART 1: BACKGROUND INFORMATION In this part of the LinguaFolio Biography, language learners document personal language-learning history. They reflect on how they learn and complete a learning inventory.

PART 2: INTERCULTURAL ENCOUNTERS Learners evaluate their responses to various intercultural encounters and learn to react appropriately to a specific audience. Using cultural experiences as a starting point, students explore their feelings, perceptions, and goals.

PART 3: CHECKLISTS AND SELF-ASSESSMENT GRID The checklists and self-assessment grid are from the standard version of LinguaFolio — usually for students in heritage language programs, middle school language programs for high school credit, and high school or university language programs. When learners feel they can check off most of the can-do statements within a category, they summarize that ability in the Language Passport using the self-assessment grid indicators. A checklist sample and the self-assessment grid are both linked below.

The checklists are used by the learner for self-assessment but can also be used for peer- and teacher-assessment. The teacher may draw information from the Biography to guide instructional decisions.

In this video, teachers comment on the effect of the checklists in the language learning process . In your opinion, what are the three most important impacts?

Watch video here . Video transcript: “Language Biography Checklists” (pdf)

It is not unusual for a learner to be more competent in one area than another. For example, a learner may be intermediate-low in the speaking mode, but already at intermediate-mid in the interpretive mode.

Reaching consensus about where to place students in classes and when to move them to the next level is difficult. The checklists provide a unique opportunity to educators making these decisions. Using these checklists helps build a deeper understanding of proficiency levels, which can impact the expectations for the articulation sequence of a program at each level.

Also linked below is an example from LinguaFolio Junior that lists can-do statements for students in grades 3–5. Teachers can ask students to use a tool like this at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year. It is important that students realize that learning is a cyclical process; exposure to a new concept does not mean fluency. Plenty of opportunity to practice the new concept is essential to achieve proficiency.

The second page of the LinguaFolio Junior handout, geared toward students in grades 6–8, is a worksheet for students to keep track of dates they accomplish certain tasks. After winter or summer breaks — or even a week after a lesson — students may be unable to demonstrate previous learning. This ongoing check-up reinforces the fact that language learning is a process that requires continual use of skills until they are mastered. This worksheet also demonstrates how LinguaFolio creates opportunities to help students maintain what they have learned. What is a motivating factor for the student also functions as an accountability factor for the teacher — who is then encouraged to provide more language production situations.

Sample interpretive listening self-assessment checklist ( pdf )

Self-assessment grid ( pdf )

LinguaFolio Junior samples ( pdf )

Next: 1.7) Language Dossier

Language Biography

Language Biography

Kristella Salang AB English―1 Speaking It My Way: A Language Biography I am an eighteen-year-old Filipino who resides

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Kristella Salang AB English―1 Speaking It My Way: A Language Biography I am an eighteen-year-old Filipino who resides in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte and I speak two languages, Filipino and English. I was raised in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte where most of the townspeople speak Bisaya which is my mother tongue and is the main language that I use at home and outside. Similar to natural language acquisition in bilingual individuals, I learned Bisaya in an intrinsic linguistic environment through imitation from my parents and family members. However, my first language is Filipino which I acquired through my mother who introduced me to it and personally taught me the basics such as the Filipino alphabet as well as their sounds. She would also flip through flashcards containing some new words and sentences everyday and help me pronounce each of them. We would count together, sing Filipino songs and nursery rhymes, and label things around our house to practice identifying them. Using the national Filipino language, I am able to speak fluently, write, read and comprehend which immensely helped me in interacting with people. I first acquired English as my second language when I was five years old by learning it on my own through reading stories. It was then that I have started to love reading which motivated me to become an eloquent English speaker and writer. I then became proficient in English language when I began to study it formally in school. Consequently, I have picked up a variety of skills from the process of learning the English language. I am capable of comprehending my second language as it is being spoken to me and communicating more effectively with people especially foreigners. I can also write and read well which contributed a lot to better apprehension and retention of any information. The things that I identify as my strengths in both languages I acquired are grammar, vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation, fluency and accuracy. Meanwhile, my language weaknesses would be the disorganization of my thoughts and ideas whenever I speak in front of a huge crowd due to my speech anxiety. There are also times when I can talk to myself fluently but I’m not so fluent while communicating with others probably because of overthinking or a lack of confidence. But regardless, I consider English as my favorite language since I feel more connected to it. Most of the material I read, write, watch, or listen to is in English. Through English, I am able to communicate with people from the other side of the world. There is just something in English that made me love hearing it and speaking in it; it’s got its own charm that I just don’t see in other languages.

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