Working with LOLIPOP: Suggesting future directions of ELP action research

Abstract

Looking at the reports by the Language Policy Division of the Council of Europe, the European Language Portfolio (ELP) as one of the major developments of the Council of Europe for the past 10 years, seems to be a great success story. The number of validated ELP models as well as learners using an ELP has constantly grown every year, up to 99 models in 2008 and more than 580.000 learners in 2006-2007. Many teacher-researchers who conduct action research projects on the use of the ELP are themselves enthusiasts and convinced that the ELP indeed holds all the potential promised by its inventors. Often, they have been personally involved in developing a new model and therefore, they like to see the anticipated positive effects in their students. By the same token, somehow biased research can be seen in ELP opponents that show quite contrasting results compared to those of “ELP-friendly” researchers. The analysis of studies by such “ELP-sceptics” suggest that the portfolio does neither support autonomous nor lifelong language learning and does not help self-assessment nor awareness raising processes.

After 2 years of using the LLOLIPOP ELP I have myself experienced the predicament of trying to be not biased when working with the ELP in class. The focus of evaluation, for example, was put on questions HOW the ELP helped to improve linguistic and/ or intercultural skills, never WHETHER it was experienced as helpful and effective at all. In my paper, I would like to present evaluations of ELP use with opponent outcomes, depending on the views toward the ELP by the researchers. I will then argue for a more objective approach and would like to suggest valid research questions for possible future studies on the use of the ELP. I would like to discuss how LOLIPOP as the preferred ELP model could be used for such new action research projects.