The EAQUALS Profiling Grid for Language Teachers seeks to summarise the key features of qualifications and competences at different stages of a language teacher’s development.

At the Basic stage, teaching knowledge and competence is holistic and in the process of being acquired; the aim of a “Basic” teacher is to make it to T3. By T5, however, development in certain directions may well be noticeable; there are many different ways to be a proficient teacher. “Proficient” teachers may also acquire specialised skills in certain “supplementary” areas.

The aim of the Grid is to describe qualifications and practical competences that one could expect at stages of a teacher’s development, with commonly agreed reference points – like the levels of the CEFR. The concept was that, as with the European Language Portfolio (ELP), the summary grid would be supported by more detailed checklists for different stages or for different categories. The idea was that teachers might plot their profiles and consider the objectives represented by the descriptors for the next competence band; qualifications were used as reference points for bands as in the CEFR/ELP.

The bands are currently labelled “T1” to “T6.” The descriptors reflect increasing knowledge, skills and experience as one moves up the bands. T1 and T2 (“Basic”) refers to teachers in training. At this stage, teaching knowledge and competence is holistic and in the process of being acquired. T3 and T4 (“Independent”) refer to teachers who have a minimum standard for teaching a language. T5 and T6 (“Proficient”) refers to more experienced teachers who will probably have a noticeably jagged profile as they may well have tended to develop or specialise in certain areas rather than others. To give a feel for the different bands, it might be useful to look at the descriptors for “Language Awareness,” mainly focused on dealing with classroom queries.

  • At T1, the teacher can: “answer simple queries with the help of reference works.” They cannot act independently.
  • At T2, one can “answer queries related to simple, high frequency structures.” On home ground, the trainee teacher can cope with questions.
  • At T3 the newly qualified teacher can give correct models of usage on most occasions (though they may sometimes oversimplify the language or present something that is not actually what a native speaker would say) and they can “answer most language queries satisfactorily at A1-B1, using reference sources as necessary.” In other words, they can operate independently at lower levels, but it is still a good idea that they check both the models they give and their answers to queries.
  • At T4 the teacher can still “give correct models of usage on most occasions” that is to say, still cannot cope with everything, and can “answer language queries adequately though not always comprehensively, using reference sources as necessary.” Here we see an echo of the Eurocentres descriptor shown in Table 2.
  • By T5 the teacher is fully competent in this area and can “give correct examples of usage on all occasions” and answer language queries reliably.”
  • At T6 the teacher can “provide clear explanations” and “teach usage and register at all levels,” but more significantly they can “understand what is confusing learners” and “give comprehensive, accurate answers to queries”. A fully proficient language teacher can understand problems that learners are having and can answer questions that the learners may well not be capable of formulating themselves.

As mentioned in the Introduction, the grid provides a profile across a rich set of categories. In addition to “Language Awareness” “Language” also includes, for non-native speakers, “Language Proficiency.” “Qualifications” covers formal qualifications, teaching practice and experience.

The main qualitative descriptors are to be found in “Core Competences.” This covers “Methodology knowledge and skills”, “Planning”, “Interaction Management” and “Assessment”. In addition, there might be an argument for including the skills referred to in “Language Awareness” in “Core Competences”.

In addition to the “Core Competences” there are two “Complementary Skills” defined: “Teacher Development” and “Digital Literacy”. Other complementary skills could also be imagined, but these two are perhaps the closest to a teacher’s core tasks. As one becomes more experienced it is natural to become involved in mentoring and also to lead some teacher development sessions for colleagues. And today no teacher can get away without some degree of digital literacy. Other supplementary skills could include learner counselling, managing staff, school administration, language testing and quality management.

The grid is available here.