QLS at EAQUALS Conference in Lisbon, April 2016

Asimenia Featham, QLS Chair, reports on the conference EAQUALS (Evaluation and Accreditation of Quality Language Services) is a non-profit association founded in 1991 with a mission statement to foster excellence in language education across the world by providing guidance and support to teaching institutions and individuals. Eaquals accredits quality standards in all types of language institutions. Accreditation is only awarded after a comprehensive and rigorous quality assurance process repeated every four years. The Eaquals accreditation scheme provides guarantees of high quality for language learners studying in accredited centres in 35 countries. Membership of Eaquals is open to private or state organizations which are involved in the delivery of quality language services or  are in some other way committed to the achievement of excellence in this area. There are different categories of membership:

Accredited Members – Associate Members – Individual Members or Project Partners. The advantages of Eaquals Membership

  • Access to an international network of excellent language centres, and attending regular meetings and conferences.
  • Participation in a process of quality assurance which helps members to develop.
  • Permission to use a name and logo which are an independent guarantee of quality for learners.
  • Listing on the Eaquals website and in the ‘Course-finder’ section.
  • Access to information on cutting-edge developments and specialized training.

QLS (Quality in Language Services), the network of Quality  Language Centres, has been an associate member of Eaquals since 2005, sharing a wealth of professional expertise with a range of international influential organizations involved in language education. Currently QLS is the only associate member of Eaquals in Greece!

EAQUALS Conference in Lisbon

Eaquals offers a stimulating programme of conferences with two major international meetings each year in November and April. They provide practical professional training and development and an opportunity to network with education professionals with a shared commitment to quality.

The 2016 Eaquals International Conference in the historic and beautiful city of Lisbon marked the 25th anniversary of Eaquals’ foundation and was an opportunity to look back at what Eaquals has achieved so far while looking forward to future opportunities.

The conference was officially opened by the Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Augusto Santos Silva, who is a distinguished academic in the fields of sociology and political ideas and Professor in the Faculdade de Economia at the University of Porto. He has served as both Minister of Education and Minister of Culture in previous governments. He made tribute to Eaquals’ work in raising international standards and gave a very inspiring speech on the vital role of language teaching and learning for better understanding in the world today.

The conference offered practical professional development opportunities and insights for people working in all kinds of language education institutions as they strive to enhance the quality of the services provided and meet the demands of an increasingly competitive environment.

Conference themes The conference sessions were organized in 5 themes, chosen to reflect the interests of delegates. The programme included keynote plenary sessions together with elective sessions.

Teaching and learning

  • Course design, CEFR and assessment
  • Staff development
  • Managing for quality
  • Business and marketing management

One of the highlights of the conference was the 5-hour Management training workshop on ‘Personal Excellence for Language Centre Managers’ conducted by the renowned educational coach, consultant and trainer George Pickering. He advised that “Before we can manage others effectively we need to manage ourselves through developing appropriate time and stress management strategies and habits.” Moreover, the Market Place provided the opportunities for members to network with each other, share information on their programmes and promote their services within Eaquals.

The materials from the conference presentations and workshops are available on the Eaquals website. The excellent social programme of the conference included the reception at Camões – Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, a palace, now housing a cultural centre, the informal dinner at Estufa Real with the amazing botanic gardens, the anniversary dinner and disco and, finally, the traditional Cervejaria Trinidad housed in an old monastery gave “delicious” opportunities for catching up with old friends and forging new contacts and relationships.

During the anniversary dinner, the three founding members, Peter Brown, Richard Rossner, and Frank Heyworth described vividly how they came up with the idea of Eaquals on a train journey in England in 1991, and we saw an impressive video showing the achievements of Eaquals over the past 25 years. Despite the economic crisis in Greece, QLS was represented at this very special event by four board board (Asimenia Featham – Chair, Panagiota Bourtsoukli – Vice-chair, Alexandra Kolitsa – Secretary, and Nicoletta Hatzistefanou-Member), and moreover, it participated actively with two presentations of QLP (QLS Learning Profile), the ground-breaking educational project recently implemented in the QLS schools, based on Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Our main presentation was entitled ‘Learn How Your Learners Learn’ (The QLP way – The Greek case study) We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Eaquals organizing committee for planning such an enjoyable and worthwhile event. The next Eaquals Conferences will take place in Florence, 17th-19th November 2016, and in Riga, 27th-29th April 2017.

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