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ELT accreditors make strides in global alliance

The Quality Assurance in Language Education Network, a worldwide network of English language accreditation bodies, has officially launched its website and branding this month, following a symposium held in Malta.

The QALEN symposium held last month in Malta.

“One of the best outcomes of this symposium was the opportunity to share best practice and listening to how other countries are tackling this industry and making it better”

The developments put the organisation on track to create a forum for sharing best practice and comparing accreditation systems used in different countries. So far representatives from six countries have joined, including bilingual accreditors from Canada, signalling the group’s potential to grow beyond ELT providers.

“The objective is to put a legitimate foundation under each of the bodies involved, in so far as the capacity of their delivering quality assurance”

Speaking with The PIE News about the group’s goals, Mark Raven, CEO of Australia-based founding member NEAS, said: “The objective is to put a legitimate foundation under each of the bodies involved, in so far as the capacity of their delivering quality assurance.”

“It puts a foundation or a legitimisation under our claims that we are quality assuring in the right way,” he explained. “It is a classic case of who quality assures the quality assurer… it forces us to look in the mirror and question whether we are doing things properly.”

Among other topics, discussions at the symposium in Malta explored common challenges including how to ensure that teacher qualifications meet requirements, and unannounced visits for accredited institutions.

“It was incredibly helpful for us, particularly within our Quality Assurance Committee,” Julian Inglis, co-chair of the committee at Languages Canada, told The PIE News.

“We have a lot of questions that come up – the spot check was a very good example,” he explained. “It was a question that came up and we were looking at it as something we need but who else is doing it, is it something being done in general, and how do they do it?”

“When QALEN was forming more formally we definitely identified it as an opportunity to answer specifically those questions,” he said.

Similarly, the network aims to provide assurances for members about the parts of their accreditation processes that are working effectively.

“It was incredibly helpful for us, particularly within our Quality Assurance Committee”

“One of the best outcomes of this symposium was the opportunity to share best practice and listening to how other countries are tackling this industry and making it better,” commented Genevieve Abela, CEO of FELTOM in Malta, a membership organisation representing 85% of Malta’s English language schools and a founding member of QALEN.

“However, it was also a validation that FELTOM is doing things right and following the international standards set by traditionally larger English language teaching destinations.”

The symposium in Malta was hosted by FELTOM in collaboration with the country’s ELT Council.

The meeting was the group’s second fully-fledged symposium, following an event in Sydney last year.

With the addition of Languages Canada as an affiliate in August, QALEN now comprises representatives from accrediting bodies in six countries. The remaining founding members are English New Zealand, ACCET in the US and Accreditation UK and ABLS in the UK.

The involvement of Languages Canada and its contracted inspectors Orion Canada could open the door for broader representation across other language teaching, said Raven.

“Languages Canada and Orion represents QALEN’s first bilingual quality assurance bodies, opening the door for greater representation from other jurisdictions,” he commented.

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