A language educator in HE needs specific communicative competences in order to create a meaningful learning environment for their students. The national languages strategy Languages Connects advocates for the use of the CEFR as a standard in the HE language teaching and learning. We therefore refer to this extensive framework to characterise the language proficiency of the language educator. However, these communicative competences when applied to the HE language classroom require specific skills to support learner communication and language acquisition (for further detail and discussion of this see, for example Riordan, 2018). Therefore, we highlight skills that are specific to the HE language classroom. We recognise that language educators in HE in Ireland comprise colleagues who identify as native speakers as well as those who identify as non-native speakers of the language that they teach. We view the development and maintenance of language proficiency as vital for both of those groups. 


Can demonstrate a target-language proficiency at a CEFR level (or equivalent) appropriate to the needs of their teaching duties.  

Can model good phonological control using appropriate intonation, and articulate individual sounds clearly.  

Can understand learners’ difficulties with specific target-language phenomena.    

Can model para-linguistic features of the target language (gesture, facial expression, intonation etc.).  

Can use the target language effectively in the HE language classroom.  

Can exercise code-switching and code-mixing in the classroom in line with the aims and objectives of the language class.   


Can demonstrate a minimum target-language proficiency of CEFR level C1.1 (or equivalent) in all skills.  

Can use the target language to explain difficult concepts to learners.  

Can discern if target-language use is too easy or too difficult for their learners to understand.  

Can discern if a target-language task (essay question, summary, etc.) is too easy or too difficult for their learners to complete.


Acts as a role model for language educators’ communicative competence.  

Creates an inclusive and supportive target-language environment for students and colleagues.