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The Répertoire annuel des centres de formation en France (Annual Directory of Training Centres in France) is published for the first time by the Association pour la diffusion de la pensée française (Association for the Dissemination of French Thought, ADPF) under the aegis of the Department of Cultural Cooperation and French of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. This represents an initial attempt to produce a list of French as a foreign language centres in France. The directory concerns 'professional bodies of reference' (ADCUEFE, the Fle.fr group, Souffle, the Office national de garantie des séjours et stages linguistiques, UNOSEL, etc.) but in no way represents any form of approval on the part of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The global languages market is rapidly expanding. The United Kingdom, Canada and Australia are investing resources in the field. France is also experiencing growing demand in the market for resident language courses abroad. In response to this demand, the number of language classes available increases as new individual and collective initiatives are developed, with all kinds of centres - public, private, community-based, etc. - sharing the market. The sheer variety of services offered results in a poor understanding of the quality of the hosting and training services provided. Both clients and consultants, and French diplomatic missions abroad in particular, have difficulty identifying those training venues offering the required guarantees. There is a clear need for a catalogue of French as a foreign language training centres based on clearly defined quality criteria that have been validated by the public authorities.
The Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs and the Delegation General to the French Language and Languages of France at the Ministry for Culture and Communication, with the support of the Department of Higher Education at the Ministry for National Education, decide to introduce a system for assessing reliable and consistent quality standards in France, taking inspiration from the various models adopted in other countries. They entrust the task of implementing this certification scheme to the Centre international d’études pédagogiques (CIEP). A national commission comprising representatives of each ministry is responsible for validating all aspects of the procedure developed by a scientific committee. This scientific committee, comprising around fifteen experts, works under the direction of Claude Le Ninan, a senior lecturer at the University of Franche-Comté, and writes the certification processes, procedures and framework that serve as a basis for a self-assessment and audit grid. Professional groups involved in the certification scheme sit in on meetings of the commission very early on, when the writing of processes, procedures and tools (framework) was presented and discussed. The Alliance Française joined the process later on, in spring 2007. These meetings made it possible to consider some of the claims made by the groups, such as the period for which the certification was awarded, the admissions criteria, the value of the financial contribution according to turnover and communication regarding the various criteria of the quality process.
The first expert reports are submitted on 15 February 2005 and presented at the Sorbonne on 28 September at a certification briefing attended by many representatives of professional groups and centre directors.
On 17 February, the three supervisory authorities sign a mission statement for the operator outlining the functioning, objectives and field of the certification. The first meeting of the Advisory Council is held on 12 April, when the certification processes, procedures and tools are presented and discussed, along with the schedule for implementing the certification, the provisional budget and the terms governing the recruitment of auditors. On 26 April the certification process is officially launched and centres invited to submit applications.
On 28 March, once the audit reports have been validated, the Interministerial Certification Committee issues the first fifteen Qualité français langue étrangère certifications to centres that have applied for it. This number rises to 22 by the end of the year, that is 9 centres certified for every 10 registered. The decree that created the Qualité français langue étrangère certification is published in the Official Journal of the French Republic on 28 December 2007.
On 4 April and 6 June the Office national de garantie des séjours et stages linguistiques (National Guarantee Office for Language Exchanges and Placements) submits a summary petition and an additional report on modifying the presentation of the list of French as a foreign language centres as decided by the Interministerial Certification Committee to the Secrétariat du Contentieux of the Council of State. On 13 November, nominations for the Advisory Council on the awarding of Qualité français langue étrangère certification are published in official bulletin BO n°43 dated 13 November 2008. On 5 December, a second interim assessment reports 97 centres registered, 74 that have been audited, 55 certified and 5 rejected. The first edition of the Répertoire de centres de français langue étrangère en France (Directory of French as a Foreign Language Centres in France) listing certified centres is published by CulturesFrance with the collaboration of the CIEP. The first part of the directory provides a list of Qualité français langue étrangère certified centres and centres registered for the process as of 31 July 2007. The second part outlines the different classes offered by centres featured in the 2006-2007 edition of the directory that were not registered for the process as of 31 July 2007. 105 centres are listed in the directory.
The 2009 interim assessment reports 89 centres registered, 81 centres that have been audited, 80 centres that have obtained certification and 9 centres that have been denied the certification. On 9 June, the Council of State rejects the petition by the Office national de garantie des séjours et stages linguistiques on the basis that the directory of French as a foreign language centres, which is limited to providing a list of Qualité français langue étrangère certified centres, has no legal impact and is not of the nature to have an adverse effect. The CIEP is entrusted with the task of publishing the Répertoire des centres de français langue étrangère (Directory of French as a Foreign Language Centres). The directory lists both certified centres and centres that have registered for the process but have not yet been audited.
On 14 January, nominations for the Advisory Council on the awarding of Qualité français langue étrangère certification are published in official bulletin BO n°2 dated 14 January 2010. On 26 October, the fourth interim assessment reports 118 registered centres and 82 certified centres. The directory of French as a foreign language centres becomes a directory of Qualité français langue étrangère certified centres and now contains only those centres that have obtained the State certification. The certification scheme has continuously evolved since it was created. The improvement process is based on recommendations made by the Advisory Council and takes the opinions of professionals into account. The CIEP has joined forces with an external expert from the Council of Europe, Franck Heyworth, and ergonomist Laurence Trebucq, representing auditors, both members of the Advisory Council, to provide solutions to the demands of professionals. Some of these have been validated by the Interministerial Committee of 12 October. The reports produced by the Advisory Council since 2006 are available in the area reserved for certified centres. Summaries of the conclusions reached by the Interministerial Certification Committee have been available to all since 12 October 2010. See the Downloads section.
January: the new version of the framework updated by the CIEP goes online. February: launch of the www.qualitefle.fr website for professionals. A second site is created exclusively for FFL players in France and abroad with the aim of improving communications with this audience regarding the certification. April: at the request of the Chairman of the Advisory Council, Xavier North, Delegate General to the French Language and Languages of France (Ministry for Culture and Communication), a permanent working group comprising project coordinators from the CIEP and representatives of professional groups is put together. The decision is then made to create two sub-groups that will meet on a quarterly basis. One sub-group will focus on identifying national and international events that will help increase the visibility of the certification on the international stage. The second will work on updating the certification framework. On 29 November 2011 a framework agreement is signed between the CIEP and the Campus France agency. The implementation of this partnership is intended to strengthen the respective public service missions of each of the establishments.
In March, the permanent working group decides to create a new website for the certification. This site will stem from the merger of the two existing sites, which are not suited to the growing demand on the part of Internet-users and professionals. The specifications are finalised in July. The CIEP is entrusted with the task of creating the site. Nominations for the certification's Advisory Council: two new members are appointed on 13 September. A list of these twelve new figures is published in official bulletin BO n°34 on 20 September 2012. On 22 November the Interministerial Certification Committee validates the new version of the framework. This tool is the result of consultation within the permanent working group, which met between April 2011 and October 2012.
January: the new version of the framework is made available to centres and auditors via the site reserved for professionals www.qualitefle.fr. This will come into effect on 15 May. On 15 April, the tools pertaining to the new framework are made available online. On 18 July, the new website for the Apprendre le français en France certification is launched. This site, translated into five languages (French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese), stems from the merger of the two existing sites. Equipped with a more efficient search engine, the new site gives certified centres the option of managing their information themselves with regards to the exclusively French part of the site. The Répertoire des centres labellisés (Directory of Certified Centres) is replaced by the Guide des centres labellisés (Guide to Certified Centres). This new, bilingual (French and English) brochure takes a lighter format, with 41,000 copies now printed. 37,000 copies are distributed across the diplomatic network and the remaining copies at trade shows both in France and abroad.
Signing of an agreement between the Commission des Titres d’Ingénieurs (Engineering Qualifications Committee, CTI) and the CIEP on 28 January 2014. This agreement outlines the general framework for cooperation between these two institutions, and at international level in particular. With this in mind, the partnership aims to promote FFL training courses in engineering colleges and to promote the teaching of French as part of engineer training courses accredited by the CTI and recognised by the French State.