THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
The Bilfam project aims at two different target groups, which nonetheless have many things in common: children, who are at a critical time of language learning, and their parents, who need a good motivation to learn a foreign language, very often for instrumental reasons regarding work mobility, and who find it in their wish to support their children during the process of learning and practising a foreign language. The project encourages parents and grandparents to get involved in their children’s foreign language acquisition by providing them with the necessary strategies and tools through face-to-face and online tuition. Grandparents and parents can make learning fun and engaging by creating the conditions for a really enriching learning experience. Being aware of the instrumental role foreign languages may play in their offspring’s future, parents are willing to help their children learn a foreign language but they lack the confidence and tools to do so. Not only will the project help grandparents and parents teach their children the language but it will also encourage grandparents and parents to learn it.
The project involved 25 families per country. Each family was made up of at least one parent or grandparent and one or more children of three or six years old.
The target languages chosen by the Romanian group were English and German. The adults were administered a language test at the beginning of the project which showed a low level of knowledge in the foreign language. The main criteria used in the selection of the parents were their interest in their children’s linguistic performance and their own interest in language acquisition, which was considered to be essential in their future. The families were from different social strata but all of them had basic computer skills, had a computer at home.
Encouraging family foreign language learning,
Motivating parents to learn foreign languages which they can use with their children through interesting activities
Developing an innovative language learning service based on an online platform for distributing materials, training and collecting data as well as communicating within the community
Developing a positive attitude towards linguistic diversity and multiculturalism
Building up a network between those using the new methods with a view to sharing their experience and communicating
Improving communicating via forums
Encouraging bilingualism is a EU main objective because it best serves work mobility. Scientific literature has found out that FLL before the age of 8 in the context of informal education (learning by doing) can develop native speaker competence. Moreover, research on the narrative format methodology (done by the psycholinguistic faculty from the Sapientia University in Rome ) has shown that the affective relationship between the adult as model and children weighs a lot in foreign language learning.
The project quality team established at the kick off meeting devised the quality plan which covered two areas: the quality of the project structure and communication among partners as well as the quality of the specific activities of the project, platform, tutors’ activity. The quality team produced a report every six months with recommnedation to partners. The final quality report will also take into considertation the research results.
The EuroEd project team devised an action plan from the very beginning which was carried out and discussed /adjusted every month. Participants’ motivation has been enhanced through:
-the novelty of the method
-the diverstity of challenging activities
-elements of surprise ingrained in activities
-a relaxed atmoshere
-an appropriate level of difficulty
-the support from tutors and Bilfam community (exchange of ideas, experiences; immediate solutions to problems from tutors and community)
-evident progress in learning (nothing succeeds like success)
Face-to-face tutorials for parents: the narrative format, bilingualism
Online platform where parents reflect on their learning experiences
Family activities (films, materials, exchanges of ideas posted on the platform)
Articles based on the data collected
Other expected results
-Raising the motivation of learning of a foreign language by adults and children,
-Encouraging learning which involved different generations within a family,
-Building up a Bilfam online community,
-Encouraging good communication and excellent family relationships,
-Enhancing foregn language motivation and increased self-esteem,
-Supporting intergenerational learning,
-Creating a positive attitude towards multilingualism, creating better contextual conditions for the multulingual education that serves work mobility
The piloting of this model is being used by the Psycholinguistics Department of the University of Rome as an example of the way bilingualism works not only as a spontaneous but also as a guided phenomenon. The model underlines the role of emotions and feelings in learning foreign languages both at a young age and by adults, as well as the role of motivation in learning foreign languages. The study highlights the effect of intergenerational learning and of the consolidation of learning through teaching and practice, the role of the narrative format and of play in learning. The prototype is classic but its application in the field of languages and particularly the implications of learning on both categories makes this model a remarkable and transferable one.
The project has a great impact on the participant families. Spending time together and playing with Hocus and Lotus in English or German, daily or several times a week, has many positive effects on both children and adults. It has led to good communication and excellent family relationships. The project has given an alternative to quality family time: they have spent their time by speaking a foreign language learnt together. The adult has felt satisfied because he has learned together with the child and motivated to act as he wished.
The project provided an innovative solution as regards bilingualism. For the first time parents were given a valid instrument to facilitate their children’s acquisition of two languages. The project also motivates the learning of a foreign language by adults and children, encouraging learning which involved different generations within a family. This objective is achieved by adapting the Narrative Format method, the Hocus and Lotus materials, to the context of the family. These materials provide a very creative and varied support and background for foreign language learning activities (video, songs, printed material, DVDs). The model also gives bilingualism another dimension, which is in tune with EU main objectives because it best serves work mobility.
15 dissemination activities (PPT of the project): project meetings, conferences, seminars
The project bases its educational model on intergenerational learning. It provides a new approach and resources to (grand)parents with no or little FL competences for their direct involvement in their children’s foreign language acquisition. The process shows a dramatic impact on everybody’s foreign language acquisition (children and adults) along the way. It works well due to the fact that (grand)parents spend a lot of time with their children and can follow their development throughout the years, offering them input. (Grand)parents can leverage the emotional bond to make learning fun and engaging, creating the conditions for a really enriching learning experience.
Plan your steps in detail and reflect and ask for feedback from participants
Focus on the participants and try to keep them motivated (engage their intellect as well as their emotions)
Balance between theory and practice
Flexibility of ideas
Exchange of ideas and experiences
Comments on this Case Studies