THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
The “Marcel Guguianu” Agricultural School Group functions in Zorleni, a village located at 7 kilometres from Bârlad, Vaslui County, a county with an increased unemployment rate (9,5% at that moment, 4,4% being the average in our country then). This high school functioned, and still does, in a disadvantaged area from an economic point of view and the predominating living activity remains agriculture. The majority of the students attending our school came from disadvantaged families, with one or both unemployed parents who earned their living from agricultural activities on their own farm. Moreover, in this institution there were also orphan pupils or pupils coming from gypsy families. A strong argument in this respect was that 41 % of the entire number of students from the day courses, benefited from the governmental program “Money for High School”. In addition to this fact, there were also students in our school coming from mono parental families or even from orphanages. Many students had one or both of their parents gone to work in different UE countries and they had been left in the care of their relatives or even alone.
We selected for the target group, students who would have benefited the most from this project, promoting chance equality (19 girls and 11 boys). 72% came from socio-economically disadvantaged families and some had emigrated parents. The project was designed to contribute to the proficiency of the better students and motivate the weaker ones to study more.
When we were planning the project, we were thinking at the Structural Funds, meant to bring a lot of foreign investments in Romanian agriculture and knowing English, together with the speciality knowledge, represented an advantage for the future employees. A SWOT analysis, realised in our school, concluded that among its weak points there was the low level of knowledge of English. We were aware that knowing several foreign languages was essential for the future employees and having abilities better suited to the demand on the work market would have helped them integrate easier. Many children had parents who had left to work in Italy. Learning Italian, represented more possibilities for these families to reunite after these children would have graduated, and to find them a job. Also, the children from Italy would have learnt Romanian through the project, knowing better the Romanian culture and civilization, understanding Romanians better and communicating better with these, especially that in schools there were many children of Romanian immigrants.
O1- to enhance the linguistic competences (for English, Italian, Romanian) of the participants in the project and to enrich their vocabulary with specific terms from these fields: agriculture, rural landscape and ecology;
O2- to familiarize the students with the culture and civilization of the people of the partner school, as a part of foreign language study (English, Italian / Romanian);
O3 - to stimulate and consolidate innovation and creativity;
O4 - to use the modern information technologies during the implementation of the project;
O5 - to promote the education for environmental protection.
- active involvement of the students in the project activities: the writing of the project proposal, planning, documentation, adaptation and translation of the information, accomplishment of the end products, evaluation and dissemination;
- exchanges of teachers and students during which they worked together at the project and took part in the didactic activities from the host school;
- permanent communication between students in the project languages and also in the partners’ languages, using modern technologies of communication: the Internet, Messenger, Web Camera, Video Conferences;
- contest integrated language learning during lessons;
- integration of some lesson sequences which included the learning of specialty expressions in English, as an innovating element;
- activities involving knowing more about the culture and civilization of the people of the partner school by the knowledge of rural landscape as expression of the people culture;
- realisation of some informative materials in English.
Evaluation targeted everybody involved in the project: headmasters, teachers, students. Various techniques were used to evaluate the work done: questionnaires, open questions and discussions, encouraging pupils to evaluate the project in a more creative way.
The evaluation of the project supposed:
- to plan the evaluation;
- to gather the evidences;
- to analyze and interpret the evidences;
- to use the analysis in order to implement the necessary changes;
- to mention the information in the final balance sheet.
The evaluation was done
- after the selection of the target team
- during the project activities
- before and after the students’ exchanges
- at the end of the project
We evaluated: the level of linguistic preparation, the quality of the developed activities, of the accomplished materials, the activity of each school, the degree of involvement in the team activities and the level of communication, the impact on the target group, the cooperation between the partners as to establish the necessary improvements.
There were used:
- product analyses.
a Quantitative results:
- 30 students improved their English language skills and acquired minimum competencies of Italian
- 10 teachers improved their English language skills and acquired minimum competencies of Italian
- 3 trilingual end products, in digital and paper format
- 17 mobilities in Italy to the partner school
- A Comenius billboard promoting project activities
- 150 promotion leaflets
- 5 articles in the press
- 3 TV appearances presenting project activities
- 14 portfolios of activities
- A documentation visit
- A photo exhibition
- 15 PowerPoint presentations
- A team with experience in developing and implementing projects
b. Qualitative results:
- Improvement of students’ academic performance in English
- Improvement of the education process using the end products in our educational activity
- Improvement the teaching activity as a result of the experience acquired
- Promotion and improvement of the image of the school in the community
- Increase of students and teachers’ involvement in extracurricular activities
- Increased team spirit among students and teachers
Results were consistent with the initial plans and end users’ expectations. We accomplished our objectives and had the desired results.
We evaluated the quality of the results based on the degree of fulfillment of project objectives.
The impact was:
At the students’ level:
- Improvement of the school performances through the acquisition of new knowledge of English and of their speciality;
- Improvement of the results obtained at the English language examination they had at the end of the upper secondary level of school;
- Increase of the chances of finding a job after graduation, due to the acquisition of new English and specialty competence;
- Development of the abilities of communication and use of modern information technologies;
- Understanding of the diversity of the European cultures, languages and values;
- Development of a better understanding of today’s multicultural society;
- Increase of the level of general culture;
- Promotion of the team spirit;
- Development of critical thinking, creativity and the synthesis capacity;
- Realization of the importance of lifelong learning for building-up the personality and the efficient integration in society.
Many students had one or both parents gone in Italy to work. This project helped them learn the language and understand better the culture and civilisation of the country in which their parents were. Knowing Italian increased the possibility of social and professional integration in the case of family reunion.
At the school and teachers’ level:
- Increase of the competitive level of the school as a result of the implementation of modern teaching strategies learned in the project and development of teachers’ linguistic competences and ICT skills;
- Increase of the trust in our school as a result of the students’ participation in European partnership projects;
- Increase of the prestige of the institution as a result of the promotion of the school image at a local, national and international level;
- Promotion of the concept of European citizenship in our school;
- Gaining of experience in achieving and implementing projects as a team with richer information and cultural baggage.
We were motivated to apply for European Language Label in order to:
-promote the innovation in foreign languages teaching and learning brought by this project
- disseminate information on the project
- support the sustainability of project results
- improve and promote the image of the school
- give an example of successful project implementation
- inspire and encourage others to apply for this kind of initiative
The methodology for applying for European Language Label respected the procedures published by ANPCDEFP. Certain European and national criteria were used to evaluate the application form.
Our expectations, when applying for European Language Label, were to receive the due appreciation for this project and promote more our school at a national and European level.
We promoted the fact that our school received the ELL certificate, with the project "Agricultural and Environmental English" in school and the community, through local media.
We used the ELL image in promotional materials for our school. We disseminated the information and encouraged other institutions and organizations to participate in the competition.
Although the satisfaction of obtaining the certificate was great, there aren’t many benefits for the winners.
Receiving ELL, gave a boost to this project’s promotion and supported its result sustainability. This also helped us promote our school as a very active one at an European level.
We consider that a better promotion of the institutions and winning projects would be useful. Helpful would be also organizing experience exchanges with the participation of the winning organizations and giving them a financial support to achieve and implement other projects.
The impact of receiving ELL consisted in a promotion of our school and this project in the community and larger educational community.
The impact was consistent with our initial expectations.
Our advice for the future applicants is to fill in the application form with care according to the given instructions, and emphasize the innovative character of the applications and the impact of linguistic skills development on the target group.
We suggest future applicants to come up initiatives promoting the most attractive language learning methods. The key for success is choosing attractive subjects which engage students in projects developing foreign language skills.
We advice future applicants: to use the examples of good practices, experience and end products of the awarded ELL initiatives. The awarded projects may be sources of inspiration for these future applicants.
THE NELLIP NETWORK’S PERSPECTIVE
The project is consistent with the current policies. It is focused on learning mobilities, it aims at improving employment-related languages skills, it involves teaching / learning methodologies specific to VET, it includes less-widely used languages (English, Romanian, Italian) and a cultural dimension in a professional field (work relationships in a multicultural team).
The project is consistent with the European, National and yearly priorities.
It provides added value, it motivates the students and the teachers to improve their language skills, it is original and creative.
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