THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
• DESCRIPTION OF THE CONTEXT AND OF THE NEEDS THE INITIATIVE RESPONDS TO:
The Cambridge Italian Club is a not-for-profit organization promoting the Italian language and the Italian culture and aiming to consolidate bilingualism and biculturalism in young children. The association has donated a large collection of Italian books for children covering different topics and learning abilities to the Cambridge Central Library. The collection along with teaching materials is open to all Italian-speaking children of the community. “Reading together” responds to parents’ needs who want to cultivate the language and the culture. The Cambridge Italian Club runs monthly an Italian reading club at the Central Library where the children are engaged in reading, singing and other activities in order to develop understanding of the language and the Italian culture. The success is based on the large turn-over of the books from the Library, the attendance at the club and the constant demand from parents for events.
• REASONS FOR SELECTING THE SPECIFIC THEMATIC AREA, TARGET GROUP AND TARGET LANGUAGE(S):
The Cambridge Italian Club realised the need in the community for a different approach to learning Italian as a second language in children from families with a least one Italian parent living in the Cambridge area. Many parents wish to keep the original language and the culture as an irreplaceable enrichment of their children’s education. The books and the “Reading together” project are mainly for children from 0 to 12 years old, although the selection is valuable for parents too. The books are a great resource to communicate and help the language learning process.
Sessions for different ages and interests are organized monthly.
Each session (1 hour) is run in the local library, in a very comfortable and familiar setting. Several books are presented and read aloud. The children are invited to draw pictures, we use projection of pictures to help with comprehension, and they are constantly engaged with questions and singing. Each session explores several topics: festivities, famous people, nature, science, comics…
• APPROACH ADOPTED IN THE PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE INITIATIVE:
We have at the moment around 400 books and we are planning to expand the collection every year with at least 100 new books. We carefully choose the titles and selected topics in order to respond to all the needs of the young learner and the needs of children who become more confident in the use of language. The Cambridge Italian Club has established collaborations with schools and libraries in Italy to exchange books and keep the selection fresh and attractive.
• PROJECT MANAGEMENT STRATEGY AND APPROACH ADOPTED - IDENTIFICATION OF STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THIS:
We are confident that the books are appreciated by the Italian community based on the high demand and turn-over of the books at the Library. Certainly an important point is the social element; children are motivated if meeting in a friendly and fun atmosphere. We carefully select books for different ages; recently we have decided to introduce sets of books to boost independent reading.
• STRATEGIES USED FOR FOSTERING LEARNER MOTIVATION:
“Reading Together” is a fun activity, reading is part of everyday routine and reading in Italian can be equally easy, rewarding and fun. The children are engaged in team activities, games, and use of props such as puppets.
• SYSTEM OF PROJECT EVALUATION USED: The major evaluation criterion is attendance at reading sessions and also the number of books requested from the Library. The children are happy and the last few sessions the most talented have started to read aloud to the youngest simple texts or poetry to facilitate independent reading.
Also, in the last year other groups: French, Polish and Spanish have approached the Cambridge Central Library and started the same activities.
• OUTCOMES AND ‘DELIVERABLES’ PRODUCED:
“Reading together” is very successful for the Italian community and the families and children have attended regularly. New families joined and a general positive reputation has been established in the community.
•CONSISTENCY OF THE OUTCOMES WITH INITIAL PLANS AND WITH THE EXPECTATION OF THE END USERS:
The project is now in the fourth year, and we consider the project well established in the community. Parents are fully involved in the organization and new
Ideas have been put forward . We believe the project meets the expectations.
•WAS AN ASSESSMENT OF THE QUALITY OF THE OUTCOMES CARRIED OUT? IF SO, WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING INDICATORS WERE USED?
- Originality and innovative aspects of the outcomes: The project was based on an original idea of some Italian parents, the children well responded to the initiative .
- Potential transferability of the initiative: French, Polish and Spanish group have created similar activities at the Central Library.
*IMPACT OF THE PROJECT
The monthly reading became popular and well established in the Italian community .
• MOTIVATIONS LEADING TO THE APPLICATION FOR THE EUROPEAN LANGUAGE LABEL:
To share our idea with other groups and different languages and culture.
We appreciated that the European Language Label was a good opportunity
to promote our project.
•PROCEDURE USED FOR APPLYING FOR THE EUROPEAN LANGUAGE LABEL:
We followed the instructions reported in the application form.
•INITIAL EXPECTATIONS (WERE THE INITIAL EXPECTATIONS MET?):
We are very satisfied of the outcomes. Certainty the award helps to attract more interest from schools and the general public.
•DISSEMINATION AND EXPLOITATION INITIATIVES:
A local newspaper published a small article on our activities at the Library.
The Central Library also published a press release explaining the collaboration and
the importance of the section of books in Italian as a great resource for families and teachers.
A small event was organised in the presence of the city councillor for education of Cambridge for the presentation of the award. The award is now on display at the Central Library for public view.
•BENEFITS FOR THE INITIATIVE AND THE ORGANISATION(S) INVOLVED OF HAVING BEEN AWARDED THE ELL
This award has been a great opportunity to generate more interest on the Italian language and culture in young children.
•IMPACT OF THE INITIATIVE FOLLOWING THE AWARD OF THE ELL:
The award reinforces the motivation of Italian parents to belong to the Cambridge Italian Club, who worked very hard in creating the Italian section of books at the Library. Also the award contributed to the trust of the Italian Club.
•CONSISTENCY OF THE IMPACT WITH INITIAL EXPECTATIONS:
We are fully satisfied with the outcome of the award, although we would have loved to get a little funding
The Cambridge Italian Club has developed carefully each stage of the project and reassessed it according with the children responses.
THE NELLIP NETWORK’S PERSPECTIVE
"EU language policies aim to protect linguistic diversity and promote knowledge of languages – for reasons of cultural identity and social integration, but also because multilingual citizens are better placed to take advantage of the educational, professional and economic opportunities created by an integrated Europe. The goal is a Europe where everyone can speak at least two other languages in addition to their own mother tongue". This project was clearly in line with both these policies since maintaining the other languages used by members of the community is a means of mintaining and developing the community's multilingualism and of ensuring thatat least two languages are spoken by the end of schooling.
EU priorities for 2010-2011 were: a)language learning in the community and b) language skills as preparation for work. Again, the project was driven by part of the community (and has since expanded to other parts). Children with Italian in addition to English should be better prepared for the world of work.
THE NATIONAL AGENCY’S PERSPECTIVE
WHAT ARE THE THREE MOST IMPRESSIVE ASPECTS OF THIS PROJECT?
•This is a genuine cross generational activity, involving parents (grandparents) and children in language and cultural maintenance within Italian bilingual communities
•It has been developed by a group of Italian parents, keen to share their family values, involve their children in a relaxed social setting and to make the most of their Italian heritage, traditions and language. The project has become a coherent and exciting programme supported across the community. The involvement of the Cambridge Central Library means that the group has a public space for its activities and also that the library is able to enhance its own resources as well as providing a large number of well chosen Italian books and resources for the children. The commitment and enthusiasm of its organisers are stunning.
•The project has been run at very low cost through community involvement and an innovative exchange element to obtain books and materials. It has also secured sponsorship and support from the Italian Consulate and from publishers.
HOW DOES THE PROJECT MEET THE JUDGING CRITERIA?
•Innovative: We have never come across a project with such impact in the area of family reading and bilingualism. It is more than a practical response to need as the project has developed a coherent rationale for bilingual support.
•Replicable:This project can be replicated in other parts of the country and for other languages. More than this the CIC Leggiamo Inseme project provides a replicable model for action. Already there is interest in Cambridge for a Polish version and other Italian groups from London and the North have contacted CIC for advice.
•Effective:The Club has expanded from 22 families in 2006 to 130 currently. This includes families across Cambridgeshire. Events are well attended and the enthusiasm of children and parents is clear to see.
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