THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
Background (by Loreta Chodzkiene – Project coordinator)
The idea of the Lingua 1 project "Open to Every Citizen" was a reply to the event on 1st of May 2004 when the three Baltic states joined the European Union. This fact proved to be a catalyst for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to "speak out" to the other member states of the Union. The Coordinating institution, the Institute of Foreign Languages, Vilnius University searched for the most attractive way to present the widely and less widely spoken languages and found it in the most valuable heritage - music.
The idea of bringing the countries of the East (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) and the West (UK, Italy, Spain) together via two basic lines in the project - linguistic and musical - determined the overall structure of the project, type, content and titles of the project outputs: Song Book, Leaflets of Songs, five books under the melodious titles "Do", "Re", "Mi", "Fa", "Sol". Basic Language promotional activities were carried out at the Joint concerts (performed by one choir from the East and the other - from the West) in Vilnius, Riga, Arezzo, La Laguna and London. Choir Exchange visits encompassed a Cultural programme: sightseeing the famous places in the Partner town and country the descriptions and photos of which were purposefully included in the project books "Mi" and "Fa". When the preparatory job was done by the Language Promoters and Choir Conductors at the 1st and 2nd stages of the project, the floor was passed over to the choristers whose transformation from language learners to language teachers was incredibly visible and very enjoyable by the participants themselves: they were the first to learn the peculiarities of each target language, and further, they became a tool to disseminate the targeted languages in the shape of a song to the general public at concerts, that, naturally, involved a much bigger number of the audience perceiving the target languages in a more passive way. Since the idea of the project "Open to Every Citizen" encouraged every chorister to become a promoter of his/her native language and an "ambassador" of his/her country the participants accepted that challenge with a great responsibility. That task enhansed their capacities for a certain range of unexpected manifestations: breaking the ingrained tradition of standing in rows while singing in a choir, giving preferance to circling the audience, mingling with the audience or using visual aids while performing songs (e.g. candles) to convey the content meaning of a performed song. The newly established language promoters also had a special task to encourage the audience members to take up a new foreign language learning, thus, the distribution of Song leaflets at the concerts served not only the didactic function but also helped us to direct the future learners' steps towards Language teaching centres (due to the Language centre addresses printed on the Song Leaflets). The Choir Exchange visits were part of the communicative approach when the project participants were provided with an opportunity of being brought to a completely new linguistic environment just with the survival phrases of the project outputs "Do", "Re", "Mi', "Fa" and "Sol". Naturally, working together in an international team triggered evident manifestations of individual contributions. For the above mentioned reasons we could conclude that the Project "Open to Every Citizen have contributed in many fields to the requirement of Lingua Action which intends to raise citizens' awareness of the multilingual character of the Union and the advantages of lifelong learning.
( by Loreta Chodzkiene)
The main goal of the Choir visits was not only to develop the project participants' real-life survival competences but also let people feel strong about their national identity. In view of the fact that all the project choirs were involved in the European project for the first time the project final events: joint rehearsals, thematic evening parties, recording songs on a CD together and even the fact of singing together in each other's languages at the Gala concert for the crowds of people at the Fair of European Days organized by the Vilnius Municipality let them feel the power of different nations working, creating and sharing results together. The final product of the project, a CD, becomes to be the evidence and a visiting-card of common work in a European project.
( by Loreta Chodzkiene)
Bearing in mind the key message of Socrates Lingua 1 programme which states that "language learning must be fun, useful and anyone can do it" and H.Gardner's concept of "Multiple intelligences" the project Language Promoters and Choir Conductors targeted one of the nine disciplines - musical/rhythmic - thus, focusing on music as a powerful stimulus for learners' engagement to learn a language. Music speaks directly to our emotions while still allowing and even coaxing us to analyze it. A piece of music changes the atmosphere in the learning environment: it can amuse and entertain and it can make a satisfactory connection between the world of leisure and the world of learning. However, the concept of music is too broad, therefore, we focused just on one element of it - the song. To sing a song in its original language is a fun, meaningful and easy way to memorize words, expressions and even the whole chunks of language. One can experiment and get the feeling of the language through singing. But music is also culture, representing the whole Nation. Thus, singing a song in its original language means getting in touch with that culture: its images, landscapes, sensitivity, musical motives and, above all, its language.The project gave the participants the opportunity to think and learn beyond the music and notes: to get familiar with the Partner countries and their culture.
( by Loreta Chodzkiene
Each project product had its definite purpose and was closely related to the demand in each project phase. That is why their sequence was the following one:
The project website: http://www.opentoeverycitizen.uki.vu.lt
The logo sign to portray the idea of the project – openness to every Citizen of Vilnius, Riga, Tartu, La Laguna, Arezzo and Surrey County willing to learn six target languages.
A Selection of 18 national Songs + the Anthem of Europe (arranged music and words translated in all six target languages) became a manual for all the singers of the choirs. )
Handouts for three language input sessions to introduce the choir singers to the phonetic peculiarities of each target language and the minimum of lexis necessary to understand the realia in each song.
Booklets (in six languages) on language topics under melodious titles such as “Do” (About Me), “Re” (About My School/Job), “Mi” (About My City), “Fa” (About My Country), “Sol” (About Us, Europeans). These nicely designed booklets, self-learning language manuals were the tools for gaining survival level of linguistic competence and encouragement for taking further steps in language studies.
Concert flyers. The content of the concert flyers include the words of the songs sung and some catchy phrases in the target language(s) spoken at the music event. The addresses of available Language resource centers are also included there.
Posters promoting the aims of the project, encouraging people to learn target languages and advertising the project events.
CD comprising 18 songs + the Anthem of Europe. Seeking to keep the balance, every target language were represented by three national songs. It is the final product of the project, a proof that a language learning process via the song can be enjoyable.
( by Loreta Chodzkiene)
Lingua 1 project “Open to Every Citizen” was unique by its nature, i.e. non-traditional way of teaching a language – via a song; non-traditional teacher – a choir singer who is expected to escape his static position in a choir row, but become active, encouraging and involving the listener into the language learning process.
Furthermore, the schedules of choirs as artistic companies cover concert visits to many countries which provided us with opportunities to be heard worldwide.
The release of a CD was a stimulus to work hard for many musicians. As CD is considered to be a visiting-card for each music company, therefore, the project CD was a matter of honour to each choir singer. It was also be disseminated during choir concerts at national and international levels.
( by Loreta Chodzkiene)
Phase Three that included partners’ activities to disseminate the project and its outputs at national and international levels, i.e. to present a CD, ‘Selection of Songs’ at concerts, public gatherings and through the local mass media contributed much to the fame of the project. Besides, the Lithuanian National TV, a partner of our project, advertised the outcomes of the project and prepared a programme on the project and its outputs, involved participants of different nationalities and target group members to share their impressions on the impact of the project.
The success of the project and the following ELL award contributed favourably to the building up of the profile of the Institute of foreign languages ( Vilnius University) and, in a way, gave rise to participating in other EC projects
To be innovative and make the language study interesting and entertaining.
THE NELLIP NETWORK’S PERSPECTIVE
•Added value in the national context: involving broader community/public
•Motivation: attractive and enjoyable learning environment
•Original and creative approach – beyond traditional language learning means
•Diversification of the languages on offer – the project built on both widely and less widely used languages of Europe
•promotion of new approaches to language teaching and learning: involving informal and entertaining elements; extending learning beyond classroom, involving community
•promotion of the development of teaching material for the learning of less widely spoken languages: attractive website with language support materials in six languages
•employment of the languages of the neighboring countries ( Latvia, Estonia)
THE NATIONAL AGENCY’S PERSPECTIVE
The project ‘Open to Every Citizen’ was very creative and interesting project. The song as a mean of verbal communication was chosen for the project. Due to this fact, the project increased people's motivation for learning a foreign language and showed that learning languages is fun and joyful. The results of the project were very effective and informative.
(by Justina Baliunaite)
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