THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
The information for the Case Study was collected during an interview with Rossella Grassi, teacher in charge of European Projects at the Technical and Vocational Institute (ITIS) “Leonardo da Vinci” of Florence, in Italy. Rossella Grassi represents the promoting institution of the LetS Go project.
The background of the LetS Go project is based on the fact that new technologies have changed training methodologies, introducing elements of innovation that have redrawn the role of language teachers and trainers. Three core competencies are necessary for language teachers / trainers wishing to make efficient use of new technologies for language teaching and training: knowing how to choose products within the available identifying those that best meet their educational needs, knowing how to use and enhance the products available either as an alternative or as integration of traditional methodologies, knowing how to create educational and training products that exploit the potential of new technologies.
The project target groups are: language teachers and language trainers.
The project target languages are potentially all, as LetS Go focuses on the implementation of a new methodology that can be applied to the teaching of all foreign languages.
The LetS Go project has the objective to provide language teachers and trainers with the skills to use new technologies in language education. The project focuses on: skills to select quality e-learning based language teaching tools; skills to effectively use innovative teaching material as an integration and/or alternative to classroom based teaching activities; skills to develop new e-learning based language teaching materials.
The main idea of the project itself is to encourage a widespread use of new technologies in the processes of education, helping teachers to overcome the technologic gap which usually drifts them away from the students. For this reason, the LeTS project developed different services addressed to university language teachers: an on online training course focusing on the criteria and instruments for the selection of language training products exploiting the ICT potential, an online training course focused on how to use e-learning products available to replace or supplement the traditional methodologies, an online training courses on how to develop language training products exploiting new technologies.
The produced results include: two transnational networks for cooperative online learning consisting of 200 teachers of languages in schools and 100 language trainers; an online database of teachers’ and trainers’ experiences in the field of application of e-learning to language education and training, an online database of reviews of e-learning based language teaching and learning products; 10 new e-learning based language teaching mini-courses; various reports on the use of the portal with students and trainees; the insertion of the LeTS Portal into national education and training systems and into school and training centres’ teaching sources.
ITIS “Leonardo da Vinci”, the LetS Go project promoter, decided to submit the application for the European Language Label with the aim to guarantee a better sustainability.
The initial expectations were completely met. First of all the project gained further visibility thanks to its presentation in the framework of an important national event (i.e. the Language Label award ceremony that was held in Rome on 24 September 2010). Also, the project visibility was implemented thanks to the insertion of LetS Go in the European Database of quality projects and then selected for the European Language Label. The greater visibility of the project promoted its sustainability as some teachers made contacts with all the partners, asking to be given access to the LetS Go portal for self training.
First of all IT IS, the project promoter, put the Label on the project portal and on all the documents related to the LetS Go project: it was the best way to certify the quality of the project itself. All the dissemination activities too were realised in the name of the brand we had received. The Label made its appearance on the channels used by the Institute (web site, facebook profile…) and a great number of schools decided to put on their homepage the direct link to the portal. A representative of ITIS (Maria Luisa Vinci) was interviewed during the Label ceremony and the interview was published on the ISFOL web site: http://www.labeleuropeo.it/premiazione/interviste.htm. This enhanced the project visibility.
The project acquired a better visibility and its quality was officially certified. In addition, teachers acquired a greater responsibility about their role. All the initiatives the school can engage in, in particular way the European projects, require a strong motivation by the teachers, who do not receive any extra salary for the time and the energies they invest in those activities. The European Language Label had a “spring” effect on teachers’ motivation: those who had given their contribution received a qualitative award for their work; those who had not taken part into the project, began to ask for information about the results and the products of the project.
In order to develop a quality project in the field of Language learning, IT IS, the project promoter, advices to deeply believe in the project itself: the first step towards the success comes from the awareness to handle a strong idea in terms of contents and purposes. Once obtained this awareness, the candidature is the following step, without any assuming conviction about the results of the award. A contest is a good way to test the results reached. The participation to the Label allows to get to know also other languages learning initiatives and to learn by them.
Schools realize a number of different initiatives but teachers have not enough time to spread them: dissemination is usually completely forgotten or not properly planned, although it is the most important part of a project. This is the main reason why most of these initiatives remain completely unknown. The Label can be the best tool to reach a greater audience and to guarantee the quality success of the project.
THE NELLIP NETWORK’S PERSPECTIVE
The NELLIP Network selected the LetS Go project for its consistency with the political priorities of the European Commission in the field of language learning. In particular, the LetS Go project has been chosen because of its consistency with the following priorities:
- Focus on teachers training. The main purpose of LetS Go is to train language teachers on the use new technologies for language teaching. Teachers’ motivation is encouraged by the possibilities offered by the project to overcome the technologic gap which usually drifts them away from the students. At the same time, the LetS Go project encourages the creativity of the teachers/trainers in developing their own language training products.
- Promotion of language learning for specific purposes. The Lets Go project indeed is specifically addressed to language trainers specialized in vocational training and to higher education languages teachers.
- Promotion of new approaches to language teaching and learning. The LetS Go project has the specific aim, as mentioned above, to train language trainers and teachers in the effective use of ICT for selecting quality language teaching sources, for using them as an integration or alternative to traditional classroom based teaching activities, for creating educational and training products that exploit the potential of new technologies.
THE NATIONAL AGENCY’S PERSPECTIVE
According to ISFOL, the LetS Go project is to be selected both as a case study and as an Italian Best Practice.
The project focuses on in service training of language trainers and teachers. It provides language trainers with online courses for the effective use of new technologies for teaching language and for creating their own e-learning based language courses.
The acquisition by language trainers and teachers of the e-learning skills proposed by the project is very relevant for the promotion of quality and innovation in language teaching, in response to the related European political priority.
The LetS project has created a valuable network among language teachers throughout Europe. The network, according to a peer to peer approach, shared assessments and evaluations of e-learning based language teaching tools that can be used for the teaching of 18 different languages including those that are less widely taught.
Over 900 e-learning language teaching products have been reviewed and uploaded on the LetS portal.
The network of language teachers and trainers also shared their experiences in using IT and e-learning for language teaching. Over 300 direct experiences in this field are described on the LetS portal. All are related to language teachers who experimented IT and e-learning in language teaching. The shared experiences are also commented by other teachers. This responds to one of the current political priorities, that is a peer to peer evaluation of language teaching performances.
Comments on this Case Studies