THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
The project started in January 2010 when a municipal merger in Hämeenlinna region had just taken place. The methods were very different in teaching, informing and offering foreign languages in the schools in this new big region, also the local curricula were different.One of the main objectives of the project is to offer equal opportunities for language learning, and for choosing foreign languages, in all comprehensive schools of Hämeenlinna as well as to improve the ways of giving information about the usefulness of foreign language skills. The values of the project are customer-oriented approach and equality whihch are also the values in the strategy of Hämeenlinna. As the number of schools arose by the municipal merger, there was seen a need for strenghtening mutual cooperation and common approaches among language teachers, on the one hand, and with the stakeholders, on the other.
The project has also offered training with the aim of improving the quality of language teaching, as well as the variety of languages to be chosen. This was one of the results of the surveys that were done among the principals and teachers. Part of the motivation for learning languages has been the act on offering foreing languages for younger children. The variety of language offer in this project is based on the capacity of the language teachers in Hämeenlinna region. To be able to offer a larger variety of languages in the future, this project has tried to have an impact on the recruiting criteria, which could ensure a diverse and interesting variety af languages to be learnt. This project is part of a national Kielitivolit-project which aims at increasing the number of students studying foreign languages as well as the number of languages to be studied. This aim was realised by exploiting a large networks, and it emphasized the importance of learning languages. Diverse language skills are related in intercultural communication skills, which are part of the international education in comprehensive schools.
One of the main aims of the project, to support schools when planning the international education,is mainly based on the idea of languages' role as a tool for international skills. Enforcing the visibility and effective marketing have been the key strategies for achieving the objectives of the project.
1. Equality betweeen pupils for foreign language learning in all comprehensive schools of Hämeenlinna region = a local language learning path from the early childhood education to the secondary school.
2. Building a network of foreign language teaching for offering a larger variety of languages to be learnt and for increasing the number of foreign language learners in schools in Hämeenlinna region.
3. Initial motivation for foreign languages and cultures
4. Building the "steps" for the international education in Hämeenlinna
5. Intesification of information about learning languages
6. Enforcing the cooperation between language teachers and with stakeholders; strengthening of the common practices
7. Improvement of the quality of teaching
A project team of nine foreign language teachers from different schools and representing different languages. The coordinator worked for the city of Hämeenlinna. A large network of experts participated in the work. Team work days were organised for the teachers and lectures and workshops were organised about different topics. A close work with migrants has also been one of the key activities in the project - and this has encresed the number of languages on offer by fourteen languages. Migrant and multicultural education is participating in the events and one of the project outcomes was a publication for the migrant education, which presents in an interesting way migrant children's thoughts and is convenient for the multicultural training at schools. Solid cooperation with the stakeholders was part of the project, as well as effective information and marketing procedures.
More options for foreign language learning for all grades in comprehensive shools in Hämeenlinna region.
The description of the language learning path has supported the growth of equal opportunities for foreign language learning in Hämeenlinna.
Increase of foreign language learners' groups, and increase of cooperation between language teachers and other networks.
In the pre-primary education 12 groups (out of 19) have started to use the language materials created in Kielitivoli project. Also more materials have been asked for.
Stregthening of cooperation between teachers in different school grades.
A survey made by the students of 9th grade to the local companies about the language skills needed in the working life: this increaed the students's knowledge about wokring life requirements.
A portal about language learning: www.kielitivoli.hameenlinna.fi.
Improvement and increase of international education in comprehensive schools.
Language expositions in the center of Hämeenlinna, events in schools and "demos" of foreign languges.
All the comprehensive schools and the early childhood education in Hämeenlinna were targeted by the project. Also the upper secondary schools participated in the project activities. A significant number of language and classroon teachers participated in the actions.The project made an efficient use of local linguistic and cultural agents when enforcing the visibility and consciousness of the importance of language learning. The methods used in the project were innovative. Attention to the needs of the working life was given an extra "plus".
The results and outcomes of the project have been presented to language teachers in many events.The project takes part in many national events in 2012, and it also participates in the Multilingualism in Europe-conference in Cyprus in September, 2012.
The webportal is updated and the most relevant materials of the project will be available for all.
The reception of the Language Label has been noted by the local press.
The language label was an imposing acknowledgement for the project team and for those who participated in the project activities. It had an impact on motivation and on the comprehension of the contents of own work among the project actors. The significance of communication and cooperation was strengthened. The language label was also noticed locally. The number of invitations to events and to present the project was signifucantly increased.
It is recommended to have a clear idea of the need for the project when applying for the funding.The core project team should be named, too, at an early stage, to be able to get the project started as soon as possible. A needs analysis should be made together with the management and the actors and it should be related to the local strategies (like custom-orientation, equality, international aspects, tolerance). It is good to make a "marketing strategy" for the project's action plan: how to show the relevance of the project aims to the target groups. A good network supporting the project aims is important. Strong coordination and clear share of work tasks help to progress. It is important that the project actors feel that they are part of the actions; every one has a clear role to carry out the activitities. Close contacts to the management are crucialration(city administration and school head masters have to be included in the actions).
A good project serves a large target group and produces sustainable procedures that last also after the project period. All projects dealing with language teaching could be national / international, since the challenges are the same for all.
Language projects should provide new skills for language teachers, like understanding their changing role in the future, pure language teaching will not be enough any more. Pedagogical skills should be improved as well as should be strengthened the cooperation in the work communities.Common forums and workshops between language teachers are an efficace and cheap way of further training and of learning from the others.
THE NELLIP NETWORK’S PERSPECTIVE
1. Comprehensive approach. Every element of the language initiative should ensure that the needs of the students are identified and met.
2. Added value. Initiatives should provide a tangible improvement in the teaching and learning of languages in their national context.
3. Motivation enhancement. Initiatives should motivate the students and teachers to improve their language skills.
4. Innovation. Initiatives should be original and creative. They should introduce previously unknown approaches to language learning.
5. European emphasis. Initiatives should be adapted to Europe's linguistic diversity and make use of this advantage
A wide range of languages are offered at schools in Hämeenlinna region. Also less taught languages are taken into consideration and the work with migrants gives an important add to the languages on offer.
The project shows innovative initiative in taking proactive measures throughout different sectors to enhance language learning.
THE NATIONAL AGENCY’S PERSPECTIVE
Cooperation with the local working life and reflection on the needs of language skills in working life. Students have been encouraged to check out by themselves these needs.
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