Different faces of language learning

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Each year in September Europe celebrates multilingualism. For many of us, learning a language mostly involved memorising grammar and vocabulary, however, learning a language can be much more than a chore. This article explores four inspiring projects showing different ways of learning languages.

Dyslang: making the impossible possible

How can those with learning disabilities be provided with the opportunity to learn a new language? How can we ensure that every learner is addressed according to his/her individual strengths and weaknesses, abilities and disabilities?

The Dyslang project (Dyslexia and Additional Academic Language Learning) believes that dyslexia is not an excuse for low ability; it is a real problem that affects the learning of many individuals. The project's aim was to raise awareness of what dyslexia is and its potential impact on language learning. It also aimed to provide teachers and parents with tools and strategies to help young people cope with these problems.

The project results include an e-Learning guide and an online course for teachers and parents to help them support their students and children in learning a new language (note that registration is needed to explore the online course material).

The project was coordinated by the British Dyslexia Association and had 14 partners from five countries. It was funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme and it was awarded the “Success Story” distinction. 

Video production and language learning

Today, video as a medium is widely accessible, largely due to websites and applications like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Young people in particular love not only viewing but also making videos. The DIVIS project (Digital video streaming and multilingualism), funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme between 2008 and 2010, channelled this interest in video for language learning.

The aim of the project was to collect, design and develop helpful teaching materials and at the same time develop an awareness and enthusiasm regarding the usability of video production as a teaching tool for teacher trainers and teachers. To this end, an online manual has been created to explain the importance of sharing videos with learners from Europe, and thus also promoting intercultural understanding and linguistic diversity. The manual is available in eight languages and includes five lesson plans for students between 6 and 18 years old. The project received a “Good Practice” label for its exemplary work.

Learning a foreign language through war history

Every year a number of projects and initiatives receive a European Language Label to celebrate exemplary language learning actions across the continent. One of the awarded projects in 2016 was an eTwinning project called World War I.

Two schools from Germany and the Czech Republic worked together using English to commemorate and remember the historical events, but also to look at the sufferings of war, as captured in the journals of witnesses, in documentaries or in fiction.

The project included three phases: Getting ready, Project Days, and Follow Up. During the project days, teaching in individual subjects focused on different themes of war (such as the use of chemical weapons and the poppy workshop) and allowed cooperation among teachers of different subjects.

As part of the project, the students as a group watched the films All Quiet on the Western Front and Merry Christmas. They worked in international teams, discussed in chat rooms and wrote imaginary letters from/to the front. During art lessons, the students created a presentation of the letters and illustrations.

All other outputs are published on the project website to inspire anyone who would like to take a similar approach. The project carried out a cooperation with the regional museum and the municipal library in Vysoké Mýto, also giving a good example of effective partnership-working with local organisations.

Learning the language of laughter

The eTwinning project “Loving Laughing” brought together 28 schools across Europe to share jokes for intercultural and language learning. “Finding out that the essence of a good joke often lies in the meanings of words really motivated the students to take an interest in learning more than one language” says Hannah Boydon at Mayflower Primary School in Leicestershire. The project won the 2016 UK National eTwinning Quality Label award for ‘child-centred teaching’. 

To discover ongoing and past EU-funded projects in school education, please go to the Erasmus+ Project Results Platform.