We wish here to present practical examples of plurilingual whole school curricula which have been developed and carried out in the PlurCur pilot schools. In so doing, we hope to show how diverse the projects were and give you ideas for starting points in your school. It will not be possible to carry out every activity or individual project mentioned in the reports in every school; rather, all individual projects must always fit into your school’s overall strategy and be in line with your school’s profile, attract interested participants and in any case be tried out several times. It is not possible to tell whether or not a project really works after carrying it out for the first time. That only becomes clear once the project has been conducted several times. The schools involved in the project found this out, too, and did not let themselves be put off by failures at the first attempt.
Projects as part of everyday school life:
Language café / Language days: Several pilot schools carried out activities involving plurilingualism on a school-wide basis – i.e. outside the classroom – and also involved parents, who, for instance, often willingly took part in the language cafés as language experts or by providing dishes from their countries of origin. The languages which were present and were spoken in individual schools were presented on posters or in language samples. The pilot school in Estonia, in particular, also invited the general public to take part in its language days and accordingly was able to publicise its work. The schools in South Tyrol reported on successful reading days held in various languages, in which parents also enjoyed taking part.
Projects as part of the curriculum:
Language week/Language detectives: During the multi-class project weeks (years 5 to 7), the school in Lüdenscheid offered “language detectives” several times as a means of applying the EuroComGerm approach (for Germanic languages) at school level. The advantage of language weeks of this kind lies in the opportunity to learn languages very intensively, while the disadvantage lies in their short-term nature. The school therefore decided to introduce an advanced version of the method as an optional subject* for older pupils in year 9 – an option which has never lacked takers to date.
Optional subjects* exist in many schools, and this is an area where it is often not difficult to find takers for courses involving plurilingualism, although it has to be acknowledged that there is often strong competition from other optional* subjects and it is primarily pupils who are in any case good at languages who are attracted. Naturally, there is nothing wrong with that, but it would also be good to attract pupils who tend not to be keen on language learning or think that it is not for them. In this context, the option available at the Heinrich-Heine-Gymnasium in Cologne is attractive, with the pupils mainly choosing it because of the acting:
Plurilingual theatre group: This option is for years 5 to 7 and involves the pupils writing their own plays, which must be plurilingual. All languages are used, not only the usual foreign languages, but also the relevant pupils’ languages of origin or other languages in their repertoires. This optional subject has been available for many years, keeps on being developed and attracts enough takers every year.
EuroComGerm: Following the extension of the plurilingual options in the school in Lüdenscheid from the language week to an optional subject*, pupils in years 7 to 9 are able to engage in cross-lingual learning for an entire school year. There are now also possibilities for applying the acquired transfer potential to other languages.
The development of joint school-wide grammar terminology is the aspect which almost all the pilot schools involved have implemented (references are made to it in nearly all the school descriptions). It is the teachers in the pilot school in Wasserburg who have acquired most experience here, and for many years they have also being trying out and further developing joint classes of several subjects, specifically in the case of co-operation between Latin and English, with the inclusion of German and the regional dialect. Well-advanced planning concerning cross-lingual activities is also reported by the participating schools in France.
Teaching about plurilingualism, which focuses on language learning strategies, awareness-raising and the potential offered by plurilingualism, is very successful in the school in Rankweil. The school has also managed to include the subject in the ordinary timetable for one hour a week, meaning that plurlingualism actually is an integral part of the curriculum. Special awareness-raising methods were also tried out in the school in Vienna.
Cross-curricular and curricular work:
The joint planning of cross-curricular teaching or teaching focusing specifically on the inclusion of languages of origin is a particular feature of the French schools. Several reports on this are posted here on the home page.
Specific cross-lingual and cross-curricular teaching of the local language (German as a second language) for pupils with other first languages or who have arrived in the country only recently is carried out in the school in Sterup and, like the examples from France, can also be transposed to other schools and countries.
The description from the school in Meran gives details of the development of joint, cross-lingual or cross-circular teaching methods and the piloting and implementation of the relevant approach.
At the start of the project, a specific number of schools which had sought to take part were involved, and they have all been active in developing ideas related to plurilingualism. In the course of time, some of these initial schools have had to leave the project for a range of different reasons, for instance because of staff changes and the sudden absence of a particularly committed individual who had always motivated everyone else to take part and stay in the project, or because of organisational and structural changes in the schools. New schools have come on board, having only found out about PlurCur very late or after the project had started. In all cases, however, we can be sure that the PlurCur seed has taken hold and that the concept of plurilingualism is definitely there to stay.
The PlurCur-Team would take this opportunity to thank all the key bodies in the European Centre for Modern Languages for approving the project and the ECML team for their valuable assistance and support during the project. We are all sure that the concept of plurilingualism will continue to develop, take shape and grow, including on the institutional and educational policy level.
* where the curriculum combines core and optional subjects