Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education: a critical topic all over Europe
On 7 and 8 February 2023, the project team held a workshop which brought together 27 participants from ECML member States and even one from Canada, mainly in Graz, but also online. The main ideas of the project and its first results were presented, in particular the chapters of the planned Manual for teachers, teacher educators, instructors and decision makers. The workshop provided participants with an opportunity to discuss the chapters in detail and also to suggest contributions themselves. The participants appreciated the exchange with colleagues from different countries within a like-minded community, with many of them planning to integrate ideas from the event into their work practice. During the discussions, the importance of languages and plurilingual/intercultural competences in vocational training and cross-border working environments was once again unanimously stressed. For the team and the associate partners, the workshop confirmed the relevance of its work and the decisions taken so far. The team is now highly motivated to complete the planned Manual, in dialogue with the different target groups.
Claudia Polzin-Haumann, project coordinator
ECML project “Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education (initial/in-service)”: highlights of the year 2022
Throughout 2022, the project was presented and discussed in a variety of contexts. The feedback
received helped the project team, coordinated by Claudia Polzin-Haumann, not only to improve the work being carried out, but also demonstrated how much interest there is in the topic of languages of cross-border vocational education. The highlight of the year was without doubt the network meeting in October 2022 which offered the opportunity for exchange with a wide range of professionals – from practitioners to researchers, teacher educators and administrators. The momentum generated by these discussions has provided impulses for the further elaboration of the planned Manual – and more than anything else, it has shown once again that the product is very much needed and awaited. The team can look back at a successful year and start the last phase of the project with energy and confidence in order to finalise the resources.
ECML Language education in cross-border vocational education network meets
A network meeting full of fruitful discussions and collaborative work
On 11-12 October 2022, the core team members of the project invited experts for the network meeting to Graz. Nine experts – from practitioners to researchers to administrators with different decision-making abilities and needs – joined us for two days and we had the chance to see the project from new perspectives. The exchange and the discussions with the experts were extremely fruitful.
It became clear that despite the differences and individual needs, all neighbouring regions have similar problems. This became a key realisation for the Guide which is being prepared – it is not possible to address all the needs, but instead to focus on the ones we have in common. Similarities bind people together– our common vision has been confirmed. The great variety of perspectives aided not only with sharpening our understanding of needs, but also contributed to the production of valuable materials, giving a clearer vision of how to proceed with the creation of the Guide.
The meeting deepened the knowledge of the key team members, but more importantly acted as an energy boost, by showing how much the product is needed and awaited. What was most important: the participants discovered not only similarities in their perspectives and expectations but also made friends both on an academic and on a personal level.
Authors: Barbara Morcinek-Abramczyk, Vaida Misevičiūtė, Claudia Polzin-Haumann
Voices from the network meeting: video in Czech, German, French and Lithuanian
ECML project website “Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education education (initiale/in-service)” (2020-2023): www.ecml.at/crossbordervocationaleducation (available in English and French)
Cross-border vocational education : regional practices and realities
The ECML project “Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education” (2020-2023) was presented within the framework of the international conference “Cross-border work in Europe: Regional practices and realities – Le travail transfrontalier en Europe: pratiques et réalités régionales” (5-6 May 2022) in the Grand-Duché of Luxemburg.
Christina Reissner (Universität des Saarlandes / Center for Border Studies. Germany), one of the associate partners of the project, presented a contribution “La formation professionnelle transfrontalière dans différentes régions – « same but different » ?”.
The project focuses on innovative processes which facilitate the crossing of linguistic and cultural borders as well as on the development of CLIL methodology in professional settings, connecting research to real needs on the ground. The outputs expected for 2023 include a manual for educators in cross-border environments, working with younger learners in vocational education or with adults in professional education. The manual will include guidelines and training modules, as well as a teacher portfolio based on the European Language Portfolio.
Language skills and inter- and multicultural competences: the most important benefits and challenges of cross-border vocational education
Many thanks to all those who completed the survey!
The analysis shows the extremely complex situation of languages in cross-border education. All participants strongly agreed that language skills and language learning in general are advantageous for professional success. The vast majority of participants also agreed that language proficiency in neighbouring language(s) is important to improve chances of finding work. Knowledge of the culture(s) was considered almost as important when cooperating with neighbouring countries. However, despite this acknowledgment, neighbouring languages are not always used equally. With regard to teaching programmes, participants stated that cross-border cooperation was included, but the majority was not satisfied with its implementation. Accordingly, language barriers still impede cross-border cooperation; language teaching and learning is not integrated sufficiently into the programmes. Another challenge seems to exist in the imbalance and different status that is connected to languages, e.g. one language may dominate another or language knowledge is not symmetrically developed on both sides of the border. The findings reveal that English is often preferred in language education, while neighbouring languages are of lesser importance. Thus, fostering language skills and inter- and multicultural competences are at the same time the most important benefits and challenges of cross-border vocational education programmes.
Claudia Polzin-Haumann, Sabine Ehrhart
Survey on languages and intercultural proficiency in cross-border working environments: first insights
What do teachers, teacher educators, learners, political and economic stakeholders think about languages, plurilingualism and intercultural proficiency in cross-border working environments? What are their experiences? What are the main difficulties? In order to learn more about these questions, the members of the project “Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education” launched a survey focused on the different stakeholders in the fields of education, the economy and politics in different border regions. The first instructive insights were discussed during a project team meeting on 15th and 16th November. Although there is a wide range of answers to certain questions, not surprisingly, in view of the specificity of each border region, there is great unanimity on certain issues, first and foremost: knowing languages is an asset for professional success. The detailed analysis of all the responses will be helpful for developing concepts and pedagogical materials.
Claudia Polzin-Haumann, project coordinator
Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education - Take part in the survey open until 31 December 2021!
This survey is directed at people engaged in language education and who live and/or work in a border region: teachers, teacher educators, students, researchers and others involved in professional and vocational training.
The aim of the survey is to help prepare a manual for teacher educators, teachers and their students with an interest in promoting language learning in cross-border vocational education and training.
In border regions, where different languages and cultures come into close contact, language learning and teaching can be considered as decisive when it comes to creating a successful cross-border labour market. However, practice and research show that specific concepts for language learning and teaching in vocational education contexts in border regions are still lacking. The project is pooling expertise from different border regions in an attempt to address this gap.
This survey is available in English, French, German, Czech, Lithuanian, and Polish.
You can access the survey here until 31 December 2021: https://crossbordervocationaleducation.questionpro.com
The project team
Border regions: areas of high complexity – model regions for a Europe that is growing together
What makes border regions so special? Border regions are special areas from different points of view, and the “border character” can be quite different. Borders may be visible (e.g. national borders) or invisible (e.g. territories that today belong to one state, but belonged to different states or other political unities during past periods). Some borders are quite stable, others arise from recent developments.
The experts involved in the project “Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education” have identified special conditions and requirements that are characteristic for the border regions involved in the project. Their reflections concern various levels: institutional teaching, individual learning, language policies, permeability of structures, not to forget attitudes and perceptions of learners and trainers…
The closing of the borders between many countries during the first wave of the Covid 19-pandemic has underlined the importance of overcoming borders. Languages and language teaching and learning prove to be more important than ever in this process. Europe is particularly created at the interfaces of border regions. Thus, the potential of border regions lies in the fact that they can be conceived as model regions for a Europe that is growing together.
Dr. Claudia Polzin-Haumann (project coordinator)
- For more information about the ECML project “Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education” (2020-2023), please visit the dedicated website: www.ecml.at/crossbordervocationaleducation (available in English and French)
Languages, plurilingualism and intercultural proficiency in cross-border working environments: What do teachers, teacher educators, learners, political and economic stakeholders think?
In order to learn more about the situation concerning these questions in the different geographical, political, economic and social contexts, the members of the project “Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education” will soon start a survey to get in touch with the different stakeholders in the fields of education, economy and politics. Their answers will help to understand the specific needs in the different (border) regions for plurilingual and intercultural education and to develop, in a next step, tailor-made concepts and pedagogical materials.
Based on their experience in their respective fields and the intense exchange during the last months, the experts from Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, Lithuania, France, Romania and Denmark are convinced that solutions to improve plurilingual and intercultural education in cross-border vocational training are possible.
Claudia Polzin-Haumann, Sabine Ehrhart
This news item results from the expert meeting of the ECML project "Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education education" (26-27 November 2020). The virtual meeting brought together the project team and associate partners: Dr. Claudia Polzin-Haumann (project coordinator), Prof. Dr. Sabine Ehrhart, Dr. Barbara Morcinek-Abramczyk, Dr. Vaida Misevičiūtė; Dr. Christina Reissner (GRETI), Fabienne Korb (ISM), Annette Falk (Goethe-Institut), Dr. Camilla Hansen (UC SYD).
How can we enhance plurilingual and intercultural proficiency in cross-border working environments?
All over Europe, cross-border training is an increasingly important topic. However, specific concepts for language learning and teaching in these contexts are still lacking. How can we create solutions for cross-border vocational training (initial/in-service) between politics, education and the non-academic field? In their first ECML project meeting, experts from Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, and Lithuania discussed the state of the art in their different border regions. They exchanged with partners from France, Denmark and Romania about specific needs for different geographical, political, economic and social contexts. The project “Grenzgänger” (www.goethe.de/france/grenzgaenger) shows interesting ideas for the French-German context.
The ECML project website “Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education” will be available soon in English and French at www.ecml.at/crossbordervocationaleducation.
The ECML project team
In border regions, promoting language learning plays a specifically important role, especially in professional and vocational education. Within the project “Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education”, a context-adapted manual will be developed and piloted in border regions, including guidelines, plurilingual and intercultural training modules and a respective teacher portfolio.
This is one of the nine new development projects encompassed within the ECML programme of activities “Inspiring innovation in language education: changing contexts, evolving competences (2020-2023).