Continuing the cooperation with the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) and the European Commission, together with the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, an interesting workshop was held at Vladimir Prelog High School in Zagreb on 12-13 September 2016. The 17 participants, teachers of foreign languages (English, German, French and Italian) as well as representatives of the Ministry and the Education and Teacher Training Agency, were offered a series of lectures on plurilingual and intercultural competences. The moderators of the event, Anna Maria Curci and Michel Candelier, touched upon many topics important for plurilingualism and intercultural dimensions to be incorporated into the Croatian education system.
In today's world, especially in Europe, we are aware of the changes that we face every day, especially when it comes to many, relatively unknown cultures, that increasingly appear in our communities, and thus at our schools. A growing number of refugees and immigrants in our region make the need to understand different cultures and languages all the more important.
This two-day professional development workshop made it possible to have a closer look at the knowledge and skills that we have acquired and mastered in a (foreign) language in order to understand and speak additional languages. A list of descriptors (Knowledge, Attitudes and Skills) as well as sources are available on the website of http://carap.ecml.at where users can find useful online materials in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
In addition, discussions were held considering the new curriculum and CLIL, as well as the understanding of related languages. We discovered that, in fact, we understand many more languages than we think we do and that we have to remind our pupils / students that plurilingual understanding is actually much more present than we think. Our teaching should contribute to better awareness of this fact.
The local organiser: Ingrid Jurela-Jarak
The training event held in Zagreb on 12 and 13 September 2016 brought together some 20 foreign language teachers, including a large majority of secondary school teachers and some teacher trainers. Most were English specialists.
Several participants had already heard of pluralistic approaches, and all of them had prior – more or less frequent – practice of connecting languages when learning. The training workshop allowed them to situate this practice within the framework of the construction of a plurilingual and pluricultural competence in accordance with the definitions of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) and to link it to the overall aims of inclusion and democratic citizenship promoted by the Council of Europe. It provided them with a range of clear didactic objectives that helped them to better target their intervention, and it presented ways of using the database of didactic materials which is available on the website dedicated to the Framework of reference for pluralistic approaches of languages and cultures (CARAP/FREPA). It has motivated them to further engage with using pluralistic approaches in their teaching or teacher training. Several participants are considering setting up international partnerships to support them in this endeavour.
Possible obstacles to the implementation of pluralistic approaches were also addressed. In particular these relate to the need to attract school language teachers to use such approaches and to convince learners that the development of their skills in a foreign language requires developing a global plurilingual competence which involves their whole language repertoire.
The moderation team: Michel Candelier et Anna Maria Curci