Local organiser: Lília Vicente, Directorate-General for School Administration
ECML experts: Katja Schnitzer, Germany; Mercè Bernaus, Spain
Participants: 28; language teachers, school directors, representatives of local authorities, expert from the Ministry of Education
“Teachers and school leaders from 12 different schools from all over Portugal attended the Council of Europe workshop Supporting Multilingual Classrooms (SMC) on 21 and 22 February 2019. The Lisbon workshop, part of a series being held in a number of member states, has been hosted by the Ministry of Education (DGAE).
During the last years the number of multilingual classes in Portugal has increased continuously. Some of the teachers attending the workshop come from schools where up to 50% of the student population speak at least one language other than Portuguese at home.
At the workshop, participants explored tools that support both second language development and the promotion of a better understanding of learners' specific needs. Creating an inclusive school environment in which all languages, including all home languages, are valued was an important theme. Participants discussed how multilingualism in their schools can become an asset, and how a whole school approach to supporting it can be developed.
This intercultural approach examines how learners' home languages and cultures can be taken account of when planning classes, how links can be established between home languages and the language of schooling, and how the knowledge and experience that learners, parents and community groups bring to Portuguese education and society can be harnessed.
At the end of the workshop the 12 participating schools decided, supported by the representatives of the Ministry of Education (DGAE), to build a network for mutual support. All tools and materials from the workshop will be used in the participating schools. In this way the workshop results can contribute to the teaching and learning of languages in Portuguese schools.
This two-day workshop was funded by the EU Commission and the ECML (European Centre for Modern Languages). The workshop provided support to teachers on how to value students’ home languages as well as on how to draw on these languages as a rich resource for learning, by involving them in a wide range of interactive and experiential activities.”
Katja Schnitzer and Mercè Bernaus, Supporting Multilingual Classrooms experts
22 February 2019