Subproject 03: Training the trainers and teachers to implement the program of learning English Policies of introducing foreign languages early in school Professor Bessie Dendrinos Experiences from Greece and other parts of Europe
Early Foreign Language Learning policy • New research findings showing that Early Foreign Language Learning (EFLL) may have positive effects on: • Language awareness • Intercultural awareness • Tolerance to linguistic and cultural diversity • Scholastic achievement • Europe’s aims for the development of multilingualism for • social cohesion • mobility within the EU for work and study • economic benefits Introducing foreign languages in primary schools has been described by Johnstone (2009) as “possibly the world’s biggest policy development in education”
EFLL in Greece • A recent top-down decision responding to the demands of the general public to provide in public schools: • foreign language education leading to the development of communicative competence: in English (82% of respondents), but also in other languages (German 67%, French 32%, Italian 41%, Spanish 44%) • skills that would allow students to get a valid certificate for their language proficiency before they graduate • not to have to pay for these services (not offered outside the public school system) • Making the FL course a core component of the school curriculum and offering quality FL education is a long-standing demand of Greek FL teachers, who have also been urging for years that school FL education be linked with the national foreign language exams and KPG the state certificate
Why is English chosen as the 1st foreign language in most countries in the world? • Choosing English is: • a naturalized, “obvious” option • a result of pressure from stakeholders (i.e., parents): • responding to global pressures for a world-wide English-speaking workforce • assuming that it will facilitate upward social mobility opportunities for their children • aiming to secure for LL opportunities for work and study in different countries In the widespread tendency to introduce foreign languages in primary school, English is the first choice in 85% of the cases in Europe.
Challenges of introducing an EFLL policy • Minimum input vs. language immersion • Top-down policies • Ad hoc policy decisions • Political vs. pedagogic goals • Lack of teacher preparation for EYL • Gap between policy & implementation (policy vs. practice) • Lack of adequate research on: • How young (language) learners learn • How teachers teach to young language learners • Response of stakeholders • Literacy practices of ELL pupils • Ramifications of starting to learn English at an early age
Cross country differences in policy aims • Regarding the purpose of the ELL programme (in some countries the purpose is to teach ‘language itself’, in others to develop communicative competence and still in others to introduce children to foreign language and culture as part of international understanding • Regarding how policy is implemented and how much control over policy implementation there is by educational authorities • Regarding policy implementation assessment
EFLL policy in Greece 1 • Top-down political decisions on consultation with experts • Curricular policy developed as top-down and bottom up • Diverse groups involved in policy making had different goals (political and pedagogic goals were negotiated) • Specialist teacher preparation for EYL was minimal • Continuity of teachers involved in the programme could not be secured • Could not secure that ‘trained’ EYL teachers would teach the same programme from one school year to the next
EFLL policy in Greece 2 • Consistency between policy & implementation but gap between policy and practice by about 25>35% of the teacher population (the first year of implementation) • Research data made available to policy makers • Total control over policy implementation by educational authorities but no evaluation and accountability • Programme internal and external assessment
More differences in EFLL programmes • Who teaches ELL • What the ELL teachers’ experiences are • What teacher training/ development programmes are available • school infrastructure • hours of ‘teaching’ (how many hours a week, how hours are distributed and how time is used) • Learner / parent expectations across countries, regions (rural and urban areas)
English for Young Learners (EYL) in Greece • Specialist teachers teach the foreign language • Foreign language teachers in Greece in the EYL programme • have had mainstream training during Initial Teacher Education at University (focusing up until recently on secondary school students) • about 15% have been through MA programmes for ELT • about 50% have had experience with primary school students • Teachers are being told and shown what to do and teacher education online courses are being developed • School infrastructure is poor in some schools but it is improving • For the time being, English is offered twice a week for 40-45 minutes each session
Greek learner, teacher and parent expectations • Young Greek learners start out by expecting to do in the English class what they do in their other classes. Some are disappointed that they don’t and others like it. • Teachers start out by expecting to teach to a book, and inexperienced or older teachers find it difficult not to deal with reading and writing from the start • Some parents believe that their children won’t learn English in school, some expect the class in school to be the same as in private language schools (preparing students for proficiency testing), some want to collaborate with the English teacher (for better or worse)
Challenges EFLL programmes present • curricular materials and their availability • bottom up materials development and materials variability • training for the use of materials/books • multimedia packages for teaching and teacher training • control and differentiation • attitudes toward the specialist teacher (language level of non-specialist teacher) • attitudes toward the language • stakeholders’ position to the programme
Challenges in the Greek EYL programme 1 • Curricular materials were developed through a bottom up approach • A curriculum framework was created and is now being completed with can-do statements which are being developed on the basis of classroom practice • The syllabuses are a-posteriori created • Materials for the 3 first years in school (created by experienced, competent EFL teacher practitioners, with high proficiency in English) were evaluated by experts, evaluated as they were tried out, reformulated on the basis of classroom experience.
Theoretical basis of the curriculum • The Greek EYL curriculum draws on literacy theories and aims to develop the literacies pupils in the first primary grades need to develop • Which literacies? Those that they need in any given social context (including the school). • Actually, in today’s world, they need to develop MULTI-literacies.
What does the term multi-literacies refer to? • It refers to two major aspects of language use. The first has to do with • the different ways people create meanings in different social and cultural contexts, contexts which increasingly demand multilingual, multicultural and multimodal communication • The effect of these demands on school education is • that literacy teaching should turn attention away from teaching the rules of standard forms of any single language, to helping learners be able to create appropriate meanings in diverse contexts –contexts which involve people from different cultures, life experiences, social background, education, etc.
What else does the term multi-literacies refer to? • The second aspect of language use the term multi-literacies refers to relates to the multimodality of texts; That is, texts whose meanings are shaped not only with language (oral or written) but also with visual, audio, gestural, tactile and spatial patterns of meaning. • The effect of this aspect is that language learning (or else literacy) pedagogy does not focus its attention on the linguistic and especially the written text alone. It brings into the classroom multimodal representations, and particularly those typical of the new, digital media.
The overall aim of the Greek EYL curriculum • It is geared towards developing young learners’ self-respect and respect for the Other • It points to pedagogical practices which are meant to cultivate in pupils appreciation towards their mother tongue, towards other languages and especially the target language • The overall aim of the curriculum is to help young pupils develop their social literacies and the gradual development as meaning makers through using English as the medium of communication • It seeks to have learners involved in experiential learning activities that capitalize on their creativity and revolve around language games or familiar, fun communication events.
The overall pedagogic aim 1 • One of the basic pedagogic aims of the curriculum is to help learners limit the self-centredness that is typical of their age and to make them feel that they belong, they are members not only of their family and social milieu, their town and country but also ofa world where people communicate and act differently but at the same time have a lot in common.
The overall pedagogic aim 2 • One of the basic pedagogic aims of the curriculum is to help learners limit the self-centredness that is typical of their age and to make them feel that they belong, they are members not only of their family and social milieu, their town and country but also of a world where people communicate and act differently but at the same time have a lot in common
Pedagogic aims • Self- and social growth • Development of social skills • Development of co-operation skills • Development of respect for one-self • Development of respect for individuals or groups that are linguistically and/or culturally different • Development of intercultural awareness • Cognitive growth • Development of analytic and synthetic skills • Development of learning strategies • Development of visual perception • Development of auditory perception • Development of inductive and deductive skills
Social and communication aims • Tolerance to social and cultural differences • Learning to understand and accept differences • Learning to appreciate the role of one’s own and others’ mother tongue and culture • Learning to appreciate the role of English as an international language but also the role of other languages • Learning how to make parallel use of two or more languages effectively
Approach to teaching and learning • Use of an eclectic approach (a combination of a number of approaches, of language learning methodologies and of various techniques) that can attract learners’ interest and attention • Selecting activities conducive to the broader pedagogical aims • Selecting fun activities and creative tasks that involve learners’ in various ways of approaching and processing the new language • Taking into consideration learner profile, the curriculum promotes a learning by doing approach, whereby language is viewed as social practice, and learning is best achieved through experience and interaction • Promoting interaction in socially appropriate ways, through oral activities – being taught to understand and produce speech in English • Initially, language learning is restricted to making sense of individual words and phrases, always used in social and linguistic contexts, and then it expands to understanding and producing chunks of speech and on to understanding stories, songs, etc.
What to do and how • The EYL ‘can-do’ statements on what young learners are expected to be able to do relate to the ‘what’ and the ‘how’.
Can-do statements • Can recognise visuals (e.g. pictures) and relate them to sounds (words, phonemes) or gestures • Can recognise differences between sounds • Can pronounce ‘simple’ words intelligibly • Can recognise and use basic intonation patterns (e.g. distinguish a question from a statement) • Can understand and use simple formulaic expressions (Hello/Hi, What is your name? Thank you) • Can understand and respond to ‘simple’ instructions • Can ask and answer questions on very familiar topics • Can introduce themselves and interact in a very simple way • Can describe people, things and places (using ‘simple’ words) in terms of shape and size.
Curricular materials 1 • The materials used to put the curriculum into practice are organized in thematic units drawing on pupils’ immediate social environment (home, school, places in Greece and abroad) with a view to learning how to express themselves about the world they know, using a different language. • This material gradually expands in order to include broader cultural horizons. Yet, the rationale behind it remains the same. Young learners are expected to use socially-situated language within specific cultural contexts.
Curricular materials 2 • Curricular materials are designed taking into account the needs of Greek learners of English • Also, they are designed considering the differentiated needs of pupils who have different cognitive development, experiences, skills and knowledge, different likes and dislikes, different work pace, or just different ways of dealing with the new.
Challenges in the Greek EYL programme 2 • Minimal training for the use of materials so far but there is development of online show-and-tell sessions and multimedia packages for teaching and teacher training are being developed • Differentiation is encouraged and it is a reality (that could be described in both positive and negative terms) • The specialist teacher is sometimes viewed as a stranger by the primary class teacher, which is discouraging, but if the teacher tries to fit in it is possible that s/he is well received • The specialist teachers have to move to 2-3 schools to cover the hours they are obliged to teach (up to 24 weekly hours) • Teachers of the Greek EYL programme have to prepare their lessons but have a lot of help
Challenges in the Greek EYL programme 3 • There are a lot of stereotypes about language and language learning, about English and what it means to ‘know’ English by English teachers • Greek stakeholders’ position to the programme • Primary teachers and headmasters were initially negative for practical and pedagogic reasons • EFL teachers were overwhelmingly positive • Parents were initially rather negative
Challenges in the Greek EYL programme 4 • There are a lot of stereotypes about language and language learning, about English and what it means to ‘know’ English by English teachers • Greek stakeholders’ position to the programme • Primary teachers and headmasters were initially negative for practical and pedagogic reasons • EFL teachers were overwhelmingly positive • Parents were initially rather negative
Το έργο υλοποιείται από το ΚΕΝΤΡΟ ΕΡΕΥΝΑΣ ΓΙΑ ΤΗ ΔΙΔΑΣΚΑΛΙΑΞΕΝΩΝ ΓΛΩΣΣΩΝ ΚΑΙΤΗΝ ΑΞΙΟΛΟΓΗΣΗ ΓΛΩΣΣΟΜΑΘΕΙΑΣ