Presentations 2018

A National Framework for Languages for teacher education

Workshop by Ingeborg Birnie, University of Strathclyde

This workshop aims to present and gather feedback on the work conducted by the Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE) Languages Group, representing the Schools of Education across Scottish Universities for all language learning, including (but not limited to) modern languages, EAL, heritage languages, Gaelic, Gàidhlig, BSL and other signed languages, to support the Scottish Government 1 + 2 Language Policy by promoting the crucial role and contribution of teacher education in creating the conditions in which every child in Scotland will learn two languages in addition to their mother tongue. This initiative, funded by seven Local Authorities, has focussed on the creation of a National Framework for Languages (NFfL) and an associated digital resource for teachers and educators.

The NFfL aims to make explicit the contribution of language(s) in learning and education to early career teachers’ understanding, practice and professionalism but also supports teachers across all stages of professional career development to further guide and inform their practice. The NFfL is based on four principles: plurilingualism, diversity, policy and legislation and transformative practice. Each principle uses a series of statements to outline the fundamental practices and align with the GTC(S) Standards for Registration whilst encouraging a much broader and more inclusive understanding of the role of languages in learning.

The strands of the NFfL are linked to the digital resources to support educators in deepening their knowledge and understanding and inform professionals about the key issues concerning the learning and teaching of languages; a reflective tool and a comprehensive digital tool. The reflective tool includes a personal biography and reflective questions. These reflective questions are directly linked to the NFfL to assist teachers in analysing their own practices to support the implementation of the NFfL. The digital tool, called LENS, was created after a systematic review of the international literature pertaining not only to formal language learning across all ages and stages of the education system, but also the need to address the increasingly complex demands of plurilingual and pluricultural classrooms and to develop a shared understanding of the role of languages for learning which goes beyond the learning of ‘foreign languages’ and addresses the fundamental role played by languages including first language in developing global citizens.
The NFfL has now entered its piloting phase and the National Framework itself as well the digital resources can now be accessed via the website:

Ingeborg Birnie’s presentation

Engaging and Networking Language Learners at School with Universities, Businesses and the Wider Community- cross-sector initiatives to support the 1+ 2 agenda in Scotland

Workshop by Angela de Britos, University of Strathclyde/SCILT and Marion Spöring, University of Dundee/UCMLS

SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages and the HE sector through the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland have been collaborating to promote a number of initiatives across Scotland for several years.

In this workshop we will give an overview of those initiatives and we will ask for your feedback . What are your ideas and suggestions how we could co-operate further? What is effective, in your view , and are there other initiatives which would be helpful to you?
Initiatives discussed are : Word Wizard, Language Linking, Global Thinking, Business Brunches, Mother Tongue-Other Tongue, Languages Lost and Found

The Common European Framework of Reference for languages and its applications

Workshop by Thomas Chaurin, French Institute

The CEFR is the framework of reference for language teaching, learning and assessment. Published in 2001, it gives a transparent, coherent and comprehensive basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses and curriculum guidelines, the design of teaching and learning materials, and the assessment of language proficiency. In this workshop, I will present the CEFR and the recently published Companion Volume with new descriptors. I will also present various direct applications of the CEFR, the European Language Portfolio, the International Language Certifications, and the Reference Level Descriptors.

Thomas Chaurin is Attaché de coopération pour le français of the French Embassy in the UK, with a mission to support French teaching and learning in Scotland. He holds a Master of French as Foreign Language of the Université de Rennes 2. He has served the French cultural diplomacy in various countries including Chile, Canada and the USA.

Flow Theory and language-learner motivation: The benefits of cross-stage student research

Presentation by Jean Conacher, University of Limerick

Language learners at all stages can be affected by fluctuating motivation. This can reduce students’ ability to focus effectively on their studies and potentially cause a cycle of frustration and disengagement detrimental to the learning process. This paper proposes that one approach to breaking such a cycle is the pursuit of cross-stage student research and explores to what extent such research may bring direct and indirect benefits to all concerned. At the centre of this discussion is a final-year dissertation on the impact of Flow Theory (Csíkszentmihalyi, 1975, 1990) on language-learner motivation, conducted with the participation of first- and second-year students. Examples of other potential cross-stage research projects will also be provided.

Engaging University Language Learners: Diaries as a Pedagogical Tool for Exploring Metalinguistic Awareness

Presentation by Argyro Kanaki and Susana Carvajal, University of Dundee

The pedagogical approach of using diaries for exploring metalinguistic awareness seems to be suitable for enhancing academic skills and consolidating teaching and learning. Our research aimed to explore the metalinguistic awareness of students who were learning Spanish at Dundee University in evening classes, and was used as a pilot study for an on-going research project. Metalinguistic awareness is a first requirement for understanding how students are experiencing the procedure of language learning and language analysis. We introduced learning journals to classroom practice as a task for the end of each language input, and then carried out a focus group interview at the end of the term’s teaching. By using a diary, students consciously expressed their reflections on how they learned a language, on what was their learning technique as well as whether they had preferences for specific types of activities or cultural topics. The findings revealed that writing about their own learning experiences helped students to enhance their academic skills, be more aware of their learning attitudes to Language in a University setting, be more open to others and, essentially, to assist the enhancement of the teaching and learning experience and the improvement of both teaching materials and teaching methods.

Creative engagement: Der Fund by Veza Canetti – a German text transformation project

Workshop by Elisabeth Koenigshofer, University of Reading

This workshop aims to promote the creation of holistic language learning experiences for and with students. Text transformation offers a chance for students to engage with the respective target language in creative ways and creates intercultural learning experiences. Starting from my creative language learning project “Der Fund by Veza Canetti” as an example, this workshop offers the opportunity to develop ideas and discuss potential learning activities. Text samples in various languages and for different learner levels will be provided to create a hands-on experience for participating colleagues.

During this workshop we will look at all stages of a creative learning project – planning, launching and promoting – and will explore learning benefits for students, as well as potential obstacles for both teachers and students.
We will address the following topic areas: creative skills, translation skills, text analysis skills, independent learning, peer feedback, intercultural learning, organisation skills.
The creative text transformation project “Der Fund by Veza Canetti” allowed students at the University of Reading to work creatively and put their language and study skills into practice. Students from years 1, 2 and final year read the short story Der Fund by Austrian author Veza Canetti and transformed it in creative ways. They created pieces of visual art, music and a translation into English. Their work was presented as an enhanced reading, including live music, a discussion of their translation and insight into visual transformation. The project is permanently exhibited at a student study space at the university.

The project allowed students to combine their academic skills with their personal skills, traditionally seen as less relevant for their degree programmes. By engaging with an original text, their acquired skills – respectively their German language skills, translation and organisational skills – were moved into a real-life experience which promoted independent learning and showed students new benefits of studying a language degree.

Elisabeth Koenigshofer’s presentation

Inspiring Active Learner Engagement in Languages Through Collaborative Projects

Workshop by Bethan Owen, City of Edinburgh Council

Schools across Scotland are at a crucial stage in the roll-out of the Scottish Government’s ambitious 1+2 Modern Languages Policy. At the same time, schools are striving to meet priorities within the National Improvement Framework, in a landscape which is constantly developing and evolving and can create conflicting priorities.
This initiative aims to bring together colleagues across clusters to plan, implement, showcase and evaluate joint projects which highlight the positive role languages learning can play in promoting the National Priorities – literacy and numeracy skills, Health &Well Being, Parental Engagement, Pupil Voice and Developing the Young Workforce. Clusters are encouraged to design creative approaches which may include working with partner agencies – FE/HE Institutions, community organisations or national bodies – in order to reach a wide range of stakeholders and heighten awareness of the positive role language learning can have on the future destinations of all our learners.
The scope of this project reaches across learning and teaching communities in City of Edinburgh’s 23 school clusters, each comprising one secondary school and associated primaries. Special schools are included within the estate.

On a Journey with Twitter: a Practitioner’s Tale into Microblogging for Language Learning, Oral Production and Students’ Engagement

Talk by Alessia Plutino, University of Southampton

This paper will describe the pedagogical journey (successes and pitfalls), undertaken by the author when adopting Twitter for language learning and teaching.

After providing a brief overview of the pedagogical project TwitTIAMO, which involves micro blogging (Twitter) for Italian language learning, this paper will discuss the potentials of Twitter within the Web 3.0 teaching and learning perspectives, practices and curriculum and the various ways in which the author applied them to her own teaching.

The TwitTIAMO project, has been investigating students’ engagement, cultural awareness and communicative language skills development using Twitter for quite few years. The author was awarded a Faculty Innovative Teaching in Education Award in 2014.

The paper will include examples of activities adopted when teaching with Twitter as well as describing the pedagogical path and various experimentations adopted by the author to develop students’ oral skills, pronunciation and writing skills as well as focusing on grammatical accuracy and metacognitive skills.

More broadly, the paper will offer an overview of social media as a powerful tool to transpose classroom communities into online learning communities and enhance spontaneous and collaborative learning outside conventional classroom settings, based on Vygotsky’s ZPD principles and current Personal Learning Environments theories.
Although this project is focused on students of Italian, the paper would appeal to any language teacher, as its principles can be easily applied to other foreign European languages and it is hoped that colleagues from different sectors would find some inspiration from this.

Boosting Vocational Orientation in Foreign Language Teaching and Learning Through Extracurricular Activities

Talk by Matthias Prikoszovits, University of Vienna

Since the turn of the millennium, economic events as well as developments and decisions in the area of higher education policy have led to new approaches to university curricula development. The current trend in university curricula for foreign language teaching is a shift from traditionally literature-oriented and linguistics-oriented teaching objectives and contents to an increased focus on vocational orientation and practical application.

This talk explores the way in which extracurricular activities can also contribute to vocational orientation in foreign language learning. On the basis of some examples the talk demonstrates which elements of extracurricular activities entail specific aspects of vocational orientation. The main focus lies on German as a Foreign Language (DaF).

Matthias Prikoszovits’ presentation

Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Heritage and language in education

Workshop by Ann Robertson, 1+2 Languages Development Officer, East Lothian Council

Transnationalizing Modern Languages (TML) is a large-scale research project involving multiple partners including Cardiff University, the University of Namibia (UNAM) and the University of St Andrews (Scotland).  Over a two-year period, the project has explored the development of languages and multilingualism in Scotland, Wales and in Namibia.  Through workshops and research in Namibia and Scotland, we have identified key questions around how we nurture multilingualism within education, accredit key skills, support learners to raise attainment in English and literacy and develop skills in additional languages such as French, German and in the case of Namibia, Afrikaans.  The research has explored heritage languages in 1+2 development and considers how we can integrate wider learner language skills and education into language policy and practice.  This presentation will share research findings including survey responses from teachers and learners in Scotland and Namibia and interviews with young learners.  We will explore key questions arising from this research around how we best meet the needs of our multilingual leaners and promote engagement and attainment in these vital and aspirational skills. We will consider the place of heritage languages in local planning and through discussion and look for creative solutions in developing new approaches to supporting multilingual learners.  Lastly, we will look at the key role that we, as language learners and teachers, can play in supporting and encouraging multilingualism in our schools.

Ann Robertson’s presentation

Using video for innovative language assessment and feedback

Workshop by Dr Carlos Soler Montes, University of Edinburgh

Online language development at University level has been facing exciting new opportunities but also digital and pedagogical challenges in the context of a new era for the development of innovative digital approaches to language teaching and learning. In this session we will be sharing ideas for innovative assessment and feedback methods that have been piloted recently using video and desktop recording systems in Department of European Literatures, Languages and Cultures at the University of Edinburgh.

We aim to present a number of digital solutions that can be provided by standard Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) to analyse the way we are adapting them to the particular needs of our language programmes, while encountering challenges in the devising of new digital forms of assessment. Some of these examples show that there is more room for creativity and innovation in assessment and feedback processes than we might think, evidencing how technology-enhanced teaching and learning perspective can be useful to widen our assessment portfolio in many ways.

More in particular, we will explore how to use video assignments and video feedback explaining the process and the results of implementing these online tools into specific courses, with a view to starting a discussion with colleagues on the broader aspects of collaborative teaching and learning in the digital era, and the implantation of innovative yet trustworthy and suitable assessment tools for our programmes.

Dr Carlos Soler Montes’ presentation

Language Learning in the Classroom: The View from Research

Talk by Antonella Sorace, University of Edinburgh and Bilingualism Matters

There are many widespread misconceptions about learning a second language in childhood: for example, many people still think that early language learning makes children confused and puts them at a disadvantage at school, or that it is simply unnecessary. Research, in contrast, shows that learning another language may give children enhanced metalinguistic and literacy skills, a good understanding of other people’s points of view, and more mental flexibility in dealing with complex situations: in short, language learning benefits the whole curriculum. I will first illustrate the main facts and challenges of child bilingualism at different ages, and the implications for classroom learning and teaching. I will then briefly present the results of some recent research projects on language learning in Scottish primary schools. I will finally show how our Bilingualism Matters Centre is enabling families, teachers, and policy makers – in Scotland and internationally – to make decisions on early language learning informed by research.

Antonella Sorace’s presentation

Teaching Activities to Engage Language Learners with Limited Literacy

Workshop by Ruth Teillard, Elrick Primary School, Aberdeenshire

Engaging learners who struggle to access the equivalent lexis and grammar in their first – or other – language can be a major challenge for foreign language teachers. One solution is to introduce and practice the target language without using written forms and this workshop will demonstrate a series of such activities using a variety of resources and approaches – flashcards, Cuisinaire rods and ICT. First, participants will have the opportunity to experience and practise the various activities, then they will choose an activity to individualise for their particular teaching situation. The workshop is therefore practical and participants will leave with a bank of ideas that they can apply directly to their language teaching. These activities are not meant to avoid literacy issues; rather they are a first step to effectively engaging learners in the target language by building their confidence and thus lowering their affective barriers, which is key to successful language acquisition (Krashen, 1987). Limited literacy is, arguably, most apparent in lower school stages, so this workshop is of considerable relevance to teachers of primary, particularly language leads who may find the activities useful to pass on to colleagues who are unsure of how to engage learners with limited literacy (a recurring concern amongst primary teachers, anecdotal evidence would suggest). However, the workshop also offers an opportunity to specialist language teachers to refresh and adapt their existing teaching methods which can enhance teaching practice.