Modern societies are both multicultural and multilingual. The young Europeans that we are teaching in schools today find themselves at cultural and linguistic crossroads (the official language, the language spoken at home, the language of the school etc), with paths formed from the beliefs and opinions that they are exposed to. Their identities are constructed and transformed in the constant dynamic of the cultural and linguistic hybrid that is 21st Century societies. An understanding of this makes it necessary to accompany these young Europeans, in particular during modern foreign language lessons, on a journey of openness towards the world.
France has met the European Council’s challenge to the member states to promote early stage foreign language learning, and to offer a growing choice of additional languages. France has its own model for promoting multilingualism, bilingual classes or ‘classes bilangues’, where children and young people learn two modern languages simultaneously. Originally based upon a model ‘German accompanied by English’, the success of these classes has opened up the possibility of the teaching of other language combinations.
English is indisputably the Lingua Franca today, but given the strong cultural and economic links between Germany and France, German gives French young people an advantage when it comes to their CV. Approximately 820,000 French schoolchildren learn German in secondary school, of which most are in bilingual classes. There is a greater success rate in language learning when a learner is able to make connections between two related languages, as they acquire transferable skills for foreign language learning in general. Already the Symposium, “Le défi des classes bilangues” (The challenge of bilingual classes) in Paris in 2008 set out to illustrate the advantages of this model of teaching, and to create a solid practical and theoretical basis for a multilingual teaching methodology.
The more the learner manages to make connections between the two related languages and to acquire re-usable strategies for learning foreign languages, the greater the success. Already the Symposium, “Le défi des classes bilangues” (The challenge of bilingual classes) in Paris in 2008 set out to illustrate the advantages of this model of teaching, and to create a solid practical and theoretical basis for a multilingual teaching methodology.
This website is the practical outcome of the Symposium and aims to make English and German teaching material available to teachers, helping them to deconstruct the barriers between different subjects and replacing them with a multilingual and intercultural style of pedagogy, encouraging them to create projects together during language lessons.
Modules “Arts and foreign languages”
The teaching of both languages should not run in parallel, but be linked, in order to generate synergy in both language and cross-cultural learning. Through the exercises proposed on the website, we hope to offer concrete ideas which have already been tried and tested in bilingual classes, to help teachers coordinate lessons, encourage students to reflect on their multilingual identity, and empower students with the tools for continued language learning.
The modules, which take up approximately 6 hours of lesson time for each language, are suited to the French timetable and are in line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). By choosing to offer theatre modules and a common teaching of foreign languages, teachers are encouraged to use the richness of the cultural and artistic heritage of these languages; to call on their own creativity, as well as that of their students; to make use of their imaginations and their experience, to take into consideration the development of the emotional skills of their students. Through this type of project teachers will awaken their students&rsquo interest in languages, as well as giving them ownership of their learning.
Under the tab “Your Bilingual Projects” you are invited to present your ideas for activities that have been successfully tested in the classroom. With your help we hope to create a map of the projects that have been created, including links to the relevant websites of the schools or local authorities. The aim is to create a continually evolving library of resources that other teaching teams can access, as well as a forum where teachers can discuss their projects.