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EPALE - Aikuiskoulutuksen eurooppalainen foorumi


EPALE Discussion on European Day of Languages 2016

, EPALE Moderator


In honour of European Day of Languages, we’ll be hosting a day-long discussion which will be moderated by language teacher and polyglot Alex Rawlings and EPALE’s thematic coordinator for Quality, Andrew McCoshan. Don’t miss your chance to share your experience in teaching languages to adults, any tips or challenges you’ve faced, learn about best practices from your peers across Europe, and discuss various topics with the EPALE community! We have also gathered interesting case studies, thought-provoking blog posts and helpful resources on the topic of languages and adult education – click here to check them out.

The discussion will start on 26 September at 10:30 CET and it will be divided in two parts:

  • Morning session (10:30am– 1:00pm CET) – How do we make language learning the best it can be?

  • Afternoon session (1:00pm–4:00pm CET) – How do we best meet the needs of different groups for language learning?

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Näytetään 21 - 30 114:sta
Käyttäjän Susan Kaufmann kuva

Extreme heterogeneity is a fact in today’s German as a 2nd language courses. Learners differ in age, country of origin, education, goals, qualification and many other aspects. If we only look at the language-aspect you may have speakers of 20 different first languages in a class of 20 people. Leaners differ furthermore

  • in terms of the number of languages they have learned,
  • the way they have learned them (as a result of growing up in a multilingual environment or learning them in a formal context),
  • the writing systems they are familiar with,
  • the experience of acceptance or suppression of languages important to them (for ex. Kurdish language)

All this influences how the target language German is learned.

All these aspects need to be considered in teacher-training much more than has been the case so far.


For teachers very generally this means that different migrant and language backgrounds should be seen as resources to be acknowledged as such and invited into the classroom as much as possible. Students should be encouraged to draw from the full repertoire of their linguistic toolkit. That means that we encourage

  • translation as means to facilitate comprehension
  • codeswitching
  • language comparisons
  • explanations in common language to other students
Käyttäjän Regina EBNER kuva

Hi Susan,

could you clarify? You're talking baout translation as a means of facilitating understanding. How can you translate with 20 different languages? In my experience, you tend not to have a common second / third language. Thanks!

Käyttäjän Susan Kaufmann kuva

Hello Gina,

you are right. But there may be someone in class who can translate and clarify. That is in my experience very often the case and all I have to do is to allow other languages than the target language to be spoken in class.

There's a wonderful ressource that I recommend, the book "Using the mother tongue" by Sheelagh Deller and Mario Rinvolucri.

Käyttäjän Matilde Grünhage-Monetti kuva

For adulkt migrant, and I am talking from own eperience" it is important to be able to integrate, build in the new language into the first language. To expereince recognition for and proficinecy in first language.

Prof. Ofelia Garcia warns:

"Migrants usually learn language of “the other”.  Migrant learners must gain new features to integrate into OWN language repertoire for everyday use.  Migrant adult learners have former experiences with word and world. Migrant adult learners need to appropriate features into OWN language repertoire and not just to “acquire” that of “others”." It is an issue of respect and social justice!

Käyttäjän Rumen HALACHEV kuva

EPALE Netherlands have posted a very interesting interview with volunteer language teacher Dick Noordhuizen. Noordhuizen completed the language volunteer training offered by Taal doet meer in Utrecht. It's interesting to see that despite all the training, once you start practicing teaching language to refugees, reality is quite different.

Most of these people are passing through. [...] So much for your structure. You have to take a different approach. Teach very practical things. Who are you? Where are you? Not say that something is a door, but go over to it, open it, and explain how you say it as you do it. Oh, that was a classic mistake that we inadvertently made.

Käyttäjän Colin Gilligan kuva

Great to see the EuroCatering project profiled today. Professionals are busy people. The hospitality sector is highly mobile. Access to formal learning can be limited. Interactive on-line resources such as EuroCatering are perfectly suited to fill this gap.

On-line resources should be user friendly and simple in their application. The layout of this website mirrors the flow of work, real life situational dialogues stimulate and engage the learner.

Our students, Sinead and Tara,  are feeding back right now:  'Learning with EuroCatering is easier because of the visual and aural supports. It's relevant to what we're studying and it keeps us more focused. The colours and graphics make it more attractive. We can log on and off when we like. We can choose specific topics within the kitchen, restaurant or front office.'

Käyttäjän Matilde Grünhage-Monetti kuva

My answer is: CERTAINLY or Who is afraid of multilingualism?

We live in a multilingual world. Bilingual or multilingual is to be able to use all the language resources you have to master your life.

Sociopolitical transformations of the 21st century like displacements & deterritorialization ( e. g. migrations & displacements, spaces interconnected,  transnational circulation (capital, commodities, labor and people) and technology are turning our interactions multilingual.

I have just received this mail: 

"Helfen Sie uns mit einer Spende, um diesen Deal zu verhindern!

Vielen Dank  für Ihre Unterstützung!

Eoin und das Team von SumOfUs"

Apart from the name, out of 22 words in German, 3 are English!

Our workplaces are de facto multilingual; multilingualism is used in the realization of work tasks, as well as in the production and marketing of products or services.

Here two examples from my work practice:

Example 1:

MM is a young German employee in an online shop for fashion jewelry supplies. With colleagues and clients she interacts in German. With suppliers from China she corresponds in English. She writes the quarterly newsletter for the company’s  clients in German, the software is in English.

 Two or more languages are co-present in everyday life of migrants.

Example 2: Mr C. is a Turkish car mechanics. He has learnt his job in Turkey and now works in Germany in a car repairing company. I met him during a piece of research on the language requirements in the apprenticeship for mechatronics. In an interview, his employer praised the way Mr C.  goes about learning new technical terms and expressions. Every time he comes across something new, he insists on being told how to pronounce and spell the new words exactly and notes them down in a little book. At home he searches in the internet and the next day he reports his boss the Turkish translation.   When the team is dealing with a difficult piece of work he searches in the internet as well and the next days he comes along with some suggestions he has found in the Turkish specialists’ platforms. This has helped the team towards some new solutions!?!


Käyttäjän Alex Rawlings kuva

Thank you for making this very valid point! Learning the "host" language should not and does not have to be at the expense of speaking home languages. It should be possible for both native languages and new languages to be equally fostered and improved over the course of someone's life.