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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 11 - 20 114:sta
Käyttäjän Jolanta WOLAGIEWICZ kuva

For many years I was teaching English to seniors, mostly women over 60 within The Third Age University and Academy plus 50 in Białystok, Poland.

The reasons my students attended classes were different – some wanted just to train their brains instead of solving crosswords, some to make the dream from the past come true, some – because their friends were in the group, but the most of them wanted to learn at least some of the language their grandchildren use in many countries they live.

It was very pleasant experience although not easy for me or for them.

Elder people are used to old methods they remember from their school times – reading, writing new words with translation, solving some always the same exercises, learning grammar rules, etc. It  was always very difficult to convince them, that there is no use in learning grammar rules from heart. They wanted to have them written in their notebooks. They couldn’t believe they can understand or finally speak without them.

The turning-point always appeared when we started playing children games, card games or any other activities based on a pattern to follow – my student usually forgot about rules being involved in nice activity and discovered themselves their progress in understanding and using English in simple communication.

Käyttäjän Jonny Lear kuva

Hi Jolanta, 

A similar experience can be found in Mary Cunningham guest blog post on EPALE: 'You are never too old to learn a new language' 

U3A tutors make an extra effort by incorporating watching films, playing board games and learning songs in the chosen language. This element of fun breaks down barriers and encourages communication amongst members, an enjoyable experience for all.


Käyttäjän Rumen HALACHEV kuva

David Mallows wrote a piece on The social aspect in migrant language education. In it Mallows makes several very good points:

Successful learning of a new language is not just reliant on the cognitive skills of each individual adult. Instead it is closely related to 1) their purpose and motivation for learning and using the language; 2) to the context in which they are learning; and 3) to what they would consider to be successful language learning.

To meet the needs of the rising numbers of adults, who need to learn the language of their new host community, we will have to massively increase the availability of formal and non-formal language learning opportunities within classrooms. Technology certainly has a key role to play here, with communities of language learners sharing their learning and gaining support from each other through online environments. However, we also need to recognise and support informal learning opportunities and use these to enhance, and link to formal and non-formal language learning.



Käyttäjän Anne Brindley kuva

GMIT Galway students' comments on learning online:

'You can access from anywhere, any time.  It's an independent, personal learning experience. We all learn differently, at a dfferent pace.  Online learning allows us to do this, especially when we are working.'

'Relevance is important. It stays with you because you want it and need it.'

If it's a taught programme, Continuous Assessment is a fairer way of assessing. We learn continuously all our lives  Why should we just be examined once a year?'

Käyttäjän Matilde Grünhage-Monetti kuva

I was impressed by Translanguaging as a way of looking at  bi-/multilingualism, not in an additive way: L1+L2+L3. etc., but in an integrated, systemic way: as the ability to fully use one's own linguisitc repertoire, keeping in mind that Bilinguals are not two monolinguals in one person. (Grosjean 1982)

I reccommend Garcia and Wei 2014 on this issue.

They report on how to develop this ability with pupils, unfortunaltely not with adult learners.


Käyttäjän Mary-Clare O'CONNOR kuva

Hi Colin, I think you're absolutely right - online learning has to be accessible and it also has to be relevant. The European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe have a project that aims meet both of these requirements. They have made a Moodle course that can be adapted to whatever institution you're in: