The project creates a partnership that works to improve the understanding and effectiveness of language learning in the early stages of formal education. The working language of the project is English. The project uses ICT as a tool for cohesion and shared understanding, underpinning language learning through the development of a shared picture dictionary, designed and created by pupils in the infant department of each primary school. This is achieved through regular class to class Skype sessions that involve pupils and teachers. Teaching staff and support workers take part in exchanges and training workshops in each country.
"CILT" is developed (Community Integration Language Toolkit) through extending innovation & sharing expertise. This is mainstreamed at the end of the project. Shared teacher training workshops in each country are designed and delivered by expert early years language specialists with a wider interest that incorporates extending the curriculum to take account of culture as well as foundation learning. The CILT Toolkit created across the partnership is tested at a Final Event held in the UK near the end of the project. Each partner hosts one event and incorporates a half day event that is open to a wider audience that includes people from the local community, the media, representatives from support agencies and colleges/univesities and policy makers.
To inspire early years language learning in children, the project works class to class through Skype with 24-30 children in each school, using initially Makaton sign language to communicate with each other, then progressing to learning and illustrating simple, everyday words in each language, building into a picture dictionary, illustrated by the children themselves. At the end of the project this dictionary is marketed to parents and the wider community.
There is a final Seminar in the UK to disseminate project results and to debate the future of language learning in a wider, united world, led by a cohesive Europe, promoting mobility of opportunity, equal opportunities and social justice for all.
In a widening Europe it is essential that schools offer the most effective social and educational integration for newly arrived pupils. Without cohesive school communities & sound, long-term social integration a fulfilling academic career cannot progress. Most importantly, without embracing cultural differences, respecting and understanding ethnic richness, equal opportunities cannot result.
Also, in order to improve understanding in the wider community and to reduce the pressures that can often result from a sudden increase in ethnic groups, there needs to be wider awareness of different languages & cultural understanding. This needs to begin in pre-school & be endorsed throughout every child's school career.
The project also creates flexible tools to assist children from each local area who join the school without having an average linguistic or communication ability. Specialist methodologies are developed that take account of individual learning needs as well as cultural integration issues.
Primary schools are ideally placed to lead the way. Children are Ambassadors - this is the theme of this project. Learning through children & letting children discover and enjoy, different languages & different cultures, easing the way to wider understanding whilst enriching the school curriculum. Using ICT links to partner schools the children will provide peer language interpretation whilst absorbing awareness of the cultural differences that create a cosmopolitan & diverse community. Empowering individual children as interpreters.
The partners come together to improve linguistic skills in pupils & to raise awareness of cultural & social integration issues. Mobility & learning opportunities are for teachers, support staff & wider community supporters, sharing educational good practice, recognising innovation and developing a Model for community integration.