Liljana Kač - Zavod RS za šolstvo
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Liljana Kač - Zavod RS za šolstvo

knowledge were slightly higher. The national Assessment of Knowledge report also revealedlower achievements in the writing test similar to those in the second foreign language test.Schools reported on a generally lower motivational level for learning in students in this schoolyear, particularly after having been informed that the second foreign language grade had noeffect on the secondary-school enrolment criteria. They further reported that students withprevious knowledge of the language, talented students, and those who actively took part inclasses and regularly did their homework achieved better results in the final test, whilestudents with lower grades in other subjects, and those with special needs and those withlearning difficulties were on average less successful in the second foreign language as well.Goal 4: Introduce modern second foreign language teaching methodsTaking into consideration the findings reached through observation of classes, teachers’replies and reports on training and professional meetings, Goal 4 – Introduce modern teachingmethods – has been achieved. During classes observation we noticed that instruction wascarried out well, and that interaction between teachers and students as well as teachers’assessments were good. Slightly lower standards were noticed only in two aspects, namelydifferentiation during classes and foreign language use by students interacting with theirclassmates, which corresponds to the beginner level of language acquisition. Communicationorientedapproach in foreign language instruction, high number of students in class anddiffering knowledge, abilities and interests of students made differentiation during classesdifficult.Regarding execution of classes teachers agreed with the principles of modern foreignlanguage teaching methods (language as a linking element between subjects, didactic games,project work as a learning method, and knowledge assessment as a positive experience).Teachers were aware of the external and internal teaching process factors. They adjustedteaching objectives to students' abilities, interests and needs, taking into consideration thecomplexity of the texts, predictability of the learning context, level of difficulty and type oftasks, while providing clear instructions for work. They assessed students’ knowledge in sucha way as to make it a positive experience boosting the students’ confidence, encouraginginternal motivation for learning a second foreign language, and avoided using tests as a meansfor identifying ignorance. During classes they effectively employed students' previous10

linguistic knowledge and strategies, and carried out classes in concert with multilingualdidactics in the sphere of vocabulary and grammar, learning topics, intercultural topics,connections with other schools abroad and extramural activities. Teachers reported that theyemployed modern second foreign language teaching methods, including internaldifferentiation, pair work, group work, role play and didactic games; they also employedinformation and communication technologies, assessed students’ output, did project work,established inter-subject connections and participated in an international project.The National Education Institute of the RS was introducing modern teaching methods byproviding combined forms of training for teachers in order to acquaint them with the most upto-dateand/or specific contents relevant to teaching a second foreign language: secondforeign language classes planning, knowledge assessment, differentiation of classes, Germanafter English, didactic games, multilingualism vs. plurilingualism, European LanguagePortfolio, foreign language learning processes, information and communication technologies,adjustments for students with special needs and talented students. Furthermore, together withmentor teachers we designed and established a well-functioning mentor network.Goal 5: Find out opinions of participants about the second foreign language introductionWe discovered that all the participants in the trial – students, teachers, headmasters andparents – supported the compulsory second foreign language introduction. According tostudents’ replies their willingness to learn two or more foreign languages was high: at least75% of the students surveyed wanted to study at least two foreign languages at school, andapproximately the same percentage were happy with the choice of language. The level of theirsatisfaction with the choice of language remained the same throughout the trial. According tothe students, speaking two or more foreign languages was an important factor contributing togeneral success in life and better employment opportunities. Correlations between thestudents’ opinions about learning foreign languages and their performance in learning foreignlanguages showed that more successful students placed stronger emphasis on the importanceof knowing foreign languages, and consequently more strongly supported a second foreignlanguage and wanted more weekly hours of the second foreign language as to them thoseclasses did not present as strong a burden as to their less successful peers.11

that in these adjusted programmes the status of a second or third foreign language is alreadyheld by the first foreign language taught in addition to Slovenian and Italian, or Slovenian andHungarian. We therefore suggest that the so-called second obligatory foreign language or afourth language in the weekly schedules of these programmes not be introduced and that itshould retain the status of a compulsory elective subject.We furthermore believe that a compulsory second foreign language in the schedules ofelementary schools with adjusted education programmes would present an additional burdenfor students and would be suitable only for those who want and are able to learn it, andtherefore believe that in these programmes a second foreign language should retain the statusof a compulsory elective subject.In order to ensure continuous learning of a second foreign language in secondary-schoolprogrammes we suggest that levels of learning in grammar-school programmes be readjusted,and classes with beginner and progressive levels of second foreign language learning bedesigned. We also suggest that a second compulsory foreign language be reintroduced into themandatory curriculum of secondary professional and vocational technical programmes afterhaving been abolished in 2001 with a secondary vocational and professional education reform.5. ConclusionAlthough the introduction of a compulsory second foreign language in elementary schools is atop-down change introduced into an education organisation (Pastuović 1999, p. 341), onewould anticipate worse results than were actually observed during monitoring. The reasonsfor the positive response to this change include gradual introduction, the manner of includingschools in the trial, relatively minor change in the weekly schedule of subjects, experience inteaching foreign languages as compulsory elective subjects, traditionally positive attitudestowards foreign language learning in Slovenian schools, foreign language classes outside theweekly schedule of subjects and greater emphasis on the importance of foreign languageknowledge in order to live in a multilingual society (Resolution 2008). Schools joined the trialby their own decision and in agreement with parents; furthermore, in order to apply for tenderthey had to meet the specified staffing and spatial conditions. During the introduction theNational Education Institute of the RS provided the schools with professional support in the14

form of training, professional meetings and direct contacts during visits to schools andobservation of classes. One of the reasons for the successful introduction is also theestablishment of professional support in the form of mentor network in which teachers caninformally share their experience, knowledge and teaching materials.Frontal introduction of a compulsory second foreign language formally foreseen for theschool year 2013/14 was abolished due to the proposed changes outlined in the White Paper(Krek and Metljak, 2011, p. 134) National expert group entrusted with the preparation of theWhite Paper on Education strove for the abolishment of a compulsory second foreignlanguage due to “notably different abilities” of students (ibid, p. 135). This proposal was firstsubstantiated by the fact – referring to the source Key data on teaching languages in Europe(2008) – that particular EU member states solved this problem in different ways, and that asecond foreign language in compulsory education was not-compulsory in 16 out of 31European states (ibid., p. 134). A more detailed review of the White Paper reveals that asecond foreign language is non-compulsory in only three countries, namely in the Frenchspeakingpart of Belgium, in Great Britain and in Ireland (cf. Key Data, 2008, Table B1, pp.29-30). As a further reason for abolishing a compulsory second foreign language the WhitePaper states the majority opinion of the surveyed teachers, headmasters and parents who donot want a second foreign language to be compulsory, but want to retain it as an electivesubject (Krek and Metljak, 2011, p. 134). Supposing that the views of the people surveyedcould be a strong enough reason for abolishing a school subject, we still cannot ignore theunpersuasive argument about different abilities of students and inaccurate statementsregarding the number of states with a non-compulsory second foreign language. This at thesame time poses the question whether a survey as an investigation method was sufficient foran in-depth analysis of the situation and proposed changes, and why the investigation did nottake into consideration the available trial monitoring results. And finally, teachers,headmasters, students and parents from the 159 elementary schools where a compulsorysecond foreign language is already being taught can by no means be happy with suchstatements and will justly feel cheated.The trial monitoring findings outlined here prove that the trial was successful from theorganisational and didactical point of view, while for a systemic introduction furtheradjustments for particular programmes as well as constant professional support for schools areneeded. Due to changed external circumstances introduction of a compulsory second foreign15

language into all schools may not be feasible. At the end of the three-year gradualintroduction of a compulsory second foreign language into elementary schools we canconfirm Alderson’s claim that introducing changes into language education is a complexprocess dependent on many different factors – on macro- and micropolitical as well aspersonal level (Anderson, 2009, p. 3).6. References• Alderson, J. Ch. (ed.) (2009). The Politics of Language Education: Individuals andInstitutions. Bristol, Buffalo, Toronto. Multilingual Matters.• Deutsch, T. (2011). Analiza zbranih podatkov za letno poročilo o spremljavi poskusa»Postopno uvajanje obveznega drugega tujega jezika v osnovne šole« v šolskem letu2010/11. Appendix B. In: Kač, L. 2011. Končno poročilo o spremljavi poskusa»Postopno uvajanje obveznega drugega tujega jezika v osnovni šoli« za šolska leta2008/2009, 2009/2010 in 2010/2011. Zavod RS za šolstvo Accessed: (27. 11. 2011)• Deutsch, T. (2010). Analiza zbranih podatkov za letno poročilo o spremljavi poskusa»Postopno uvajanje obveznega drugega tujega jezika v osnovne šole« v šolskem letu2009/2010. Appendix B. In: Kač, L. 2010. Poročilo o spremljavi poskusa »Postopnouvajanje obveznega drugega tujega jezika v osnovni šoli« za šolsko leto 2009/2010.Zavod RS za šolstvo. Accessed: (27. 11.2011).• Deutsch, T. (2009). Analiza zbranih podatkov za letno poročilo o spremljavi poskusa»Postopno uvajanje obveznega drugega tujega jezika v osnovne šole« v šolskem letu2008/2009. Appendix 1. In: Kač, L. 2009. Poročilo o spremljavi poskusa »Postopnouvajanje obveznega drugega tujega jezika v osnovni šoli« za šolsko leto 2008/2009.Zavod RS za šolstvo. Accessed: (27. 11.2011)• Kač, L. (2011). Končno poročilo o spremljavi poskusa »Postopno uvajanje obveznegadrugega tujega jezika v osnovni šoli« za šolska leta 2008/2009, 2009/2010 in2010/2011. Zavod RS za šolstvo. Accessed: 11. 2011)• Kač, L. in N. Šečerov (2008). Načrt projekta Postopnouvajanje obveznega drugega tujega jezika v osnovni šoli, sprejeto na Strokovnem16

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