According to both the Council of Europe and the European Union mobility is one of the cornerstones of European society. The lack of language competences is still one of the main barriers to participation in European education, training and youth programmes. With 4 million participants by 2020, Erasmus+ is a unique opportunity to study, train, gain work experience or volunteer abroad (EU, 2013). As languages are the heart of mutual understanding and comprehension, it is essential to promote language learning for Erasmus+ KA1 mobility participants.
On that basis EU has decided to offer linguistic support through the Online Linguistic Support (OLS) to selected participants for studying, carrying out a traineeship or volunteering abroad in the framework of long-term mobility activities supported under Erasmus+ Key Action 1 (HE students and staff, VET (at least 1 month mobility) learners/staff, adult and school education staff, Youth learners and workers). They will all have the opportunity to assess their language competence while only selected participants may follow an online language course to improve their language skills. This course offers a series of self paced short lessons (10min each), a weekly Massive Open Online Course (30min) and 2 monthly tutoring small group sessions (30min each).
We consider the following as ‘drawbacks’ for the Erasmus+ OLS:
Available courses not in 24 EU languages;
Highly limited opportunities for oral authentic communication and for peer-to-peer feedback (native or native level speakers);
Lack of opportunities for building Personal Language Learning Networks’ or a wider Community of EU mobility ‘supporters’;
No access to multilingual language Open Educational Resources (OERs) in 24 EU languages;
No emphasis on building cultural awareness.
Based on research findings (See next section) we believe that there is a an imperative need to create an open, authentic, social, interactive and enjoyable language learning environment that could further support the linguistic and intercultural needs of the EU+ KA1 mobility participants.
OVERALL OBJECTIVES: The OPENLang Network addresses the needs for linguistic skills and culture awareness of Erasmus+ KA1 mobility participants and the training needs for OERs of language teachers: a) Erasmus+ KA1 mobility participants (HE students & staff, VET , Adult & School education staff, Youth learners, Youth Workers, Youth Entrepreneurs) that need to boost their language skills (24 EU) and cultural awareness including those who will not enroll in the OLS courses. b) Volunteers language teachers who will support the Erasmus+ KA1 mobility participants offering their professional experience while receiving professional certified training on the creation, sharing and use of language OERs.
The OPENLang Network envisages to:
1) connect these 2 groups in an interactive collaborative environment (Web-based and mobile-based) that will support more efficiently their effort to raise language awareness of the target mobility EU languages and to develop European intercultural knowledge covering all EU cultures.
2) foster the Open Education European multicultural and multilingual vision to all OPENLang Network members.
Development of an open highly interactive, collaborative and multiservices Web and mobile-based platform which will offer a variety of e-services as well educational and cultural material, such as:
1) The E-Tandem 24 EU Languages Learning Matching Service;
2) Qualified Assessment Tools for 24 EU languages;
3) An Open & highly interactive Forum;
4) A Personal Member’s Dashboard;
5) An open and interactive database of Language Open Educational Resources (OERs);
6) An OERs e-Toolkit including a quality framework for Language OERs;
7) An Open Educational Practices (OEPs) e-Book;
8) A language teachers’ training MOOC on OERs creation, sharing and use.
Teachers’ professional development: All teachers who will voluntarily support this initiative will have the possibility to attend the MOOC offered by the OPENLang Network and to participate in a number of activities that will broaden their professional network such as 2 training webinars and a Pan-European OEPs contest for language teachers.
In order to successfully carry on the project, multiple languages and cultures (transnationally), as well interdisciplinary expertises in education (e.g. instructional design, language learning, tandem/collaborative learning, authentic learning) and technologies (e.g. game-based learning, learning analytics, recommendation systems, mobile learning, usability, accessibility) are required.
An Erasmus+ Project
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author. The Commission and the National agency cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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