Úna Carthy welcomed language teachers from both third and second level to the seminar. She explained the role of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning and the great work it does to highlight important issues and provide a platform to discuss them.
In the following short video, Úna gives an overview of this seminar series: Welcome to Digital Pathways into Learning Languages – National Forum Seminar series
Úna gave some background as to why she is leading out this initiative. Linguistic skill are not only much sought after by employers, but also important for cognitive, interpersonal and intercultural development. The government’s new Languages Connect strategy has prioritised language learning at both second and third level, creating a new momentum around this issue; however, the numbers pursuing languages remain alarmingly low. With the global spread of English, learning other languages has become increasingly challenging.
She suggested that new digital platforms might provide a way forward for the teaching and learning of languages. Technology enhanced learning can transcend time and space barriers, traditionally associated with the language classroom. It has the potential to provide authentic input, creating real life scenarios, similar to immersion settings. Harnessing digital technologies could overcome geographical distances and enable learning partnerships in various schools and colleges across Europe to develop. Moreover, it could stimulate an appetite for international mobility.
Úna drew attention to the Lingo Club initiative at Letterkenny Institute of Technology which won the Léargas Language Label award in 2012. The website and blog created by LyIT students showcases all the club’s activities, providing a valuable source of linguistic and intercultural content. Local second level pupils were also involved in many of the events. All content is closely monitored and password protected, to ensure that content is educationally valuable and suitable.
The concept of Etwinning was also mentioned in this context, as Úna remarked that her two guest speakers, Brendan Colleran and Neil O’Sullivan, are both Etwinning ambassadors for Léargas. E-Twinning is a free online platform, uniting a community of more than 500,000 teachers across Europe. It is available to primary and post primary schools. The platform can be used to work on joint projects in any curricular area, using ICT.
The two guest speakers were welcomed to the seminar. Brendan Colleran is a second level teacher at Castletroy College in Limerick. He has been a coordinator and partner on a number of Comenius and Erasmus Plus projects. An E-Twinning ambassador since 2010, he has won a number of quality awards. One of these projects is showcased via the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xi_Oxz5qEfE. In the following interview, Brendan describes his experience with E-Twinning and Erasmus Plus: Interview with Brendan Colleran at Digital Pathways into Languages
The second speaker, Neil O’Sullivan, is currently based in Dublin. In addition to his role as ETwinning ambassador, he is a member of the steering committee and chief validator for Digital Schools of Distinction. He has a keen interest in Life Long Learning and developing 21st century skills in schools, for which he has developed a Transition Year curriculum. In the following interview, Neil outlines his concept of digital learning pathways: Interview with Neil O Sullivan at Digital Pathways into Languages