ERG SES D 04, Foreign Language Education
Inclusive education, foreign language knowledge and sport are among the priority topics in the European Union, since it aims a “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth” for 2020 (EU, 2013). The acquisition of a foreign language is pivotal for the growth and stability of Europe because, by fostering the development of communicative skills and learning about other cultures, it promotes inclusion and citizenship by preventing the formation of prejudices. Yet, children with special educational needs and/or disabilities are at a disadvantage and possibly marginalised in given the opportunity to learn a foreign language. The European Commissions (2005) document on language learning, Special Educational Needs in Europe, The Teaching and Learning of Languages, Insights and Innovation, acknowledges that language learning is a lifelong endeavour and the predominant aim is to find the most appropriate individualized curriculum in school. It finds challenging to elaborate a specific language learning approach without any labelling, “labels are for bottles, not for people ”.
Notwithstanding that learning should be interesting, motivating and challenging for ‘all’ children, the use of movement and games can be a teaching strategy to overcome the barriers to learning for some children. The research on games in general and specifically on its impact on foreign language learning is quite wide and re-discovered recently (Winnicott, 1971; Littlewood, 1981;Parente, 2010) but its general use in teaching in schools has yet to be used to its full potential. One exception is Asher’s ‘Total Physical Response’ (TPR, 1969) Method. However, it rather concentrates on the use of body as a complementary tool, as a sensor for better acquisition of a foreign language whereas we reckon that movement and games could have a fruitful effect on the group or classroom community as well. Thus, we reckon that both games and movement have a social constructive characteristic which can lower anxiety, which is significant either in the implementation of inclusion and for successful foreign language teaching (Ellis, 1997, Larsen-Freeman, 2000).
If movement can be beneficial to the individual, our question is whether these contribute to the fulfillment of the inclusive pedagogy and to the support of teaching in classrooms with children with SEN? If so, to what extent and under what conditions?
We suppose that a method primarily based on movement or games would foster the achievement of inclusive didactics and a qualitative way of foreign language teaching. One aspect of the movement is well-defined within Asher’s TPR method but we are more interested in a wider sense of movement, that is as a tool for facilitating communication, to help inclusion and bring closer the members of a group. Does movement have these characteristics, if yes to what extent?
The research aims to define movement and game in educational context, their role in Modern Foreign Language teaching and learning and in inclusive education in Europe. Furthermore, beyond theory, we intend to observe the realities in MFL teaching in secondary mainstream schools across Europe, such as in Italy and England. The theoretical background contains references to Hungary as well since the researcher is Hungarian but the project is due to an Erasmus mobility scholarship for PhD.
This paper focuses mainly on the findings from a 3-month Erasmus study visit in England, although it provides a comparison with the findings in Italy. Thus, the paper presents the research planning and working abroad that hopefully will be valuable in defining the future roles of research in Europe.
References European Commission (2005) Special Educational Needs in Europe, The Teaching and Learning of Languages, Insights and Innovation, Teaching Languages to Learners with Special Needs Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (2007) Modern Foreign Languages – programme of study for key stage 3 and attainment targets Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (2009) Developing skills – Planning, teaching and assessing the curriculum for pupils with learning difficulties Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (2009) Modern Foreign languages – Planning, teaching and assessing the curriculum for pupils with learning difficulties DfE (2013) Languages programmes of study: key stage 3, DfE: London James J. Asher (1996) Learning Another Language Through Actions, Los Gatos, CA, Sky Oaks Productions Dario Ianes (2005) Bisogni Educativi Speciali e inclusione, Valutare le reali necessità e attivare tutte le risorse, Edizioni Erickson, Trento, ITA, Fabio Dovigo (2007) Fare differenze, Indicatori per l’inclusione scolastica degli alunni con Bisogni Educativi Speciali, Edizioni Erickson, 2007, Lavis (TN), ITA Lucia di Anna (1998) La Pedagogia Speciale, Rome Maurizio Parente (2010) La fabbrica dei giochi – Strategie ludiche per i bambini con BES, Edizioni Erickson, Trento Rod Ellis (1997) Second Language Acquisition, Oxford University Press Donald W. Winnicott (1974)Playing and Reality, trad. In Italian, Armando Edizione, Rome James J. Asher The Total Physical Response Approach to Second Language Learning, in: The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 53, No. 1 (Jan., 1969), pp. 3-17 Maria Silvia Todeschi, Paula Cristina Pedroso e Cloves Amorim Il gioco come risorsa per realizzare l’inclusione, In: Imparare a includere, a cura di Isabel Cristina Hierro Parolin, 2006, pp.99-111. Traduzione italiana 2010, Edizioni Erickson, Lavis (TN) Alfredo J. Artiles & Janette K. Klingner (2006) Forging a Knowledge Base on English Language Learners with Special Needs: Theoretical,Population, and Technical Issues, conference paper, Columbia University, Teachers College Record Zsuzsanna Abrams (2008) Alternative Second Language Curricula for Learners with Disabilities: Two Case Studies, in: The Modern Language Journal,
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