1st Experimental Lyceum of Athens

Author(s): European Schoolnet
Institution/Organisation: 1st Experimental Lyceum of Athens (GR)

1. Profile of school

1.1 Main characteristics

The school is an upper secondary school in an urban district of Athens. It is a state funded, mixed school with approximately 250 pupils. The school is deemed experimental because of the approach to teaching taken by the teachers who are chosen for their specialist qualifications in advanced teaching methods.

1.2 Language teaching in the schools.

The main language of communication in the school is Greek and the main languages taught are English, French, and German. Of these, English is the main language and is taught to a high level, while both French and German are taught to a medium level. The study of English is compulsory, while French and German are optional. None of the languages are taught for the assessment in the public examinations. There are only internal examinations.
The teachers in the school take part in teacher exchange programmes funded by the Comenius action while the pupils also take part in exchanges funded by both Comenius and the Lingua programmes. There are no foreign language assistants in the school.
The school has a strong tradition of teaching using Information Communication Technology and it has broadband Internet connection to use for this purpose. The teachers and pupils use the internet, together with such tools as digital cameras, office suite software, Front Page web publishing tools, Shockwave, Photoshop, digital authoring tools Exe and tools for communication such as email, forums, chat, and video conferencing. The teachers also use a virtual learning environment.

2.  Profile of the language initiative

2.1 General description of the eTwinning action

The eTwinning action is one of the activities that make up the Comenius programme, the school education section of the Lifelong Learning Programme. It currently has 60,000 registered users. Schools and teachers often opt for eTwinning, as it is an easy and non-bureaucratic means of starting a European project. It is unique among the Comenius actions, insofar as it has a dedicated communication space for teachers equipped with a wide range of online communication tools designed for use in the project implementation. Unlike the Comenius school partnership programme, there is no funding for schools involved in eTwinning, and many teachers use eTwinning to begin their Comenius projects while they are waiting for approval, or else to continue the project after the funded period is finished.

The importance of language learning is central to the work of all Comenius actions, and eTwinning is no exception. Within eTwinning, it is impossible to carry out a project without touching in some way on language. This language can be the mother tongue of the project schools, or, as is more often the case, a common third language used as the medium of communication.


2.2.  Description of the language initiative

This school has taken part in several eTwinning projects since 2005.  The project used for this case study was carried out between the Greek school and an Italian school. The work was organised by individual teachers working with groups of pupils aged about 16 +, as an extra-curricular activity. The subject of the project was Greek and Southern Italian civilization; to examine the influences, similarities,  architecture, customs, etc, which provided an opportunity to expand vocabulary on a wide range of topics. To facilitate the process, the teachers created an online seminar to teach the pupils the Greek and the Italian languages.

The pupils worked in groups with their partners on specific topics and found the work exciting because they had to carry out their own research. As part of the collaborative learning the teachers organised quizzes, competitions and games between groups which of course stimulated their enthusiasm for the project. The pupils spent 4-5 hours per week participating in this seminar over one school year.

3. Evaluation

By participating in eTwinning projects, the pupils were strongly motivated to learn several foreign languages. In particular the participation in the eTwinning platform encouraged a real willingness on the part of our pupils for this. The pupils spent for example 1- 2 hours per week on the platform chatting with their partners.

The pupils also created some extremely interesting foreign language material for the project, including texts, power point presentations, games, a virtual museum, and animations.


3.1.  Success factors

One of the main success factors in the openness of the school management to teacher an pupil involvement in international projects. The teachers perceive these international projects as a strong motive for the pupils to be more positive in foreign languages classes.

3.2. Success Indicators

Some of the pupils continued their language learning with private lessons after they graduated, because they wished to continue their communication with their friends from abroad.  The teachers also observed that some pupils who were normally very silent in foreign language classes became more active and their written work was improved. 
In the opinion of teachers, the success of the initiatives was due to the method that enabled pupils to learn a foreign language in a very natural way by communicating with their partners. They had to speak and write texts and they had to collaborate in a very interactive way. So, foreign language was not merely seen as a subject of the curriculum but also a way to broaden their horizons and meet people all over the world.