Outside-in: bringing the community into school – motivation for languages

Author(s): Filomena Dos Reis Conceição
Institution/Organisation: Escola Secundária de Tomás Cabreira, Faro (PT)


1.1 Scope of the initiative

We are trying to put a language strategy into practice to motivate students to learn languages. This strategy is connected to the basis of the courses involved in the study – vocational courses. The belief in a close relationship with external stakeholders in students’ field of interest is at the core of our task force. These vocational course students sometimes do not understand the need of a multilingual competence for their future profession so that this project can be an opportunity to make them feel open-minded about learning foreign languages and to improve their multilingual competence.

1.2 Range of languages studied

Mainstream English and English for Specific Purposes make part of the curriculum, though, whenever possible and reasonable, students become aware of how advantageous it is to know other languages.

1.3 Learning outcomes

The expected learning outcomes will hopefully be to develop English language competence, to promote multilingual competence, to reuse transferable skills and to increase knowledge of the world of work.

1.4 Practical realisation

We have been sensitising students to multilingualism and, specifically, to languages learning in professional contexts. This school year we have just started to establish contacts with professionals of international enterprises to come to school and to present their activity and their language problems in this tourist region we live in – the Algarve. Here English is absolutely a need, but it is definitely not enough. They should explain students not only which linguistic problems they feel, but also which intercultural constraints they face in the world of work.


2.1 Context

There is not such thing as a language policy at my school as it does not have autonomy to develop policies on its own. My School and my Department (Department of Germanic Language and Culture) have made efforts to promote a running thread to emphasise the vocational trend in the new courses that every school year have the chance to start at our school as a means to give answer to the necessities of the local community or even of broader communities (my school receives students from other regions of the country). Every school year more and more vocational courses are conquering their place in the curriculum: we can offer accountancy vocational course; chemistry analysis vocational course; clerical vocational course, electricity vocational course, “mechatronics” vocational course; receptionist vocational course and contemporary dancing vocational course. The context in which these technical courses appear can be explained by the need teenager have to get into the world of work as fast as possible and so that they may start earning money.
The students who attend this kind of courses are between fifteen years old and twenty years old.


2.2 Strategic goals of the initiative

Enhancing  language competences;
Linking language knowledge and language competence to other professional competences;
Promoting a multilingual competence connected to the real world communication;
Creating an integrated approach to language learning within a profession;
Enabling students to gain access to specialist material  and to specialist terminology and specialised communication aspects;
Developing general communicative skills in the L2 (but also in L1);
Developing specific communicative skills in the L2 – making academic presentations or writing academic articles, workplace related communicative skills, etc;
Promoting internships;
Linguistic diversity, i.e. the learning of a wider range of languages;
Cultural openness;
Development of students’ autonomy with a view to lifelong language learning.


Interest in language classes increases;
Students are more motivated to read and write about their area of studies;
It seems students understand the role of languages in our global world
Objectively verifiable gains in language competence
Greater uptake of other languages learning possibilities and of the use of languages in the context of work
(to be completed)


As the case study finds itself in an ongoing process, I will only be in the position to have this information in a more advanced stage, during its evaluation. (June/July)


5.1 Lessons to be learned at institutional level

As the case study finds itself in an ongoing process, I will only be in the position to have this information in a more advanced stage, during its evaluation. (June/July)

5.2 Broader implications

As the case study finds itself in an ongoing process, I will only be in the position to have this information in a more advanced stage, during its evaluation. (June/July)