eTwinning projects Second Level School Italy (French, Italian)

Author(s): European Schoolnet
Institution/Organisation: Liceo Scientifico "Francesco Cecioni" (IT)

1. Profile of school

1.1 Main characteristics

This is a large state school with approximately 1350 students. It specialised in scientific subjects, but pupils have the choice of following a scientific stream or a mixed stream including foreign languages. Since 1974, the school has a tradition of developing innovative approaches in its pedagogic practices. It is situated near the sea and a major Italian seaport and as a result has a cosmopolitan tradition among staff and pupils.

 

1.2 Language teaching in the schools

Four foreign languages are taught in the school, French, English, Spanish and German. Within the language stream, the four languages are taught to level B1 for the foreign language baccalaureate. In the other streams, only English is taught to level B1 over five years. If pupils choose the language stream, they must study French with either Spanish, German or English.

All pupils in the school learn at least one foreign language, and there is a teaching assistant available for each language to compliment the work done by the language teachers The CLIL method is being introduced into the school next year. All the language teachers make extensive use of ICT in their work, including the eTwinning platform.

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 language initiative

The teacher involved in this case study has worked with over 19 eTwinning projects, which have been fully integrated in the school foreign language curriculum with all the classes she teaches. One of the projects she coordinated won the prize in the age category 16 – 19 in the European eTwinning prize 2008. All of the projects have been awarded the eTwinning European Quality Label, (EQL) and another project was among the top 70 projects in the 2008 eLearning Awards.  All the projects are carried out during school time with the regular class of between 23 to 31 pupils.  The pupils are aged between 15 and 18 years. The language medium of all the projects is French. The classes were of one-hour duration three times per week. The other partners in these projects include, France, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Spain and the Czech Republic.

The themes of the projects vary depending on the class.  For example, the theme for one project was for the young people to recount the daily experiences of their lives and in so doing, rediscover their culture, their civilisations and understand the differences between them through the use of analogies. To this end, all the exchanges were made using a forum, a wiki, chat, podcasting, and a website. The aim for every project however remains the same, to help the pupils increase their language skills both spoken and written in a real life situation.

The experience of eTwinning for the pupils proved to be an enthusing experience. By using ICT in a creative pedagogic context, both the teacher and the pupils developed their skill, the teacher in the area of creative pedagogic practice and the pupils in the area of their foreign language proficiency. The main tool of communication was Skype, utilised by both teachers and pupils as their medium of exchange. Subjects were proposed, discussed and then the follow-up activities followed. These activities consisted of concrete products such as a podcast, carried out by the pupils and directed by the teachers from a constructivist framework. In spite of the difference in programme among the various countries, the use of French at L2 level allowed our pupils to integrate and enrich their foreign language experience.

3. Evaluation

3.1 Success Factors

There are two main factors to the success of language teaching in the school. Firstly there is the policy at school management level to encourage pupils to study at least one foreign language, with two foreign languages being compulsory in certain streams. The school offers a range of languages to choose from and pupils do not consider it strange to be exposed to other languages and culture.

The second factor of success in this case is the enthusiasm and dedication of the teacher who provides relevant and creative pedagogic approaches to encourage her pupils to learn. She is a technology expert as well as a language expert and brings highly original approaches to her teaching of language.

 

3.2 Success Indicators

The greatest success factor is the increased motivation of the pupils. The teacher reported that when the pupils discovered that their computer screens allowed them to be transported into the mountains and valleys of another country to work with other Europeans, this proved to be an enormous motivation for the pupils who used French as their language of communication while at the same time learning to manipulate the ICT tools.

Other indicators include the improvement in  their in-class grades, and an increased confidence when facing the aural and oral sections of their examinations.