Universidade do Minho / Instituto de Letras e Ciências Humanas (ILCH)

Author(s): Orlando Grossegesse (with Marie Manuelle Costa Silva)
Institution/Organisation: Universidade do Minho / Instituto de Letras e Ciências Humanas (ILCH) (PT)


1.1 Scope of the initiative

The umbrella initiative initiated by the Faculty of Arts & Humanities (Instituto de Letras e Ciências Humanas – ILCH) at the Minho University (UM) involves progressively other units of this university and other institutions:
1) UM:

  • Departments of the Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology (Instituto de Educação e Psicologia – IEP) involved in the Teacher Training program (now Postgraduate Program within the Bologna System)
  • Central pedagogical surveillance unit (Conselho Académico - CAc), specifically the Commission dealing with the collaboration between University and Schools in the area of Teacher Training (Comissão Coordenadora dos Núcleos de Estágio).
  • Public Relations Bureau (Gabinete de Comunicação, Informação e Imagem = GCII).
  • Bureau for International Relations (Gabinete de Relações Internacionais = GRI).

2) other institutions:

  • schools that have already established a partnership within the Teacher Training program or are willing to establish it;
  • schools that want to collaborate with the UM in the promotion of multilingualism, independently from collaboration in the above mentioned Teacher Training program.
  • bilateral political, cultural and economic institutions and associations on a national level (embassy / consulate, cultural institute, chambers of commerce and industry, teachers’ and scholars’ associations);
  • regional and local institutions and associations interested in the policy of Multilingualism: Municipal Councils of Braga, Guimarães, Barcelos and Famalicão [= Polis XXI]; Cultural Associations (Velha-à-Branca Estaleiro Cultural; …).
  • National Administration Directory for Primary and Secondary Schools (Direcção Geral do Ensino do Norte - DREN).

1.2 Range of languages learned

The umbrella initiative concerns in the first place all languages studied in the Primary and Secondary Schools: English, French, German and Spanish. Instead of the traditional concept that focusses on the promotion of one FL in competition with the others, this initiative intends to promote a global conscience of Multilingualism. In this spirit, languages not taught at Portuguese public schools within the curricula, but that can be offered as an extra-curricular activity (club concept) are also included.

According to the range of languages that can be learned at the UM, on a curricular (Graduate courses : European Languages and Literatures ; Applied Languages ; International Relations ; International Business) or extra-curricular level (open courses : annual, semestral or intensive), the traditional core English, French, German and Spanish is complemented by Italian, Russian and Arab (in Applied Languages; International Relations; International Business) and by Chinese and Japanese (in Asian Languages and Cultures): partnership of UM with the Confucius Institute, allocated at the Gualtar Campus). Open courses are also offered in European minority languages such as Galician and Catalan.

1.3 Learning outcomes


  • Achievement of at least B2 (English) and at least B1 (1-2 other languages) competences on the CEFRL before entering the HEI.
  • Awareness of the linguistic variety of Europe and its relevance for academic life and employability; motivation to go beyond the study of English and Spanish.
  • Awareness of the necessity to acquire specific communicative skills relating to academic life and to employability (familiarity with special modular / intensive extra-curricular units to be offered by UM-ILCH for HE-candidates and freshmen, in preparation for studying abroad).
  • Enhanced learner autonomy before entering the HEI: familiarity with ongoing multi-Language: learning during study programs (curricular or complementary); ability and motivation to make self-learning and self-evaluation (portfolio) an important complement within an overall concept of language learning (e.g. blended learning).
  • Increased intercultural awareness and competence.
  • Knowledge about the existing documents / templates (Europass) able to certify competences within the CEFRL; knowledge about the supplementary document of the Minho University (Passaporte CCI – UM) that certifies competences within this framework at the end of the academic career, Graduate or Postgraduate (approved by CAc in January 2006, has to be implemented).

1.4 Practical realisation

Main instruments:

  • APPEAL-agreement between UM and schools or other institutions (analogous bilateral agreements within a network philosophy). It provides an official framework for actions and events in the promotion of multilingualism that will be annually (re)defined. This agreement can be established additionally to the agreement within the Teacher Training program (see below) or autonomously.
  • APPEAL-webpage (in construction) with partly open access / reserved access (partners), hosted at the UM-website ( and with access from ILCH [main editor], IEP [editor] and partners [without editor function].
  • The non-hierarchical network is based on a (initially rather disconnected) communicative structures that have been established over the years on different levels: 1) University, 2) the promoting faculty (= ILCH), and 3) ILCH-Departments + 4) IEP-Departments that comprise Foreign Languages or Teaching of Foreign Languages.

1)    at UM level

  • Since 2006, collective agreement with Primary and Secondary Schools that cooperate within the Teacher Training programme: actually 34 Clusters of schools (Agrupamentos) and 25 schools. A number of these are collaborating in the area of Portuguese (Language, Culture, Literature) and Foreign Languages.
  • GCII (Univ. Office for Communication, Image and Information): network policy in order to promote university courses (not only candidates form Secondary School but long/middle-term-strategy also directed to Primary School): activities during the year and concentrated in July (“Summer at the University”).
  • GRI (Univ. Office for International Relations): network policy with mainly European Universities (Erasmus); fostering of annual mobility programs (incoming and outgoing students and scholars).
  • -    Certification of competences, within the parameters and categories of the CEFRL: UM Passport of Intercultural Communicative Competence (approved in January 2006; has still to be implemented).

2)    at Arts & Humanities Faculty (= ILCH)

  • MAVE (Mission Group Activities for Schools and at Schools): faculty activities directed at study programme coordinators, career advisers; teachers and learners at Primary and Secondary Schools in Northern Portugal (Minho, Alto Douro Region and Greater Porto); collaboration with GCII.
  • MULTI_FEEL project (projecto multilingue de formação especializada em línguas) aims at enhancing and getting together a number of activities held by the different departments, which have been carried out in a dispersed and isolated way up until now. It also aims at rationalizing the human, financial and logistic resources available at ILCH. Its training plan is composed of a number of common and transversal workshops and a number of language-specific ones (English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish). This project inaugurates a regular training cycle (once a year), characterized by its continuous and cumulative aspects, where the relationship between the ILCH and the Schools is well and truly bilateral. The project provides conditions for developing a consistent network of partners and projects with real effects on the training, teaching and learning. Involving all ILCH language departments, Multi_feel is a key initiative within the network.
  • Jornadas do Conto (Story-Telling Event) [annual event since 1998, originating from the French Dep. With expansion to other units], open to the variety of languages (mother tongue and FL) with focus on oral skills (listening, speaking) and fostering intercultural awareness; involving competition activity (including on-line on website) and workshops (creative writing, dramatic expression) not only directed at UM students but also to the school population of the network, expandable (in collaboration with MAVE).
  • Cursos Livres (Open Courses) [since 1986]: annual FL-courses of a very varied nature directed to students of all faculties and the population of the Minho Region. The coordination is allocated to one ILCH Vice-Dean.

3)    Departments ILCH

All collaborate within MAVE: offer of annual activities and “Summer at the University” (GCII); collaboration in events dedicated to the theme of Multilingualism at schools and at university.

German Department:

  • Website with links to schools and associations; activities with participation of schools and associations:
  • since 2006, Karaoke in German with participation of schools (annual event);
  • since 1995, Students’ theatre (annual event);
  • since 1995, Students’ magazine Einfall (semestral);
  • since 2000, radio programmes (Rádio Universitário do Minho – RUM) (occasionally).

Activities directed to students of all faculties and population of the Minho Region:

  • since 2005, PETRA intensive course preparation for studying in German-speaking countries (in February and September);
  • since 2006, open courses and cultural activities in collaboration with a local association (Estaleiro Cultural);
  • since 2007, language café PETRA-Deutsch-Stammtisch (monthly).
  • Since 2002, long-term agreement with Goethe Institut Portugal (national level) and collaboration with the German-Portuguese Chamber of Industry and Commerce – Northern region (CCILA), the German Consulate (Porto) and the Austrian Embassy (Lisbon).

French Department:

  • Website with links to schools and associations; activities with participation of schools and associations:
  • since 2002, Karaoke in French (annual event);
  • since 1996 radio programs (Rádio Universitário do Minho – RUM) (every week);
  • since 1998 main support to Jornadas do Conto with participation of schools.

Activities directed to students of all faculties and population of the Minho Region:

  • short / intensive courses (annually).
  • Long-term agreement with les services culturels de l’Ambassade de France (national level), l’attaché de coopération linguistique (Porto), le Conseil des Arts du Canada et l’Ambassade de Belgique.

Department of English and North-American Studies:

  • Website with links to schools and associations; activities with participation of schools and associations:
  • since 2003, Karaoke in English (annual event);

Activities directed to students of all faculties and population of the Minho Region:

  • short/intensive courses of English.
  • Long-term agreement with the British Council.

Others collaborate within MAVE:

  • Section of Spanish and Hispano-American Studies; Centre for Oriental Languages and Cultures (mainly own policy in partnership with Confucius Institute); readers for Italian Studies and for Russian Studies.

4)    Departments IEP (Education & Psychology Faculty)

Working Group – Pedagogy for Autonomy (GT-PA)
The Working Group – Pedagogy for Autonomy (GT-PA) was founded in 1997 in the wake of a series of studies and projects carried out by the Department of Methodologies of Education, with the general aim of articulating a reflective practice with a learner-centred pedagogy.
The GT-PA members are foreign language teachers (English teachers mainly), teacher trainers and/or researchers at primary / secondary school and University levels. The group is conceived as a 'learning space' for teachers to explore, discuss and disseminate a pedagogy for autonomy in the FL teaching and learning process and contexts.
The activities carried out by GT-PA are financed by the Centre of Research in Education of the Institute of Education and Psychology of the Minho University and are coordinated by Prof. Flávia Vieira. It involves around 50 language teachers and researchers, in Portugal and in Europe.

Project Netescrit@
Netescrit@ is a project  that seeks to contribute to the development of the reading and writing skills of children and young people and functions in the Competence Centre of the University of Minho. Its main focus is the improvement of competences in Portuguese Language, Culture and Literature, making available biographies of Portuguese-language authors of books for children and young people, texts by the participants, synopses of the writers’ works. It provides opportunities for self-assessment exercises of text comprehension, collaborative writing with the authors, discussion forums, meetings with the authors.
It also maintains a blog where students from primary and lower secondary school children write in a foreign language. Analogue opportunities can be provided.

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