Globalisation as a challenge for European development policies and the citizens of Europe: simulation of a European/Latin American summit meeting

Author(s): Guido Bösader
Institution/Organisation: Albert-Schweitzer-Gymnasium Hürth (DE)

Description of project

The “simulation globale” forming the basis of this project involves an integrated learning approach that enables, to equal degrees, cognitive, affective, methodical and linguistic learning. In this concrete case – the preparation, realisation and evaluation of a European/Latin American summit meeting on the theme of shaping a more just world – the focus was on the following learning objectives: the promotion of problem-solving thinking, the acquisition of knowledge relating to development policy in a global context, the development of empathy for the life situations of other people, autonomous management of group processes by pupils and the promotion of free and fluent speaking in formalised and non-formalised situations.
The pupils of the 10th academic year of the German-Spanish bilingual section of the Albert-Schweitzer-Gymnasium Hürth first carried out the simulation in an project phase that accompanied school lessons from 22.06. to 01.07.2005 (12 lesson periods, 6 of which within a project day), while they acquired the requisite basic knowledge in a preparatory phase in Politics lessons (6 lesson periods). Since 2005 the simulation has formed a regular component of the school’s internal curriculum.
The intensive participation of the involved pupils that is inherent to the chosen method was reflected in the following project-phase-specific activities: creation and definition of identities at the personal and subject-specific levels, negotiation and fixing of the positions of the persons or groups involved, concluding plenary session, general reflection on the behaviour generated by the specific roles and on the linguistic appropriateness.
The results of the pupils’ actions at the level of the simulation were recorded in a virtual forum. At the meta level a documentary film was produced.

Student orientation

The class-10 pupils involved in the project are members of the senior classes of the bilingual German-Spanish section of the Albert-Schweitzer Gymnasium (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages Competence Level B2 = Vantage). The learning group is generally of good ability, but at the same time may be described as highly heterogeneous. The “simulation globale” method allows all pupils to engage in linguistic activity according to their abilities. Individual interests can be supported through an allocation of roles that is both pragmatic and sensitive, through the creation of help systems and through the provision of linguistic aids. The method’s integrated approach also allows other competencies to be included in addition to linguistic activities (e.g. organisational skills, capacity for teamwork, creativity).
The simulated world provides many opportunities for autonomous learning and helps to make political participation tangible (also at the affective level).
In terms of curriculum the project has a bridging function. Knowledge and abilities promoted at the methodical, subject-related and linguistic levels in the last two years of the bilingual programme in Level I of secondary education are reactivated and applied. At the same time, free and fluent speaking in diverse communication situations is practiced as part of the preparations for the demands of education in the senior classes. The pupils in the learning group who have a mother-tongue background are assigned an expert role here.

Improvement of language teaching and learning

The use of the target language as a vehicular language means that language learning is not perceived as a process steered by the teacher. The pupils regard the communication in the foreign language as natural and necessary for achieving their personal goals. Moreover, this creates high motivation for an intensive and autonomous approach to the target language.
Particularly when obtaining information in the internet, the pupils discovered that knowledge of foreign languages is essential for more broad-ranging and multiperspectival access to a specific complex of themes. To give one example, knowledge of French and above all English is very helpful, or indeed absolutely necessary, when research EU issues in the internet.

The “simulation globale” creates an authentic need for language that provides a special motivatory stimulus for weaker pupils and generates learning progress across the board. In addition, the pupils also need to conduct internet research and deal with English-language texts into order to establish their positions.
The complexity of the language use situation requires the participants to produce texts in the form of curriculum vitae and statements. In the area of oral language usage and in interaction the focus is on formulating one’s own position (e.g. opening statement at the summit meeting) and in exploring the advantages and disadvantages of various options. In overall terms, particular emphasis is placed on the grammatical phenomenon of the subjunctive/indicative. The expressive powers of the pupils are strengthened through the acquisition of subject-related vocabulary.
In line with the overall concept, the pupils evaluate the project themselves, whereby they can utilise the materials provided by the teacher and make use of the virtual forum. Here the pupils distinguish between the perspective of the fictional identity and their own perspective as pupil.

Practical realisation

The “simulation globale” method opens up a complex world for the pupils. A transfer to every real-life situation is possible in principle, although this process takes place in clearly structured phases of development. Hence it is feasible in daily teaching practice to initiate a learning space formed by pupils themselves.

The phases of development on which the simulation was based were as follows: