Whole-School Language Profiles and Policies

Workshop 14-17 December 2005

Antoinette Camilleri Grima - Co-ordinator

At the Workshop


The Workshop was held at the ECML.  Twenty-two head teachers from different states participated actively throughout the workshop.  The team consisted of experts from four member states and represented various areas of relevance: head teachers and their role in the management of language education across the curriculum (Elisabeth Fleishmann from Austria); minority languages in education and the development of languages and teaching material (Madlena Norberg from Germany); teacher training and research on language in education (Andrea Young from France and Antoinette Camilleri Grima from Malta).  This was in line with the overall aim of the project: to support and further promote the idea that all the stakeholders have an important role in plurilingual education.  The sub-title "Ensemble" in fact denotes the need for the different partners within a school context (administrators, head teachers, teachers, parents, experts, etc.) to pull at the same rope, and to do so altogether!

Antoinette Camilleri Grima
Andrea Young
Madlena Norberg
Elisabeth Fleischmann

The aims of the Workshop were happily achieved.  This was successfully managed by alternating plenary presentations with group work, by involving participants in activities like poster presentations, "show and tell", and drama sessions.  The Workshop also included presentations by the team focusing on case studies that served as real life examples of how to implement plurilingual education in diverse ways.  Each presentation was followed by group work which gave participants the opportunity to develop tools for use in schools, such as examples of processes and products for plurilingual education, examples of staff development activities, plans for managing whole school projects and material development.

Dissemination of the Guide

One of the main aims of the Workshop was to disseminate the Guide among head teachers.  The co-ordinating team firmly believes that head teachers are key people in the implementation of language innovation.  Being in the know-how, they can contribute by stimulating change, taking the initiative themselves.

Each participant was given a copy of the Guide, and on the first morning the team made a panel presentation about it.  At various points during the Workshop reference was made to specific sections or pages.  For example, each of the case studies presented by the team members was linked to one or more ideas in the Guide.  The aim of these case studies, that were prepared in advance and distributed to the participants, was, in fact, to illustrate how the "theoretical" ideas presented in the Guide were being put into practice in real life.

The team in plenary

For example, Andrea Young explained how a multicultural primary school in Didenheim, France, took the initiative to invite parents to the school to share their various languages and cultures with the children.  This was a very successful way of valuing all languages, and of promoting respect among the children.  Madlena Norberg described the implementation of Sorbian immersion education, a minority language in a majority environment.  She gave an account of the decisions involved, the preparation needed both in linguistic and pedagogic terms, and the role of applied linguistics in the development of material for using a minority language across the curriculum.  Elisabeth Fleischmann gave a head teacher"s perspective on the management of curricular innovation.  She also showed participants around her bilingual school in Graz which certainly gave life to theory.  Antoinette Camilleri Grima focused on the importance of teacher preparation and "inside the school" staff development.

An original group work report

Towards the end of the Workshop participants were given a further opportunity to examine specific sections of the Guide.  The results of this session were presented as drama simulations by the participants in four groups.  This was a very enjoyable, and yet effective way of communicating the very basic ideas of plurilingual education as expressed in the Guide.

Watering language flowers

The team took the opportunity to hold a "cultural evening" during which a quiz was organised, stimulating further reflection about plurilingualism and intercultural competence.  The cultural evening turned out to be one of the most successful parts of the workshop not only because participants shared food and customs, but also because it helped to break the ice completely and to help them form networks in view of the post-workshop development.

Growing language flowers

Sweet break

Participants" Contribution

i. Poster Presentations

Each participant was asked to bring a poster to the workshop describing their school, and focusing on one of the Workshop themes. On the first afternoon of the Workshop the participants presented their posters and there was an interactive session to summarize the information which was presented in plenary at the end of the day.

ii. Show and Tell

An encouraging number of participants gave "show and tell" sessions which were run in two parallel sessions.  Ten presentations were made in all, and most of them consisted of power-point and video presentations.  They also focused on one or more of the workshop themes such as staff development, bilingual education, material development, and valuing all languages.

Poster session

Diversifying the language curriculum

iii. Group Work

Group work was held in relation to each of the case studies presented by the team members as a way of helping participants air their views, further reflect about the topics, and produce more refined tools for potential use in other schools.

Show & Tell


The benefits reaped from this Workshop can be summarised in the following way:

  1. This workshop served the important purpose of disseminating Council of Europe language policies.  The participants were all first-time visitors to the ECML and they expressed their appreciation of the Centre"s contribution to language education.  This workshop helped them to obtain more information about modern trends in the philosophy of language education, which were made available to them in the form of Council of Europe publications, and other material found in the ECML library.
  2. The project succeeded, through the workshop, to develop and make available a number of examples of good practice in plurilingual education and the promotion of plurilingualism.  These were provided both by team members and by participants in the shape of case studies, and were also presented during the posters session and the "show and tell".  The opportunity to "show and tell" in plenary and in group work created a great sense of "belonging" to a new generation of language educators and was very motivating for head teachers who might have felt that they were working in isolation.
  3. The workshop gave life to two successful network projects.  In one project four countries were involved: Spain, Romania, Croatia and Malta.  Students in the respective schools worked hard to prepare presentations on their own cultures that could be shared with their counterparts.  The Maltese and Spanish students will also be visiting each other in 2007.  The second network, between Austria and Slovenia succeeded in bringing together two groups of students who spent a day at each other"s school and town, and carried out a number of interesting intercultural activities.
  4. As a result of the project, and of the workshop in particular, a number of tools have been developed with the aim of facilitating and fostering plurilingualism and plurilingual education in as many schools as possible.

Finally, the general feeling was that it would be worthwhile to offer as many head teachers as possible the same opportunity of participating in similar workshops in the future.