Language Learning and Teaching in the Context of Twin Cities

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Language Learning and Teaching in the Context of Twin Cities.


  • European Centre for Modern LanguagesCentre europen pour les langues vivantes










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    Language learning and teaching in the context of twin cities

    Gilbert Dalgalian,Jacqueline Feuillet-Thieberger, Helena Kalve

    with Sverine Boulery, Aspasia Nanaki, Anita Vaivade



    ISBN 92-871-5212-8

    http://www.coe.intCouncil of Europe PublishingE 12 / US$ 18

    Language learning and teaching in the context of twin cities

    Gilbert Dalgalian, Jacqueline Feuillet-Thieberger, Helena Kalve with Sverine Boulery, Aspasia Nanaki, Anita Vaivade

    The twinning of cities and municipalities possibly represents the largest platform for encounter and mutual acquaintance established in modern times. However, can such a merger between the fellow-citizens of Europe be achieved without rst addressing in a determined way the issue of languages, of teaching languages and their diversity?

    Answers to this question can be found before, during and after visits to participating towns.

    School exchange programmes also deserve a better prepara-tion and a genuine teaching methodology for exchanges.

    The Council of Europe has forty-six member states, covering virtually the entire continent of Europe. It seeks to develop common democratic and legal principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals. Ever since it was founded in 1949, in the aftermath of the second world war, the Council of Europe has symbolised reconciliation.

  • In 1994, upon the initiative of Austria and the Netherlands, with special support from France, eight states founded the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) as an Enlarged Partial Agreement of the Council of Europe. It was to become a forum to discuss and seek solu-tions to the specific tasks and challenges that face them in the coming years and which will play a decisive role in the process of European integration. At the time of writing, thirty-three states subscribe to the Partial Agreement. Following a successful initial trial period (1995-1998), the continuation of the activities of the Centre was confirmed by Resolution (98)11 of the Committee of Ministers.

    The aim of the ECML is to offer generally through international workshops, colloquies and research and development networks and other expert meetings a platform and a meeting place for officials responsible for language policy, specialists in didactics and methodo-logy, teacher trainers, textbook authors and other multipliers in the area of modern languages.

    Language learning and teaching in the context of twin cities is pub-lished within the framework of the first medium-term programme of activities of the ECML (2000-2003).

    The ECMLs overall role is the implementation of language policies and the promotion of innovations in the field of teaching and learning modern languages. The publications are the results of research and development project teams established during workshops in Graz. The series highlights the dedication and active involvement of all those who participated in the projects and in particular of the group leaders and co-ordinators.

    1 The 33 member states of the Enlarged Partial Agreement of the ECML are: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom.

  • Language learning and teaching in the context of twin cities

    Survey of experiences and needs

    Recommendations for the promotion of languages Gilbert Dalgalian Jacqueline Feuillet-Thieberger Helena Kalve with Sverine Boulery Aspasia Nanaki Anita Vaivade

    European Centre for Modern Languages

    Council of Europe Publishing

  • French edition:

    Lapprentissage et lenseignement des langues dans le contexte des villes jumeles

    ISBN 92-871-5210-1 (July 2003)

    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic (CD-Rom, Internet, etc.) or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without the prior permission in writing from the Publishing Division, Communication and Research Directorate, Council of Europe.

    The opinions expressed in this publication are not to be regarded as reflecting the policy of any government, of the Committee of Ministers or the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

    Cover design: Gross Werbeagentur, Graz

    Translation: Austria Sprachendienst, Vienna

    Council of Europe Publishing

    F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex

    ISBN 92-871-5212-8

    Council of Europe, December 2004

    Printed at Kapfenberg

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    Table of contents

    1. Preliminary remarks 7 1.1 Scope and limitations of the survey 7 1.2 Aims and objectives of the research 9 1.3 Assumptions about the twin cities context 9

    2. Language communication between twin cities 11 2.1 Exchange intensity by target group 11 2.2 Choice of languages used 12 2.3 Modes of communication and importance of verbal communication 15 2.4 Evaluation of the exchanges 16 2.5 Wishes and prospects 18

    3. Organisation of adult language courses 21 3.1 Organisation of courses 22 3.2 Languages taught 24 3.3 Reasons why languages courses are not available or discontinued 26 3.4 Prospects 27 3.5 In conclusion 29

    4. School exchange programmes as part of twinning 31 4.1 Organisation of school exchange programmes 31 4.2 Exchange initiative 35 4.3 Languages used in school exchange programmes 36 4.4 Evaluation of school exchange programmes 38 4.5 Linguistic impact 41 4.6 In conclusion 44

    5. Conclusion 45 5.1 Evaluation of experiences and needs 45 5.2 Assumptions confirmed with reservations 48 5.3 Future strategy 51

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    6. Recommendations 53 6.1 Topicality and relevance of improved language promotion 53 6.2 Preferred procedures and methodology 54

    Appendix 1: Participating towns and cities 59

    Appendix 2: Research questionnaire to the twinning officers of cities, towns and municipalities 65

    Bibliography 73

    About the contributors 75 Reference documents only available online in French (

    1. Analyse quantitative

    2. Analyse qualitative

    3. Analyse qualitative restreinte

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    1. Preliminary remarks

    1.1 Scope and limitations of the survey The city twinning movement offers one of the best opportunities ever invented in modern times for establishing formal ties between fellow citizens. And yet the movement itself will only ever achieve its full potential if the issue of languages is given the necessary consideration.

    It is also becoming increasingly clear that knowledge of languages will be crucial to professional mobility and the ability to make full use of training. In the new European and global context, knowledge of essential English will not be enough.

    The present study forms part of the medium-term programme of activities of the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML). It is the result of research to promote further the use of the potential provided by the context of twin cities for learning languages (see description of Project 1.1.6).

    After a workshop (No. 6/2000) held in Graz from 13 to 15 July 2000, which gathered together some fifteen experts, a core research team of six members was set up around the co-ordinator of Project 1.1.6: three researchers completing their higher education, chosen and headed by two research directors from Nantes University and the Riga Academy of Culture in Latvia.

    The team carried out its activities between June 2001 and June 2003. Initially, it drew up a preliminary questionnaire, which it used to poll a small number of twin cities about the actual concept of the survey questionnaire itself, and then it finalised a definitive questionnaire (see Appendix 2), which it sent out to a large number of national associations of twin cities.

    In so far as the questionnaire was passed on to the cities and municipalities themselves, the survey (Appendix 2) was the subject of considerable interest. The answers (which admittedly varied in number from one country to the next) were analysed and used in the research.

    Does this mean the essential aspects of the defined contract namely, to conduct a survey of the experiences and needs of twin cities were fulfilled?

    To answer this question it is necessary first to have a look at what was complied with in full:

    a. The survey questionnaire after a test version and several improvements in its presentation proved that it was coherent and effective: the answers given were relatively precise, comprising figures and highly detailed qualitative remarks on the conditions, motivations, methods and evaluation of language exchanges between twin cities.

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    b. On the whole it was clear that the municipalities that took part in the survey were committed, as seen from the quality of the answers given to the questionnaire and the quality of the respondents chosen by the mayor or municipality in general, these were either twinning officers or competent deputies who could often remember the history of the twinning from its very beginning. Also many of the towns responded to the q