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DEVELOPING PLURILINGUALISM: TEACHING MATERIALS FOR ADVANCED
STUDENTS OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHER TRAINING COLLEGES
Name of author
: ElŜbiet GAJEK
E-mail address: [email protected]
Institution and country:
Warsaw University, Institute of Applied Linguistics, Poland
Exploring attitudes towards languages and cultures
The material presents examples of activities, accompanied by guidelines on how to prepare materials
for developing plurilingual competence in learners regarding any particular teaching context and
learners needs, with the help of multilingual dictionaries online. Ideas, layouts and web site addresses
are provided, embedded in a text of particular interest to language teachers. The procedure is user-
friendly and not time consuming. By changing the source text and selecting other words of interest,
with the use of ICT, teachers can easily make up their own activities relevant to their teaching topic
both in a language class and in a CLIL class.
Fostering receptiveness to other languages and developing plurilingualism is of the utmost importance
in learning foreign languages. From an early age, children are confronted with various languages, both
in the mass media, such as TV, radio and the Internet, and in direct contacts with friends or adults
visiting their families. Many children learn two or more languages simultaneously. In such situations,
introducing various languages so as to form a cultural and linguistic background to language classes
seems appropriate. This is particularly true in the case of future teachers studying in foreign language
teacher training colleges, who are, on the one hand, advanced students of one or more languages and,
on the other, people keen to develop their teaching competence. At that phase of their personal and
vocational development, it is worthwhile to introduce a solution that is acceptable to them both as
students and teachers. Being multilingual themselves, they will probably teach multilingual children in
the future, so it seems worthwhile demonstrating to them ways to accomplish this. While creating their
own activities students may also develop media competence through the use of Information and
Communication Technologies for preparing plurilingual materials.
Personal and social dimensions
• Developing new educational approach promoting linguistic diversity
• Incorporating plurilingual awareness into English/foreign language teacher education curricula
• Implementing new ideas in language teacher education in practice
• Identifying yourself as language educator being able to intoduce new ideas in language
• Being able to prepare plurillingual teaching materials for various educational contexts such as
I would like to thank Gemma Warren for her generous permision to publish fragments of her article in
I am deeply indebted to Dr. Anna Murkowska for the first idea of preparing plurilingual activities for
teachers and then for her constant support.
Worksheet: Activity 1
Fragment of the text:Your first year
by Gemma Warren1 http://www.tes.co.uk/nqt/nqt_guide.asp 29.04.2004
Read the text, paying attention to the words in brackets. Answer the
Welcome to the most stimulating, energising fascinating (faszinieren.de
,fascinación.es, affascinare.it, fascinar.pt, fascination.fr
), frustrating, downrightinfuriating job in the world. You're right to be apprehensive, and besideyourself with excitement (entusiasmo.es, eccitamento.it, entusiasmo.pt,enthousiasme.fr
) – during your years of teaching practice (Praxis.de,práctica.es, pratica.it, prática.pt, pratique.fr
) and induction, you'll findyourself, quite literally, on an emotional and intellectual roller coaster.
Don't think for one minute that I can give you an exemplary guide to how to doit right. Some of my teaching practice mistakes (Fehler.de, errores.es, errori.it,erros.pt, erreurs.fr
) read like a cross between a Monty Python sketch and yourworst nightmare. But I am now entering my third year of teaching - whichmakes me practically an OAP.
One of the best things about teaching is the support you get from yourcolleagues (Kollegen.de, colegas.es, colleghe.it, colegas.pt, collègues.fr
). Whenyou enter a school, you really do enter a community of teachers, parents and,most importantly, children. There are horror stories, but they are the exception.
Sharing coffee, expertise (Sachkenntnis.de, maestría.es, perizia.it, perícia.pt
),anecdotes, nights out, aspirin and laughs are what teachers do best.
What similarities can you notice between the words in brackets?
What other words in your native language or other languages are the wordssimilar to?
Can you use this type of activity in your own context?
1 Gemma Warren teaches at the Latymer School, Edmonton, in North London. She is also a columnistin Friday
magazine. This is an extract from a guide she has written for new teachers.
Worksheet: Activity 2
Fragment of the text: Your first year
by Gemma Warren http://www.tes.co.uk/nqt/nqt_guide.asp 29.04.2004
Read the text. Match the words in different languages in four groups
that mean the same. Find the words in the text that they relate to.
Teaching is, quite simply, the best job in the world.
It will give you highs that no amount of caffeinecan ever achieve, and it inspires such passionate
debate nationally and internationally precisely
because it is a job that involves real people, realemotions and real experiences. Children don’t
break down or crash like computers. You can’t put
them on call-waiting, or refuse to return theirletters.
You get the opportunity to be creative and
imaginative – you never stop thinking and re-
thinking. There are some interesting ways ofteaching about eggs and sperm and it’s up to you to
discover them. You’re surfing a continuous
learning curve and you develop personally as wellas professionally. You face tests and challenges
every day, and each new lesson brings the chance
to try something new, or to re-work something thatneeds thought, or to think “what if?” Nothing can
match the sense of achievement you feel at the end
of the day. Plus, you will get the most supportive,humorous colleagues in the world. You will belong
to a true community which means being served by
your sixth-formers in Sainsbury’s, or having an
impromptu game of football with your Year 5swhen you run into them in the park, comforting
children (and often parents too) when there’s a
family crisis, or simply admiring Cynthia’s newshoes.
What makes it difficult to match the words?
Can you use this type of activity in your own context?
Worksheet: Activity 3
Make up your own activity relevant to your teaching context.
Read the guidelines. Make up your own activity step by step.
Copy it as a Microsoft Word document.
Select words to be exemplified in other languages.
Identify the selected words in one of the electronic multilingual dictionarieslisted below. Select languages relevant to your teaching context. It is worthreminding students that dictionaries, electronic ones in particular, provideonly approximate translations of a given word. Various dictionaries givewords in different grammatical forms which are confusing to the novice.
Bilingual dictionaries, however, may be used by those who know only one ofthe two languages and not merely by those who are familiar with both. Theuse of electronic dictionaries and Internet translators, in spite of their evidentlimitations, speeds up the process of the preparation of teaching materials.
The following Internet sites are recommended:
1. Copy words from the dictionary and insert them in the text as shown in the
examples. Use of international abbreviations to indicate languages facilitates theuse of English language materials with students of other native tongues. Theformat of words in other languages is up you.
2. Ask questions relevant to your teaching context.
If you prefer to keep the original typography of a text taken from a periodical,for example, columns, pictures, etc., words in other languages and questionsmay be typed on separate sheets as additional exercises.
Why did you select the text and languages?
What makes it difficult to make up a plurilingual activity?
A) Notes for teachers
Each method of introducing new words in foreign languages has its own advantages anddisadvantages.
The method applied in Activity 1
is used to introduce an unlimited number of foreign words, yet it
disrupts the reading of the English text.
The method used in Activity 2
facilitates the search for similarities between languages, and later, for
tracing the word in the text that matches the group of words in foreign languages. This encourages an
understanding of words and a search for equivalents in other languages.
As is evident from the classroom materials, the highlighted words in different languages are eithersimilar to a certain extent or decidedly different. In the first case, students are reassured that there are“true friends” among words in various languages. In the second case, the differences should makethem cautious in identifying “friends” among words in other languages. The same approach applies toidentifying similarities between languages and language families.
Regular use of teaching materials and lexical information on other languages heightens awareness of
similarities and differences in them. It certainly encourages plurilingualism and helps develop
strategies for coping with multilingual environments; it may also be helpful for students learning
several languages by creating associations between L2, L3, etc. The method of creating various
activities is provided in Activity 3
. It aims at developing the teacher’s autonomy, flexibility and
creativity in using plurilingual materials.
After each activity the group is asked the following evaluation questions:
- To what extent do you think the choice of the materials and the way of doing the activity are
helpful in introducing plurilingual awareness?
How does the choice of languages influence on the plurilingual awareness and results of theactivity?
What do you think about the interrelation between the existence of the World Wide Weband the need for developing plurilingualism?
B) Answer sheets
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