On MARILLE – Promoting plurilingualism in the majority language classroom

Learning a language not only provides you with the capacity to communicate with a larger range of people all over the world, but to expand the knowledge you have on cultures and lifestyles. Languages reflect the cultures, traditions, aims and spirit of every country or people who speak eat – every word, every phrase comes from a specific event and point in history or lifeabouts.  So, as more languages you learn, a wider view and understanding of life.

The MARILLE Project tries to apply this way of viewing language into the classroom. Plurilingualism in European schools is a fact: in every class we can find boys and girls from all over the continent or even the world. Each one may speak one or even two foreign languages, and all of them are forced to study a “majority language”, which is too the language of instruction used to learn the content of the rest of the subjects.

The main question that MARILLE asks itself is, if there are several languages in a class, why not use all of them to teach? This would result on more efficient students with – as we said – a wider view of how societies and cultures work, with more empathic and comprehensive way of living and acting than the students stuck in their own-culture-set schooling. It would prepare them to be able to communicate in higher levels with foreigners too, a necessary skill both for their future studies and professional world.

There are always some inconvenient: not only the educational methods and systems should be re-arranged, but the curricular values and needs too. On the other hand, the teaching skills needed by the docents that would impart these plurilingual classes would be higher – finding ourselves in the need of a new educational program for this type of teachers.

So, MARILLE proposes a brilliant and utopic teaching system which surely, basing ourselves upon the values it is built on, it would improve the capabilities and skills of students, making them even better members of a global society. Nevertheless, the requirements for this system to be carried out are very difficult to put into practice at a national, or even region level.

Practices made so far have given outstanding results. Let’s hope this way of integrating language, community and culture as a tool for content and knowledge education ends up working eventually.

More on this topic: http://marille.ecml.at/

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