The SSHRC-funded project Advancing Agency in Language Education examines language teacher beliefs and situated language education practices in relation to plurilingual, action-oriented, and technology-mediated approaches across three Canadian provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Alberta). It is being led by Dr. Enrica Piccardo (OISE, University of Toronto) in collaboration with Drs. Geoff Lawrence (York University), Aline Germain-Rutherford (University of Ottawa), and Angelica Galante (McGill University). There are also collaborators and graduate students supporting this project.
The project “Supporting online language learning: Fostering pedagogical innovation in a time of crisis” is a SSHRC-funded Partnership Engage Grant between OISE (Dr. Enrica Piccardo) and the Ufficio Scolastico Regionale per la Lombardia / Lombardy Educational Authority (Gisella Langé). The project has explored 1) the online classroom experiences of language teachers, 2) how teachers responded to the forced move online, and 3) opportunities for effective innovation in online language education. In its final stages, the project findings are currently being curated into an edited book of teacher case studies: Piccardo, E. (In press). Classe plurilingue e approccio orientato all’azione. Guerra edizioni.
“Promuovere l’innovazione pedagogica plurilingue attraverso l’apprendimento online e in presenza” (Promoting plurilingual pedagogical innovation through online and in-person learning) builds on a Partnership Engage Grant between OISE (Enrica Piccardo) and the Ufficio Scolastico Regionale per la Lombardia / Lombardy Educational Authority (Gisella Langé). In this project, action-oriented and plurilingual tools and resources were implemented by language teachers in three regions of Italy: Campania, Lazio, and Lombardy. This project received funding from the Italian Ministry of Education and has involved 25 team leaders and over 200 tri-regional participants.
Welcoming students who have not mastered the school language can pose challenges such as the inaccurate assessment of their true academic potential which can lead to diminished academic opportunities for them at school, and ultimately negative educational outcomes. In fact, in Canada and France as well as numerous other countries that have experienced an influx of newcomers, the dropout rate among language learners is high and newcomers are underrepresented in STEM pathways in education. Generally, teachers feel unprepared to cope with these high levels of linguistic diversity and the declining interest in sciences in the middle grades along with the reduced STEM practice opportunities outside of school hours. These circumstances have created an urgent need to improve our ability to provide appropriate support for the increased academic success of language learners in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Against this backdrop, computer-based tools have recently gained traction as promising strategies to assist teachers in fostering collaboration, problem-solving and procedural thinking among their diverse students, improving higher-order thinking of learners and increasing student engagement overall. Multilingual versions of digital tools are of particular interest as they remove the language barrier, thereby providing an unobstructed view of the skills of linguistically diverse students. However, the effectiveness of such tools has yet to be researched. Continue reading here.
Poor academic achievement among language learners continues to be the focus of international debate, particularly in countries with a high influx of newcomer and refugee students, such as Canada. Among the proposed causes, not mastering the school language is a key factor. Language learners need at least five years to catch up with their native-speaking peers in school. During this time, language learners invest a substantial proportion of their efforts in learning the school language, while struggling with the academic language demands of content subjects. As a result, some fall behind academically. In addition, results of various studies show a clear decline in the interest of the general school population in STEM in the middle grades and a reduction in the opportunities to practice outside school hours. Continue reading here.
The closure of schools across Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant gaps in educational provision for both ‘mainstream’ and ‘vulnerable’ school populations. Additionally, teachers across grades K-12 have struggled to find learning resources that connect with the curricula they are mandated to teach. When students fall behind, they develop a learning gap, a lack of knowledge and understanding of curriculum content, relative to their peers. Learning gaps are relatively common and invariably require, at some point, a strategy to help the student catch up. A rather unique consequence of the Covid19 pandemic is that it has likely caused in a single timeframe, a learning gap in relation to curriculum expectations in a substantial proportion of the student population. We propose to exploit this opportunity to examine the feasibility and efficiency of implementing an innovative online tool that addresses the common challenge of the learning gap in education. We will investigate how this innovative online platform may support the accelerated catch-up phase of students with a learning gap as well as reinforce the digital skills of teachers. Continue reading here.
To achieve the goal of significantly eradicating the global practice of punishing children for speaking their mother tongue by 2030 and to provide language friendly learning environments for all children, the Language Friendly School initiative requires a broad base of partners and supporters. The Language Friendly School is an initiative of the Rutu Foundation for Intercultural Multilingual Education, a non-profit organization based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Find out more here.