CRAMLAP Celtic, Regional, and Minority Languages Abroad Project

Celtic, Regional, and
Minority Languages
Abroad Project
Eugene McKendry
Queen’s University Belfast
Nua Eabhrac
Bealtaine 2009
Setting the Scene
• European Commission adopted an Action Plan
Promoting Language Learning and Linguistic
Diversity for the period 2004-2006
• The three key areas for action outlined in the
plan were:
– Extending the benefits of life-long language learning
to all citizens
– Improving language learning
– Creating a more language-friendly environment.
• The Commission invited proposals for two-year long
• Seven Europe-wide projects promoting language
learning and linguistic diversity were successful
• One of the successful proposals was CRAMLAP, Celtic,
Regional, and Minority Languages Abroad Project
• Aim – to research the transnational provision of Regional
and Minority Languages (RMLs) abroad in Higher
• RMLs in this project are those which are not the national
language of another country (with the exception of Irish)
• Queen’s University Belfast
Eugene McKendry
(Project Coordinator)
Steve Walsh
• Mannheim University
George Broderick
Martina Müller
• National University of Ireland
Ruairí Ó hUiginn
Anne Gallagher
• Université de Haute Bretagne, Rennes Gwendal Denis
• Oslo University
Jan Erik Rekdal
• Uppsala University
Mícheál Ó Flaithearta
Objectives (1)
• To conduct an audit of transnational higher
education provision for RMLs in Europe
• To establish a transnational network to
work in collaboration on teaching and
learning RML languages
• To provide an innovative approach to the
delivery of the subject
• To produce papers on language teaching
and learning
Objectives (2)
• To develop collaboration for delivery of the
subject on a wider scale
• To research ways to disseminate information
from the higher education environment to other
domains, for example, providing information and
support on minority and regional languages for
policy makers as well as in pre-university and
lifelong education
• To incorporate the particular global experience
of Teaching English as a Second or Other
Language (TESOL) into good practice in
teaching RMLs in Higher Education
Project Meetings
• The activities undertaken to achieve these
objectives included regular transnational
meetings of the project partners
• Common and particular tasks were assigned to
partners and monitored regularly via the website
partners’ area, e-mail and at the meetings
• These meetings provided the main opportunities
to share, discuss and develop pedagogical and
didactic approaches and to ensure an effective
progression of the project
• Information and Communication Technology (ICT) was
used to maintain contact during the project through email and the project website and forum
• The CRAMLAP website ( is an
important element of the project
• On the website a private “CRAMLAP Partners” area can
be found as well as several public sections
• The website will be used on an ongoing basis to
disseminate information about provision of Higher
Education CRML courses internationally and to
exemplify, demonstrate, and disseminate information on
potential and good practice for language teaching
Approaches to Celtic in HE
• Three General Approaches
– Philological/ Linguistic
– Communicative
– Cultural
Methodology - Celtic
• Surveyed European HE institutions
offering Celtic Languages
– Questionnaire One dealt with Language
provision, staff levels, and research interests.
On the whole this is empirical and quantitative
data which is now available on the website
– Questionnaire Two dealt more with
methodology. It sought information on
approaches to teaching and learning. The
data is more personal and was analysed by
the project partners and presented as a paper12
Methodology – Other Regional &
Minority Languages
• Surveyed European HE institutions offering
RMLs (multi-lingual forms)
• Considerable debate about which languages
should be investigated. Final decisions based
on a number of sources
• One questionnaire as, unlike Celtic, the earlier
forms and the philological approach were not
considered relevant. The questionnaire was
divided into two sections similar to the separate
Celtic questionnaires
Results of Surveys (1)
A comparison of the data from both surveys
corroborates the results from each. Common points
of note are:
– Small numbers of students for many languages
– Mostly taught by individuals, rather than departmental
– Teachers are academic subject specialists, with an
academic research background, or Post-graduate
tutors often on short-term foreign lector contracts (1-2
– Limited teacher training
– Inadequate or inappropriate textbooks and resources;
however, the range of resources is considered to be
Results of Surveys (2)
– Varied class contact times
– Limited uptake of European Union schemes
– Languages supported by finance or exchange
programs, such as Catalan or Irish, are most
commonly offered
– RML courses are most frequently available as a minor
element of a degree course
– Doctoral courses are available in many institutions
– Cognate languages are important in encouraging
uptake: Catalan in Spanish departments, Welsh in
Brittany etc.
See website for further details of surveys
Methodology – Approaches to
Language Teaching and Learning
– Papers on Theory and Practice were
– A reflective practice approach was
promoted. Issues of general pedagogy and
good practice in Higher Education teaching
were discussed, leading to implementation
through exemplars
– Active Learning was promoted through
exemplars of Task Based Language Learning
Methodology - Website
• Professional looking website used to
display all data collected
• All papers accessible via website
Project Outcomes
List of European HE Institutions
offering Celtic
• Surveys sent to all relevant HE institutions
• Online form or paper form
• Online data automatically added to
• Tables of provision created and displayed
on web
• Updated when necessary
Online List of European HE
Institutions offering Celtic
Survey Data
List of European HE Institutions
offering other Regional and Minority
• Surveyed European HE institutions offering
regional and Minority Languages
• Our own list – unlikely we have captured all
• Tables of Institutions contacted and our estimate
of their provision displayed on web
• Needs to be verified by Institutions
List of European HE Institutions
offering other Regional and
Minority Languages
Survey Data
• Papers on Policy and Practice in Teaching
and Learning Languages in Higher
• Papers on Theory and Research in
Language Teaching and Learning
Papers – Available on the Web
• The exemplars provide a set of recipes for
language teaching. Those recipes are based on
sound principles of teaching and learning. They
are designed for teachers to adapt to suit their
local contexts
• They can be used with a variety of learners and
contexts – beginners, intermediate, advanced
learners at third-level, second-level; in small
groups or one-to-one tuition – and they cover
the four language skills (reading, writing,
listening, and speaking), as well as the systems
(grammar, lexis and phonology)
• The tasks are student-centred and provide for a high
degree of student autonomy
• Include a certain amount of cognitive challenge designed
to increase motivation and stimulate thinking
• Most tasks involve a degree of problem-solving
• Manipulation of the target language is considered central
to acquisition
• Some tasks allow skills integration so that reading,
writing, listening and speaking are practised through the
use of tasks which naturally involve their use
• The essential theoretical characteristics of the approach
are based on a socio-cultural tradition which stresses the
need for dialogue, for negotiation, for interaction with
others and for collaborative meaning-making
Approaches to Assessment
• An overview of current approaches to
assessment was discussed and can be found on
the website
• Particular attention was paid to the Common
European Framework of Reference, and two
diploma syllabi for adult learners of Irish
produced by a CRAMLAP partner were
presented to partners ( these now marketed by
NUI Maynooth as Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge)
• They were translated into English and posted on
the website for wider dissemination and as
possible models for other languages
Additional Documents
Testing Language Skills and the Common European Framework of Reference for
Languages (extract)
The requirements and expectations of Higher Education students
should be considered, particularly those following courses where the
linguistic and grammatical aspects are emphasised. In such
circumstances, the skill of reading is likely to prove as equally
motivating as speaking.
Grammar should be taught as required in communication. However,
since the context is Higher Education, students are likely to expect
and prefer clear structural guidance and understanding, and so the
role of grammar must be considered carefully. While some versions of
Communicative Language Teaching have underplayed the role of
grammar, this approach is unlikely to be successful in university, and
this is reflected in the responses from CRAMLAP’s Celtic Studies
questionnaires. An eclectic approach to language teaching,
combining communication and structure, is more likely to prove
successful than a simple exposure to transactional scenarios.
While the CEFR has less focus on mechanical grammar practice,
The Framework cannot replace reference grammars or provide a
strict ordering (though scaling may involve selection and hence
some ordering in global terms) but provides a framework for the
decisions of practitioners to be made known. (CEFR 2001: 152)
The particular grammatical and idiomatic individuality of the language
must be incorporated. So, in the Celtic languages, the pedagogy will
recognise the importance for students to be able to manipulate
prepositional structures and idioms such as “Tá X orm - I am X”; “Y
mae X gen i – I have X”. Similarly, the mutation system, so
characteristic of Celtic languages, must be explained and practised,
orally and in writing. Apparently simple functions and notions such as
asking where one lives and how many are in one’s family involve
particular idiomatic and structural knowledge in Irish which must be
factored into teaching and learning.
• The website is the tool we use to display and
disseminate all the other outcomes
• Important it looked professional but content is
even more important
• Important that the information about Celtic and
other Regional and Minority Languages in HE in
Europe is correct, [up-to-date and relevant]
• Site is being regularly accessed
• Queen’s has agreed to maintain the site
• [However, we need input from HE institutions to
keep it correct and relevant]
• [Will be contacting all listed HE institutions to
promote the site and ask them to verify their
• Dissemination of the project and its
outcomes has been a core aim
• Methods
– Presentations at relevant conferences
– Academic Papers
– Leaflet
– Letter & leaflets sent to all HE Institutions
listed as providing either Celtic or other RMLs
– Registered with relevant databases/search
– Presentations to EU
Exit Strategy
• Dissemination will continue
• Maintenance of the lists of institutions offering
courses, and any further exemplars and
discussion papers, will continue beyond the end
of the project period
• The website will be maintained by Queen’s
University Belfast Information Services
• A researcher will hopefully be employed by
NICILT and the School of Education for a period
annually to research and update the lists
Follow Up?
Survey of Fulbright and
other institutions in USA
Contact Details
• The main contact for the project is:
Dr Eugene McKendry
(Director, NICILT)
School of Education
Queen’s University Belfast
69-71 University Street
Belfast BT7 1HL
Northern Ireland
United Kingdom
[email protected]
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