Aspects of Modern Language Teaching in Europe

By Wolf Gewehr; Georgia Catsimali et al. | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

General remarks

The importance of languages for effective communication between peoples has been accorded increased recognition recently in view of the changes currently taking place within the European Union (EU). As national boundaries vanish, language barriers are slowly disappearing as European citizens are being encouraged to acquire bilingual (or trilingual) competence. Governments are giving higher priority than ever before to languages in the school curriculum. Nevertheless, few would dispute that the teaching and learning of second (and third) languages is capable of improvement. In view of the increased facility for gaining employment in an EU country, the time is ripe to prepare teachers of a given language to teach that language successfully in the context of any EU country. However, this can only come about when foreign language (FL) teachers from different countries have the opportunity to exchange ideas and share classroom experiences.

As foreign language teachers in a European context, we not only teach students to communicate; we also help them to find the key which will enable them to enter the cultural world of the foreign language they are in the process of learning. It is interesting to emphasize, however, that this new world, always within a European context, has both similarities with and differences from the one students are already familiar with through their mother tongue. In a sense, this is also true with regard to language teaching methodology. Although each of us FL teachers operates in a specific context, we also share a great deal because those contexts are similar in that they are pan-European.

Traditionally, developments in FL methodology have originated under the auspices of the teaching of English as a foreign/second language, but we have found that interesting experiences have also taken place in relation to the teaching of other languages. Through this cross-fertilization of ideas and experience of both theoreticians and practitioners, much can be learned.

This book is based on the results of The German, Greek, English, Spanish Teacher-Training Project, a LINGUA project in which FL teachers from four

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