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Speaking for Yourself - an Erasmus+ grundtvig project for the empowerment of adult language learners
Start date: Sep 1, 2014, End date: Aug 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

A) Context and Objectives Adult language learning faces a number of challenges: 1. Learning a language requires a lot of practice and the classroom time available is scarce. 2. Students have a highly heterogeneous profile (variety in competence, objectives, learning style) and currently this is only accounted for to a certain degree. This is especially problematic for weaker students who risk to drop out. 3. The majority of students have family/work responsibilities, so their motivation is vital to continue learning. 4. Students do not know how to learn autonomously, which is especially true for speaking . This project considers empowerment of the language student the best way to tackle the challenges above. However, that is a difficult task requiring (new) expertise from the language teachers. They need to: - navigate the student (diagnosis, feedback and learning objectives) - consult the student on learning methods and (ICT) tools - monitor and motivate the student by coaching to take charge of his/her own learning We also believe the best way to achieve these competences in a sustained way, is - to empower teachers in their professionalization, by introducing them to the method of action research - to create and disseminate a toolbox for student empowerment in speaking B) Participants 1. E.O.I. Roquetas de Mar (Spain): public adult education centre specialised in foreign languages. 2. PCVO Het Perspectief (Belgium): one of the largest centres for formal adult in Flanders. 3. Encora Talen Antwerp (Belgium): Municipal Centre for Adult Education in Foreign Languages. 4. Järfälla Lärcentrum (Sweden): adult education provider for immigrants and adult education on a secondary and upper secondary level. 5. Farskolinn (Iceland): center for lifelong learning. 6. E.O.I. Girona (Spain): public centre dedicated to the teaching of languages to adults. 7. In Dialogue (Holland): consultancy agency focused on the development of leadership competences and coaching. C) Activities and methodology Our project will combine literature study, teacher training and action research on (i) testing, feedback and evaluation for speaking and (ii) coaching and monitoring of student autonomy. Action research is chosen as an efficient method to empower teachers and give them the responsibility of their professional development. - Literature study on diagnostic testing, feedback and evaluation for speaking. - 1st meeting: suggestions for efficient diagnostic testing and feedback; questionnaire. - Implementation of questionnaire on current state of affairs - 2nd meeting: presentation of questionnaire results; training of teachers through intervision. - 3d meeting: training of teachers in action research. - Action research 1: diagnosis, feedback and defining objectives. - 4th meeting: results of action research 1; study of methods and techniques; creation of a list of techniques and tools with indication of applicability. - 5th meeting: training in gradation of learner autonomy and approaches to motivation and coaching in language learning and teaching. - Action research 2: coaching and monitoring of student autonomy. - 6th meeting: discussion of results of action research 2. - Finalisation of the project website. - Creation of the digital toolbox for student empowerment in speaking. - Dissemination of results. D) Results and impact 1) Literature review on: - diagnostic testing and evaluation - feedback and definition of learning objectives - action research in the language classroom - coaching applied to empowerment of adult language learners 2) A survey of methods, techniques and (ICT) tools - to evaluate speaking - to practise speaking autonomously - to give feedback and monitor/coach the autonomous student 3) Reports of the action researches on: - diagnosis + methods and techniques + initial coaching - student empowerment and monitoring + coaching of autonomous language learning These material results will be made available on the project website as a digital toolbox for student empowerment in speaking. 4) Professional development of participating teachers in the fields of - diagnostic testing and evaluation - feedback and the definition of objectives - coaching and empowerment of adult language learners - action research as a method for continuous professional development E) Longer term benefits The major impact of the project on the participating institutions will be professionalisation, innovation and improvement of skills and competences in teaching. The digital toolbox will be disseminated via a plan which will target language institutes, individual language teachers and teacher training centres. All partners will spread the resulting quality improvement by stimulating the trained teachers to share the newly acquired skills through intervisions. The institutions will incorporate the acquired knowledge to their curriculum, and develop teacher training courses in their regions.
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