Language Teaching Seminar in Malta
On 5th September a language teaching seminar was organised in Malta under the aegis of the European Centre for Modern Languages. The seminar focused on the theme of ‘Enhancing Language Teaching Materials and Pedagogy’. It served as an opportunity to create synergy amongst some of the main stakeholders in the field of language teaching in Malta. The seminar provided language teachers, teacher educators, policy-makers, researchers and other multipliers with an opportunity to discuss some of the current issues in relation to language teaching and learning. By means of the contributions of language teaching experts working on a number of projects for the ECML, this seminar enabled participants to develop an understanding of some of the most innovative approaches to language pedagogy and materials design.
The event was organised by the Language Associations and Collaborative Support project within the ECML. In his welcome address, Mr Daniel Xerri expressed the hope that “this seminar will act as a springboard for the creation of a forum for language teaching professionals in Malta that would be cross linguistic in scope and purpose. Such a forum would allow the main stakeholders involved in language teaching to come together on a regular basis to discuss issues that concern their practice as well as provide feedback on policy.” Prof Grace Grima, Director General for Quality and Standards in Education, claimed that “the seminar is an important initiative for strengthening the learning of languages in Malta.” Mr Waldemar Martyniuk, Executive Director of the ECML, said that the seminar would contribute to the efforts of his institution in developing and promoting innovative approaches and tools, disseminating best practices, training multipliers, and developing professional networks.
The seminar opened with a plenary by Dr Terry Lamb from the University of Sheffield. Dr Lamb is a world-renowned researcher in the field of learner and teacher autonomy in language learning. He is also the president of the International Federation of Language Teacher Associations. The seminar included a workshop by Dr Petra Daryai-Hansen on the teaching materials and training kit developed within the FREPA project. FREPA aims to establish links between languages and language varieties that learners bring from home or are learning in schools. This was followed by a workshop on the More DOTS project by Dr Regine Hampel and Ms Martina Emke. Their project aims to provide integrated pedagogical and technological resources to language teaching practitioners. In this workshop, participants were shown best practice examples of how language pedagogy and online technologies are linked. Dr Odette Vassallo and Mr Daniel Xerri gave a talk on how language teachers could enhance their practice by means of action research while Dr Phyllisienne Gauci discussed the importance of developing pragmatic competence in the foreign language classroom. A the end of the seminar Mr Raymond Facciol, an ECML Governing Board member, chaired a debate focusing on the ECML’s function as a catalyst for reform in the teaching and learning of languages.