Very often we hear the same statements: on one hand the world is changing very fast, and on the other hand the school is suffering from a lack of investment. At least that is the situation in the Italian state school.
In this context, primary school teachers in Italy are involved in a project, that offers them the opportunity of learning English: the Italian education ministery has invested in a learning programme that is developed over three years in which teachers attend a course with traditional classes and learning modules on line. Some teachers complain that it doesn't represent the most effective way of learning a language, but I think it is a good opportunuty and it does represent a start.
Even though I have met many colleagues who are doing a really good job to learn and keep up their English,
I realise that this is a heavy burden on top of their everyday workload (it is a time of budget cuts and limited resourcing which has transformed our schools and ways of teaching over the last five years).
Considering all this I feel like reflecting on a few ideas:
Teachers have a very important and delicate task: they are there to help their students to face the world. It is a long process; a learning journey along many pathways, that give pupils the right instruments to interpret the natural and social environment - skills that represent the first steps to have the chance of acting on the world stage.
It is true, nevertheless, that teachers do not have to know everything (we can't afford all the human knowledge!), but they do need some basic skills for reading and interpreting reality and the ability to select relevant information from the rest.
I think that in the key competences of teachers, there must be space for the European language, if they want to help their students to become conscientious European citizens.
I agree that considering a B1 level of English for teaching in the primary school is probably not enough, but it is a start, and the possibility should be offered to all teachers.
There are colleagues that might never teach English in their career, but they may still need a media to communicate, in order to share ideas and experiences with other teachers around the world.
Nevertheless, even if you completely agree with all I have said so far, there is still another problem: how can you possibly learn a language when you have to deal with everyday life and work, and the very short time left? That is the point. It is a big challenge which I want to take up on this blog!
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