Language centers

Language centers

Children and young people from families with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds or with migration biographies are part of the educational system in South Tyrol.

This opens new perspectives in terms of diversity and language education, but also poses great challenges for educational institutions. It is therefore necessary to provide kindergartens and schools with the necessary support to ensure equal educational opportunities for all children and young people.
The language centers, established in 2007, initially supported kindergartens and schools both through human resources and counselling. This support had a first-aid character in many cases, a circumstance that now doesn’t meet the social development of the last years.
Through the recruitment of language support teachers (in the Italian system known as A023/bis- German Second Language and A023/ter – Italian Second Language) in the schools, these teachers are now a part of the school's educational staff. This fundamental change in the area of supporting children and young people with migration biographies opens new fields of intervention:
Language centres work across the language groups in South Tyrol and in close contact with the education directorates and are decentralized to the Pedagogical Counselling Centres in the districts for the German- speaking system.
They promote language and cultural awareness teaching, networking organize teachers’ training and provide intercultural mediation. In the field of counselling, the aim is to support kindergartens and schools in developing sustainable concepts for dealing with an increasingly diverse society.

Language education, the promotion of multilingualism, the acquisition of cultural references, literacy and the strengthening of life skills in diverse contexts are key to educational success. Communication and participation in social life, goals of integration and inclusion, are closely linked to language and cultural competence. It is therefore part of the school's educational mission to support the linguistic development of all pupils.

Efficient language support is designed to be "continuous", vertically, linking the levels of education, and horizontally, linking subjects, learning areas and school activities. In this context, the inclusion of multilingual environments where kids live and cooperation with their families are very important. Target language support measures at all levels of education in all subjects, “sheltered” subject teaching has to be provided. Representatives of the different levels of instruction communicate and cooperate with each other and follow a common curriculum. The observation of the learning process provides good guidance.

The promotion of language is always understood as the promotion of plurilingualism. Children and young people bring with them language skills that are used and considered in the language process. Intercomprehension and translanguaging approaches must necessarily be mentioned here.

Multilingualism should also be seen in the context of pluriculturalism. Language is an important component of a culture, an expression of that culture and at the same time a means of accessing its expressions. In this respect promoting plurilingualism means promoting intercultural competences and diversity awareness education. Acting and interacting in more than one language often go hand in hand with addressing different cultural aspects and at the same time expanding, making thinking and acting more flexible, and differentiating them. This will contribute to the shaping and strengthening of linguistic and cultural identity.

(Cfr. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. 2001

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. 2020)

 

Diversity is one of the keywords of recent years: in nature, society, business or education. In the past there was a distinction between the inclusion of people with and without disabilities and the integration of people with different linguistic and/or cultural backgrounds, today diversity exists in all aspects that distinguish one person from the other, whether they be social, cognitive, linguistic, ethnic, cultural or personal.

In this respect, the word culture is even broader than commonly understood and goes far beyond the sum of the cultural heritage of art, literature, tradition or religion. Culture in this broad sense determines our thinking and actions. It is a differentiated system of basic assumptions, values, rituals, norms, personal and structural elements and goes beyond national, ethnic and regional standards.

The competence to act in aware diversity and cross-cultural way is clear in all interpersonal relationships. There are cultural differences between different generations and genders, between social and professional groups, between religious and political groups, as well as between people from different families or countries or people with different talents and skills. The ability to act with diversity awareness is one of the basic social competences in an increasingly social and working diverse world.

You act with awareness of diversity if

  • you perceive and reflect on differences and similarities, address them and enter into a dialogue with them

  • you are open and curious to meet people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, with different skills and ideas, and consciously and responsibly participate in shaping these encounters

  • you recognize clichés and stereotypes, question them, deal with them responsibly and reacts to them (moral courage),

  • you are able to change perspective and see actions and ways of thinking differently

  • you perceive, reflect and transform positive (fascination, admiration) or negative (irritation, insecurity, fear) feelings into constructive ways of acting

  • you perceive one's own values and those of others, deal with misunderstandings and conflicts and develop tolerance for ambiguity without falling into arbitrariness and mistaken "politically correctness".

 

Language Support Teacher for pupils with migrant background (A023bis-A023ter) - Professional Profile

Role and tasks

The teaching staff of language support teachers (A23-bis and ter) have the same social and personal pedagogical skills of class teachers. Their specific skills are indicated as follows:

  • competence in the fields of linguistics and language teaching

  • competence in detecting the linguistic needs of pupils with migrant

background and planning the necessary linguistic support actions;

  • methodological-didactical competence on

  • learning a Second Language (SLA)

  • acquisition of academic language (CALP)

  • language-sensitive didactics

  • plurilingual teaching and learning

  • intercultural competences.

Their action at school and for the Language Centre network involves following areas:

  • structured teaching of the language(s) of schooling (from newcomers to advanced learners)

  • learning support in both the language of schooling and academic language

  • co-teaching in language-sensitive subject lessons

  • advising on issues related to language stimulation and language-sensitive subject teaching.

The A23 bis and -ter (language support) teachers are part of the teaching staff at the assigned school, as well as part of the class councils of the pupils they support.

According to current provincial legislation, they do not have the right to vote at the assignment of the term’s marks.

The Teachers Board decides how to take into account the evaluation about the educational development of the pupils.

The Three-Year School Educational Plan also specifies the duties and tasks of the language support teachers within the school.

These teachers will continue to refer for their professional development to the advisor of the district Language Center.

Intercultural mediators (IKM_MIC) act as bridges between people from different cultures and different languages, provide an orientation service and support the process of mutual rapprochement.

Intercultural mediators

  • usually come from the same cultural area as the family/pupil they support and speak their language;

  • are familiar with South Tyrolean culture and speak the language of the school attended by the pupil;

  • are familiar with the laws and directives of the educational systems of the pupil's country of origin and of South Tyrol;

  • had specific training for intercultural mediation.

Areas of competence

Intercultural mediators and pupils with a migration background

Support children and young people together with their families in the first orientation on the local education system.
Advise on culture, religion, traditions, languages, school system, etc.
Translate communications and important information orally

Intercultural mediators and teaching staff

Facilitate communication with children, young people and their families
Support the teaching staff in reconstructing the educational path
Provide information about the culture and education system of the home country
Participate in intercultural projects at school.

Intercultural mediators, native pupils and their families

Support classes/groups in planning and implementing intercultural projects
Promote intercultural exchange between pupils and their families

The intercultural mediators work/take part in agreement with the Class Council. The objectives of their activities are provided in writing and are subject to evaluation.

Intercultural mediation path (IT)

Intercultural mediation path (DE)