Considering the linguistic and cultural reality of a widened Europe (EU 28), multilingual education already at a pre-school age proves to be clearly necessary. More than 50% of Europeans are either bilingual or live in an environment where they are confronted with 2 or more languages, especially people living in border regions, migrants and people whose parents speak a language other than the national language. Language acquisition and language enhancement gets more and more important for an intercultural dialogue in our society and for increasing job chances of individuals.
There is, however, another aspect besides this multilingual face of Europe. Children with a migration and ethnic background often have problems in both their first and second languages. Educators in pre-school, and subsequently in school, often have difficulties providing the necessary educational assistance. They argue that, in order to provide these children with the best possible conditions for learning in school, the curriculum should include supportive material and that the fostering of language achuisition should start at the earliest possible age. Otherwise these children will start their school careers from a disadvantaged position and these unfavourable conditions will accompany them during their entire school life.
The majority of European schools have a great potential for language diversity and therefore it is necessary to enhance this plurality and to promote bilingualism at a very early age.
Open Education Resources (OER) have been defined by UNESCO (2002), as "teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution". The last 10 years have seen the exponential diffusion of web based OER. Thanks to the internet is possible to access ubiquitously, 24/24, a large array OER that can be used for bilingual education of children. These are training materials expressly developed for bilingual education based on e-books, videos, Apps and other specific software. Additionally, the web allows free access to written texts, videos, cartoons and TV and radio programs in many different languages developed for native children that can be used directly for L2 learning. From and educational point of view, the Internet has widened the possibilities for not formal and informal learning and for individualized learning strategies, as well as for self-directed learning.
The European Commission Communication Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes (2012) stresses the necessity to foster early language learning, to tap into the potential of ICT and Open Educational Resources for learning, to scale-up use of ICT in learning and teaching.
According to these priorities, this project will develop a methodology and tools helping educators and parents to use web based OER for bilingual education in preschool. More in detail, POLY will develop
• two reports, one on the State of the art on bi- and multilingual education in kindergartens and the other one on web based OER (including free or very cheap Apps) for bilingual education
• a set of Guidelines on the use of web based OER for bi-lingual education in kindergartens, and, based on this,
• two Guides and a two E-courses addressed respectively to educators and parents.
The methodology and tools will be piloted at EU level with over 500 amongst educators, parents and children and then finalized.