Erasmus+: Advancement in Bilingualism in FE (Sharing good practice with the Basque Country)

Context/Background of Project

The participants of this project are responsible for developing the Welsh language and bilingualism within the Further Education sector in Wales (some from individual Further Education colleges and others work all over Wales). The Welsh government has funded these posts and have developed policies and strategies across a number of sectors (including education) in order to increase the number of fluent Welsh speakers in Wales. The Basque country has faced similar problems to Wales in that they have seen a significant decrease in the number of people who can speak Basque, over recent centuries, and have successfully increased the number of fluent speakers to 32% (in 2011), compared to previous years (29.5% in 2001, 27.7% in 1996 and 24.1% in 1991). The most recent census in Wales saw a decrease in the number of Welsh speakers (down from 21% in 2001 to 19% in 2011), there is an opportunity here (in terms of added value) to share practices, methods, policies, strategies and for two countries with similar linguistic backgrounds to be able to support each other to develop within the Further Education sector. These developments are essential in order to create a successful workforce in Wales that can compete in difficult economic circumstances – research has shown that individuals with Welsh language skills are more likely to gain employment and perform better at higher qualifications in Wales.

Objectives of Project

  • To raise the profile and share good practice of post-14 bilingual and Welsh medium provision in the Basque country.
  • To learn about the strategic direction set out by the Government in the Basque country in order for them to be able to increase the number of fluent speakers in the country.
  • To establish whether working in partnership (and with which organisations) is crucial to achieving a substantial increase in the number of fluent speakers (of the Basque language).
  • To understand how the Government in the Basque country monitors objectives set out in policy and strategy documents to increase the number of fluent speakers (of the Basque language).
  • To observe good practice in relation to practitioner training (Professional Graduate Certificate in Education) in Higher Education establishments, in particular, aspects of delivering post-14 provision bilingually or through the medium of a minority language.
  • To create new partnerships and understanding between Further Education establishments in Wales with Further and Higher Education establishments in the Basque country in order to develop a wider communication network.
  • To continue to improve the quality of Welsh medium and bilingual post-14 provision through the consideration of adopting practices and policies currently being implemented within educational establishments in the Basque country.
  • To share good practice in Welsh post-14 education with key individuals and establishments in the Basque country.

Number and profile of participants

Four Further Education Colleges and CollegesWales (the body that represents Colleges in Wales).

Description of activities

  • Visits with Government officials to learn about Basque language planning.
  • Visit with TKNIKA to learn about Teacher Training in terms of bilingualism.
  • Visit with a Vocation Education provider to learn about bilingual post-16 provision.
  • Share good practices from Wales.
  • Learn about effective partnership work and its impact on bilingualism and language planning.

Results and Impact

New skills and knowledge developed in minority language planning and bilingual post-16 provision and delivery. Impact upon post-16 learners all over Wales in terms of improving the quality of Welsh-medium and bilingual provision.

 Longer term

Provide a platform for rationalising the increase of Welsh-medium and bilingual post-16 provision in Wales in order to create a more skilled workforce.