#Languages Pathways @ TU Dublin : a Collaborative Project promoting Language Learning at TU Dublin

Published: 29 Nov, 2022

We are delighted to share that our collaborative project, #Languages Pathways, has won the prestigious 2022 European Language Label (ELL) Award.

The 2022 European and national thematic priorities for the European Language Label in Ireland are: 

  • Enhance language learning through Information and Communication Technology and digital media 
  • Language learning and promotion of equity, social cohesion, and active citizenship 
  • Professional development of language teachers 
  • Supporting the teaching and learning of Irish. 

The #Languages Pathways project is a bespoke set of open educational resources created by a cross-campus collaborative team of language lecturers:

  • Dr Susanna Nocchi (Lead Project Co-ordinator)
  • Odette Gabaudan
  • Nathalie Cazaux 
  • Dr Riana Walsh 

The project received funding in 2020/21 and 2021/22 from Post-Primary Languages Ireland (PPLI) for raising awareness and promoting courses with a Foreign Language component. PPLI is the dedicated unit providing expertise and support for foreign languages education in Ireland and has responsibility for implementing key actions in Languages Connect – Ireland's Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026. https://ppli.ie/about-us/ This project contributes towards 'Languages Connect', Ireland's strategy for foreign languages in education and awareness-raising campaign, which aims to emphasise the pivotal role of plurilingualism and multiculturalism in the educational experience for successful European citizenship.

#Languages Pathways targets learners of Spanish, German, French, and Italian, the four main languages taught in Irish secondary schools. The project aims to develop language teaching and learning by providing a dynamic centre for exchanges, curating interactive resources, and creating a bridge between Irish secondary schools and Higher Education. It is designed with a community-of-practice approach to ensure its lifespan beyond the duration of its current funding.

The #LanguagesPathways portal https://languagespathways.ie/ showcases opportunities and ideas to experience language learning and provides information to secondary schools' pupils, teachers, career officers, and parents nationwide on studying Languages in the 

Technological University Dublin. Learners are introduced to the TU Dublin language experience, immersed in language-related activities using the various languages taught in the University, and have an opportunity to appreciate the many fun ways languages can be learned. They can also interact with diverse cultural aspects of these languages, exchange views and showcase their work on the platform, as an important aspect of this project is also to develop participants' digital literacy.

The project started in 2020 and consists of two phases.

During Phase One 2020 - 2021, the #LanguagesPathways Team designed and developed the languages platform featuring open and available resources for four languages and information on the best ways to learn languages. Our initial competition in January 2021, entitled "A new language is a new life", invited all language fans to showcase their enthusiasm for languages by creating a digital artefact (a video, a PowerPoint presentation, a slide show, a recording, a film). The ensuing online awards event coincided with the launch of the #LanguagesPathways Hub, a dedicated virtual space for language learning, hosted by the Mozilla Hubs platform.

Phase One concluded with a further competition in early 2022 entitled "Technology enhances my language learning experience". Participants were invited to describe their interaction with the use of technology in language learning. Both competitions encouraged learners to reflect on the value and role of languages in their life and invited individual creativity and group collaboration when designing their digital artefact. In our two years of existence, we have focused on learning by doing to motivate learners, encourage digital creation and validate language skills newly acquired.

This focus on technology for language learning kick-started Phase Two of the #LanguagesPathways project, which is ongoing and provides access to a desktop-based virtual reality (VR) environment, the #LanguagesPathways Hub. The Hub allows Language Explorers the possibility to immerse themselves in a fun space, dedicated to languages and language learning. With the help of two web designers, this VR environment is being redesigned and expanded to showcase better the four languages featured on the #LanguagesPathways platform and will soon offer more dedicated language tasks and games. In addition, by the end of 2022, we hope to provide language-specific Hubs with 3 or 4' breakout rooms' each, with different themes and language tasks: #LanguagesPathways Mozilla hub space (#LanguagesPathways Hub).

It is envisaged that teachers will have the opportunity to take an introductory course to the environment and its possibilities for language learning, be a part of a community of practice and create their language tasks as well as improve their digital skills and integrate them into the curriculum.  In addition, students in secondary schools will benefit from experiencing language learning in an immersive platform and be exposed to third-level language learning innovations.

At TU Dublin, we aim to foster graduates who are interested, digitally savvy, socially responsible, and open-minded global thinkers, with plurilingualism and multiculturalism as a pivotal axis in their educational experience. The University offers applied languages across all of our campuses and various subjects under diverse degrees. The aim of the #Languages Pathways project is threefold.

Firstly, to immerse teachers, career advisors, and prospective and current students in the TU Dublin language experience by showcasing the languages taught in the University and the many fun ways you can learn about different cultures and languages, hence creating a tangible bridge between the two phases in the academic journey of Irish students/citizens. Secondly, the project creates a repository of resources open to all interested in developing and sharing language learning journeys. Finally, as practitioners, we want to experience, explore and create new technologies which can enhance language learning, with a strong focus on Virtual Reality in language learning.

Léargas (the National Agency for Erasmus+ in Adult Education, School Education, Vocational Education and Training, and Youth) has invited the project team to attend the European Language Label award ceremony on 10th November in Croke Park, Dublin. This celebratory evening event is entitled 'The Gathering' Dublin and, as a cross-sectoral event, will include a Human Library (opportunities for one-to-one conversations), the awards ceremony for the ELL, eTwinning and Innovation, and spotlight presentations relevant to all sectors. The Gathering will also mark 35 years of Erasmus. https://www.leargas.ie/languages/languages-european-language-label/

Connect with us: #LanguagesPathways portal: https://languagespathways.ie/

#LanguagesPathways Twitter account: @LanguagesPathw1

The existing Hub can be visited at Languages Pathways | Hubs by Mozilla