Educational Co-operation in the Border Region (EDUCORB)
The long journey from early childhood to adulthood can be accompanied by language learning at each step. EDUCORB, located in the border region of Lower Austria (Industrieviertel) and West Hungary (Gyor-Moson-Sopron, Zala and Vas), provides continuous language learning that follows the learning pathway of a child. To achieve this, EDUCORB offers language learning at kindergartens and schools (primary and secondary education), as well as in Vocational Education and Training.
The foundation for this ambitious project is effective cross-border institutional cooperation. Critically, EDUCORB is embedded within a wider strategy of cross-border regional development and cross-border educational cooperation. It also crosses the borders of educational sectors – aiming at a comprehensive lifelong learning concept of language learning. Two Austrian and three Hungarian project partners are involved. The partners formed a consortium to jointly deliver the project. The Lead Partner (Regional Development Agency Industrieviertel) and its Hungarian counterpart (the Westpannonian Regional Development Agency), both have the capacity to act trans-nationally in cross-border regions. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, in the framework of a programme for trans-national cooperation Austria-Hungary 2007-2013 by the Federal Academy of Lower Austria and the Republic of Hungary.
The project pursues innovative methods for language learning; especially in pre-school education, since the partners and delivery staff believe that is crucial to foster the development of key competences for language learning in the pre-school years. EDUCORB insists on the involvement of native speakers or teachers with a bilingual background. Kindergarten teachers from Hungary and Austria are appointed to institutions in the other country. The foreign language teachers participate in normal everyday activities and address the children in Hungarian or German without marking this as a special ‘learning activity’. As explained by Marianne Erasimus (Pedagogical Consultant for the Lower Austria Kindergarten Department, the project learning “is not offered in the form of a course, but integrated in everyday activities...and in every activity both languages are used”. They introduce typical children’s games of their country, as well as seasonal and other festivities and events (Christmas, Easter, birthdays etc.), habits, songs, games, foods etc. The project’s innovative methods and approaches at pre-school level are described in the methodical handbook ‘Multilingualism in Kindergartens’. After the project activity is finished, this language learning material will still be available for use, allowing for mainstreaming of the project approach.
Further down the language learning pathway, EDUCORB tries to promote the acquisition of language skills in Hungarian (in Austrian institutions) and German (in Hungarian institutions) mainly by emphasising the regional demands of the labour market, and identifying where bilingualism would be advantageous. Since Austria and Germany are perceived as attractive work environments, Hungarian students (and their parents) are generally keen to learn German. Austrian students, though, do not necessarily perceive the Hungarian border region as an option for labour mobility. Here, it is crucial to convince parents to support their children’s’ efforts to acquire the language of the neighbour country. Therefore, EDUCORB also promotes language learning as part of citizenship education (‘education for peace’) and addresses the common history of the region, during periods of peace and conflict. By this approach, more people can be convinced to engage in Austrian-Hungarian intercultural exchange and language learning.
The partners succeeded in creating language learning opportunities for students at each stage of their educational pathway from nursery school onwards by bringing together partners from different sectors (school, pre-school, VET, business representatives). Over 600 children from 19 kindergartens have been involved. The project has also engaged hundreds of school children in over 40 schools in Austria and Hungary. The success of the project is based around the approach to language learning and the development of intercultural competences as part of regional development strategy. The regional activities are reflected in and accompanied by activities on federal level, for example, launch of a ‘language learning offensive’ that also includes the languages of other neighbour countries (Czech, Slovenian, Slovakian etc.).
Tel: +43 2622 27156 15
Fax: +43 2622 27156 99
Regionaler Entwicklungsverband Industrieviertel-Projektmanagement,
Nikolett Raidl, A-2801 Katzelsdorf, Schlossstraße 1