European Plurilingualism and Online Mobility at Primary Schools
Many EU countries are in the process of implementing radical educational reforms which introduce a second or foreign language into the education of young people. This is really important if we think of childhood as the best stage for learning languages (Schütz, 2004). In spite of European plurilingualism most of the countries (this is the case of Portugal) opted for the introduction of English as the foreign language to be taught at primary schools. In fact, if one wants to teach our children to become effective citizens of the European Union's cultural diversity, one has to manage to get them in touch with that European richness which lies on its linguistic diversity. Moreover, children must be given opportunities to engage in European public discourse as soon as possible in order to become aware of European plurilingualism and cultural diversity. On the one hand, this can be achieved by interchange programmes, arranged by their teachers; on the other hand, the ICT is also a way for making that reality happen if properly used. In this paper we will try to show the potentialities of the latter in the development of the "online mobility" (Cruz & Melo, 2004) at primary schools, by explaining at first the activities which have been carried out and secondly observing and studying different corpus collected in chat sessions between pupils in Portugal and Switzerland. Moreover, we will examine them both in a sociolinguistic perspective, taking into account pupils views on European cultures portrayed in the conversations. Therefore, we will try to analyze the existing representations, showing the need to take them into account in promoting language learning at a primary school level, based on recognizing the importance of Intercultural Communicative and Plurilingual Competences as a condition for true European democratic citizenship of the youngsters.
Keywords: Online Mobility, Early Foreign Languages Learning, Primary Schools, European Plurilingualism, European Citizenship, Representations of Languages and Cultures
PhD Mário Rui Domingues Ferreira da Cruz
Assistant Professor, Department of Languages, School of Education Paula Frassinetti
Mestre Paula Cristina Medeiros
Associate Professor, Department of Social and Human Sciences, School of Education Paula Frassinett