THE WIDER IMPACT
When we first planned the project our aim was to raise awareness about the benefits of language learning among those who took part, both the learners themselves and the staff in the agencies with whom we collaborated to run our activities. We believe now that, although many of our activities have been small-scale and local, the impact has been significant.
Impact in the community
ALLEGRO has a simple message – languages are for everyone and everyone has a right to share in the European vision. We believe that this message has reverberated from the projects we have carried out.
These are the words of Christine, a member of The Evergreen Theatre group, Nottingham UK (a group for adults with learning disabilities)
“I can’t learn a language – I’m 34 years old and I can’t even speak English properly”
During the first tea break (speaking to others in the day centre cafe, both staff and clients) “Bonjour. Bonjour. Je m’appelle Christine. Et toi? Et toi?”
“I’m going to go home and tell everyone about this – my key worker, her child. I’m going to teach them how to say bonjour and je m’appelle”
Small steps indeed but this is how the message spreads.
In Cuenca, Spain a child with Downs Syndrome learns English. Here her teacher reports on an incident after class:
One day, while we were in the hall after the session with parents and other children. The youngest of our pupils, whose level of participation in class had been low, said she would be the teacher and I would be the student. She started to ask me the kind of questions I normally used in class – What’s this? What colour is this? I had to answer the questions. She was imitating me all the time, holding her ears while she said Listen!, putting her finger in her mouth when saying Quiet! or Silence, please! She asked me to stand up, sit down, touch my nose and a series of things we had been practising during the lessons. If I made a deliberate mistake, she told me off and asked me to repeat again.
Her pronunciation was not good, but I realized she had learnt most of the things that had been taught and was enjoying repeating them in front of the parents and the other children. When I said it was time to go, her parents were clapping and congratulating her, she gave me a big hug and a kiss, and I had tears in my eyes. It has been one of the most satisfying experiences in my life and has made me think about my own teaching techniques. (I am a university teacher).
And back in the UK [from the mother with her two sons in the photograph]
"We all really enjoyed watching it [a performance in French by a children’s theatre group] together. It didn't matter if you knew any French or not. My eldest boy is really looking forward to learning French and the little one wants to as well."
Reaching the wider world
The work of the ALLEGRO project has been promoted and recognized nationally and internationally. As well as numerous press articles and media coverage, ALLEGRO Slovenia and ALLEGRO UK have both won European Quality Labels. ALLEGRO has been chosen as one of the fifty best practices for promoting languages in Europe. We have had enquiries from as far afield as Brazil about our work. Wherever we have spoken about the project people have been impressed by the positive attitudes which have been shown to learning about new languages and cultures among both the learners and the partner agencies.
ALLEGRO Slovenia has been featured in the European Union website TV Links. Click here to see the video.