E-LOCAL (Electronically Learning Other Cultures And Languages) is a project funded under the LLP KA2 Languages which executes the EU language policy based on the principle of fostering language diversity, promoting multilingualism and encouraging the acquisition of less common languages. In 2012 E-LOCAL was awarded the European Language Label.
As its title suggests:
- it focuses on “other” - i.e. less widely used and less taught – languages, namely Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese;
- it is aimed at the acquisition of linguistic skills (beginner level) combined with the gradual knowledge of the related culture;
- learners can develop their linguistic and cultural competences in a specific online setting, i.e. through e-learning.
The main output of the project were six language and culture courses, developed by a partnership that included schools and universities, language experts and cultural experts, from six different EU countries. Target users were constantly involved throughout the project: during the first stage a questionnaire was launched to identify the students’ needs concerning web-based language learning; a hundred international pilot users were then selected to test the implemented courses, and their feedback was used to improve the learning materials.
E-LOCAL courses offer therefore a precious instrument developed with the aim of preparing students for a mobility period abroad. This is reflected in the thematic structure, formed by topics congenial to young people’s interests, as well as in the plot of the courses, where the main characters are two Erasmus students. The courses are built around the adventures of Anna and Alex, who arrive in one of the six E-LOCAL countries (according to the chosen language) and who initially do not master the local language. Through the use of English as a vehicular language, Anna and Alex – just like the students who will be taking the E-LOCAL courses – rapidly learn the language and also get in touch with many aspects of the local culture and daily life.
The courses are now available on the platform e-localcourses.eu and are used in the institutions belonging to the E-LOCAL consortium, but the purpose for the future is to expand considerably the user base and to explore new ways of exploitation, especially tutor-assisted.
For more information on E-LOCAL, please visit the website.