Language Garden – Learning the neighbour’s language in kindergarten

The Language Garden project aims to strengthen the knowledge of foreign language and intercultural competences of children by developing and testing cross-border qualifications for kindergarten teachers in Germany and Poland.

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Logo of the Language Garden project. Logo of the Language Garden project.

" Language Garden develops and tests cross-border qualifications for teachers, with the goal of introducing the practice of learning languages at an early age in the region’s kindergartens. "

Kamil Więcek, Language Garden project manager

It has been proven that language competence is one of the most important factors for social integration and inclusion, success and mobility at work, access to education, and personality development. Enabling children to become bilingual at an early age can also help provide equal opportunities for all.

However, despite the close proximity of the eastern German region of Brandenburg and the western Polish Lubuskie province, no methodical and didactical approach for imparting knowledge of the respective neighbour’s region has existed – until the Language Garden project set out to develop a way of teaching languages in kindergartens that is playful and appropriate for children, but still efficient.

Training teachers to support bilingualism

The project incorporated four aspects. Firstly, it followed a “training on the job” approach, where instructors visited 10 participating kindergartens in the region to give local staff the opportunity to obtain additional qualifications in imparting language and intercultural competences.

Secondly, an exchange of kindergarten teachers between German and Polish institutions has taken place. This was accompanied by preparatory workshops and courses, on-the-spot support by trainers, and the development of suitable teaching material.

New media helping communication

Beyond the merely advisory support to the teachers and educators, the project has also developed products that can help non-participants improve their bilingual competences. The third aspect of the project was the development and testing of an internet platform for teachers, where they can exchange experiences, and share and discuss learning materials.

Finally, the project emphasises the use of new media for teaching languages. Thus, a language learning computer programme for children was developed, which gives them the possibility to learn German or Polish. It is hoped that these tangible results will contribute to a durable increase of language competence in the region among children.

Four bilingual kindergartens have already been established in Frankfurt (Oder) and one in Poznań.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Language Garden – Development and testing of cross-border qualifications for teachers, with the goal of introducing the practice of learning languages at an early age in the region’s kindergartens” is EUR 124 854, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 103 629 through the “Poland (Lubuskie) – Germany (Brandenburg)” operational programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

Draft date