Linguistic and cultural diversity and richness in eTwinning
eTwinning activities bring diversity to education. In addition, cooperation increases the variety of languages and provides education with linguistic richness.
In addition to the European Union Member States, the neighbouring countries can also participate in eTwinning. Staff working in educational institutions in the neighbouring countries, such as teachers and head teachers in schools and early childhood education and care, can participate in eTwinning activities, cooperate in eTwinning projects and be part of the extensive learning community. The neighbouring countries include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Jordan, Lebanon, Moldova, Tunisia and Ukraine.
Development of internationalisation and eTwinning inspire
Ara Hayrabedian, International Developer at the North Karelia Municipal Education and Training Consortium Riveria, has several years of experience of international cooperation. He has been inspired by the opportunities provided by eTwinning and has used eTwinning to widely develop international activities both in his own organisation and with educational institutions from different countries.
There has also been intensive cooperation with a few countries from the regions neighbouring the EU. Ara, who is a Lebanese Armenian, moved to Finland in 1999. He has been dreaming of cooperation with the Armenian education sector for as long as he has been working in education.
An open and bold attitude enables contacts
Ara formed contacts with the Armenian education sector by taking initiative and participating boldly in the eTwinning training organised by the Armenian “National Center for Educational Technologies” although he did not know anyone from the Center. Soon, three schools from Armenia contacted him and were interested in cooperation. Although Riveria is a vocational institution and the schools in Armenia were comprehensive schools, travelling served as the common theme for international cooperation. Ara believes that the partner school does not necessarily have to be from the same level of education.
– How can we open gates if we cannot operate at many levels of education? he says.
Ara has also cooperated with a familiar school and head teachers from Lebanon. For example, with one school, he has organised a remote eTwinning training course for comprehensive schools in Lebanon.
– I taught them how eTwinning works and the teachers registered with eTwinning. The international eTwinning office in Lebanon already contacted the teachers on the following week. The office had noticed a large number of new registrations and was ready to help and support them. Everyone was extremely happy about this.
Meaningfulness of international cooperation and recognitions
Learning together and encounters between children, young people and colleagues from different countries are often the most important aspect of international cooperation. Even short encounters are meaningful and provide the school with linguistic and cultural diversity and understanding. The experience of meaningfulness is important for learners of different ages.
Ara explains that young people from different cultures should learn to know each other in more ways than just through the news. It should be possible for them to keep contact with each other concretely. The importance of cooperation reaches an entirely different level when a young person of the same age from a completely different culture is involved. This is the most important reason for Ara to be interested in the participation of the neighbouring countries. He emphasises the special nature of the cooperation between the countries:
We can give a lot to them, and they can give a lot to us.
The recognition received by the eTwinning activities and their visibility play an important role in the educational institution's international cooperation. People notice the quality and importance of international activities, and the recognition given to work well done is motivating.
Secure, user-friendly and participatory eTwinning
Ara finds eTwinning easy to start using and its use data secure. The platform serves its users well, and cooperation is effortless. Children and young people can also work on the website, add material and communicate between themselves. Ara highlights as an absolute advantage the fact that all learners can participate in international activities in eTwinning.
Thanks to the platform, there is no need to create a separate website for the project.
– eTwinning is a very simple ready-to-use platform, he says and adds, – The best thing is that it is free of charge. What could be more tempting?
Promoting continuity of international cooperation
There are many plans for the future, such as increasing cooperation with Georgia and Armenia. Common plans bring continuity to international cooperation and keep the networks active.
A small eTwinning project with a Lebanese school is also being planned. Ara finds the encounters between pupils and starting lightly the most important things.
– Cooperation can increase little by little, and opportunities will then open up.
Ara’s specific tips for using eTwinning and for cooperation with the neighbouring countries:
- Check that the information in your eTwinning profile is up to date: who you are, what you are interested in and what languages you know.
- Don't hesitate to contact people openly and don’t be afraid to take the initiative. You can learn from all cooperation!
- Start with light activities and small projects. Cooperation and networks will build up gradually.
- Teach and give! In the field of education, the most important thing is the joy of teaching and giving – if we do not have these, we will not learn ourselves, either.