DNYE

Debreceni Nyári Egyetem @ 1927

Who Learns Our Languages?
sponsored by the Visegrád Fund

The aim of the project is to analyze the current status of the instruction and acquisition of the V4 languages in the V4 countries. We plan to make a survey of the study of Czech as a foreign language in the Czech Republic, Hungarian in Hungary, Polish in Poland and Slovak in Slovakia. We want to make a survey on the learners, the teachers and the available textbooks. The results will be used to make recommendations for the promotion of the V4 languages inside and outside the V4 countries.

Who Learns Our Languages?

Short project description

The aim of the project is to analyze the current status of the instruction and acquisition of the V4 languages in the V4 countries. We plan to make a survey of the study of Czech as a foreign language in the Czech Republic, Hungarian in Hungary, Polish in Poland and Slovak in Slovakia. We want to make a survey on the learners, the teachers and the available textbooks. The results will be used to make recommendations for the promotion of the V4 languages inside and outside the V4 countries.

Detailed project description

The primary aim of the project is to analyze the current status of the instruction and acquisition of the V4 languages in the V4 countries based on the following questions:
1.) Where can you study Czech as a foreign language in the Czech Republic, Hungarian in Hungary, Polish in Poland and Slovak in Slovakia? Are there degree courses at universities? Do language schools offer their native tongue as a foreign language?
2.) Who are the learners of the above languages and what components are there in their motivation? Why do they learn the language: to study, to work, to be able to communicate, to find a hobby, to connect with their original culture, etc.?
3.) Who are the teachers of the above languages? Do they hold a degree in the given language as a foreign language? Do they teach their native tongue as a full-time/part-time job? Are there teacher-training programs?
4.) What textbooks are available?

In order to find answers to the above questions, the project is designed to comprise the following activities:
1.) Setting up a partnership of 4 language schools—one in each V4 country—which regularly teach their native tongue as a foreign language.
2.) A kick-off meeting of the representatives of the partner schools to work out the common questionnaire(s) to be used for the research.
3.) The individual schools conduct a national survey of the current status of the V4 languages as a foreign language.
4.) A conference and workshop where the results of the surveys with comments and best practices will be presented.
5.) The conclusions and suggestions of the conference participants will be posted and assessed at a website and made available to the general public. The collected materials will also be used to make recommendations for the promotion of the V4 languages in the V4 countries.

Target groups and groups benefiting from the project

The project is designed to help the community of learners and teachers of Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak. The national surveys and the contributions from the participants of the Debrecen conference will provide a clear picture of the current situation. The target groups of the project can be defined on various levels: first, those institutions where the V4 languages are taught for foreigners; second, a potential network of teachers and managers involved in running such language courses; and, third, all those people in the Visegrád countries who are interested in learning any of these languages. We believe that the collected information will reach several hundred teachers and students in the four countries and even beyond.

Expected outputs

The most important output we expect from the project is a V4 language network base which will work together in the future to help each other in a professional sense. It means that we will have a chance for other joint projects to increase the number of those people in Europe and elsewhere who would be willing to learn our languages. On the other hand, we strongly believe that by promoting the possibility of learning any of the V4 languages within and outside the V4 countries, we contribute to the better understanding of our countries in general and our cultures in particular. As a third element, it must also be mentioned that the implementation of the project itself will raise interest in each other’s best practices both in the field of teaching methods and PR activities.

Planned PR activities

We plan 3 press conferences during the project.
The first will be in January 2014 at the time of the kick-off meeting where the representatives of the partner institutions will also be present for comments and interviews. The second press conference will be held before the opening session of the conference and workshop in August 2014 to inform the public about the stage we will have reached by that time. The third one is planned for the end of the project when we introduce our website and all the final results. In addition, we plan to publish partial results in the Debrecen Sun, an English-language online journal and other media recommended by our partners in the three V4 countries.

Continuation of the project

The planned project is only the first step towards a larger one which will aim at collecting similar information on the teaching and learning of all the V4 languages in all the V4 countries. In other words, we want to do research in the popularity and availability of the four languages which will enable us to formulate new strategies in promoting our languages inside and outside the European Union. The four partner schools will jointly work on working out language and culture programmes for foreigners who are interested in our cultures.

‘Visegrad feature’ of the project

In a world dominated by the daily use of English, speakers of other languages are continuously prompted to analyze the most important social, political, cultural and linguistic phenomena that influence the use and status of their native tongue. This issue is all the more relevant in the case of the “less widely used languages” including Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak—briefly, the V4 languages. Since all the partners and the languages to be examined in the project are from the V4 countries, the Visegrád feature must be evident. The results of the national surveys will give us a chance to offer these languages even as a package to various institutions and individuals. All these will contribute to the better understanding and visibility of the Visegrád group.