FOCUS on a strong data base

From the dawn of western civilization, foreign language learning was considered an integral part of education. From Ancient Rome to the Renaissance and from the Byzantium to the Industrial Revolution, foreign languages were used as a means of communication or even as a sign of higher education of the bourgeois. Nowadays, the reasons for which someone learns a language vary. There is one undisputable truth, though. Today, more than ever, societies in every corner of the world, dictate foreign languages be taught, and in very small ages at that. In actuality, in most European countries, the first foreign language is introduced in kindergarten. What happens, though, with children who have difficulties even in learning their own language? How do we deal and help children with learning difficulties?  

Learning disabilities are characterized by their trait to be enlarged once the pupil comes into contact with another language. Even on the basis of a first try, difficulties become all the more evident and unbearable. Due to this, it is not uncommon for pupils to give up every effort. It is at this point that teachers ought to step in and show the students all those ways that are to make them capable of going beyond and conquer the language, much like the rest of their classmates.  

Our project, FOCUS, having recognized all these impediments that are created to pupils with learning difficulties, calls attention to teachers’ reskilling since, more often than not, they are not properly equipped with the right methods to deal with said difficulties. The online database, which is being set up as we speak, aims to support teachers with already proven functioning teaching methods so that they can adapt their lesson to the specific individual needs of their pupils. Teachers will be able to browse through a plethora of methods and techniques, approved by the partners, so as to select those they themselves consider effective. 

The FOCUS database will become an important tool, easily accessible from any place in the world by any foreign language teacher in the world as it is going to be translated in six different languages (English, Italian, Spanish, Slovenian, Lithuanian, Greek). The desirable result is, primarily, the conversion of all foreign language classrooms into inclusive classrooms full of children who are happy to be taking part and learning, while we also aim to provide help to teachers in order to become pioneers in special education by using innovative approaches. 

There is no doubt that inclusion, along with respecting uniqueness, should have been a priority of every school for decades. Now, however, with the acquired knowledge, there can be no excuses in leaving children with learning difficulties helpless. FOCUS is an exceptional opportunity for teachers to grab the existing knowledge and utilize it towards leading the way to a supportive environment which rewards students on their way to thrive.   

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