Debrecen, Thermal Baths, Sports Ambassadors and Cabbages………. 21st – 25th September 2017

The ErasmusYSDA + Youth Sports Development Ambassadors (YSDA) project involves seven partner countries from around Europe. Last weekend saw ambassadors and mentors from Wales, Italy, Portugal and Poland visiting Debrecen and Hajduhadhaz in Hungary for four days of culture, training and sports development. As project manager I had not originally planned to attend the mobility so it was an added bonus to step in and travel as a mentor to Conor Lees one of our Welsh YSDA. If I’d been told at the start of planning a European sports development project that I would end up cooking lamb stew a Hungarian Cabbage festival as part of this project I wouldn’t have believed you – but indeed this happened!

Hungary 2

Arriving in Debrecen there was a stark contrast between the airport (a former Soviet military base) and the city centre with its mix of modern bars, restaurants and transport and some beautiful old buildings and parks. The city is the second largest in Hungary with a population of around 250,000 and a famous University.

Hungary4Debrecen Airport

Hungary 3Debrecen City Centre
The accommodation for the weekend included free entry to a waterpark and thermal baths, which proved an interesting cultural experience; the baths are natural and range from around 30 degrees C to 40 degrees C with some colder options to dive into. Due to the sulphur, the watercolour darkens in brown the hotter, each bath is and after a couple of days to acclimatise, these proved a popular way to recharge the batteries for YSDA and mentors.
Friday provided a chance for everyone to meet and take part in some entertaining icebreakers with our host Ziggy Kovacs from DEKUT leading the group. First stop was the local town of Hajduhadhaz at the Fiksz Pont project centre with activity led by Ziggy and Gabriella Lakatos one of the mentors from the Roma community. The rapidly growing group now including Hungarian partners then visited a local sports facility funded 90% by the EU, part of a community development with outdoor play and fitness provision and meeting rooms and indoor sports facilities. It was interesting that the facility was run by a small company set up in a similar way to some of the trusts that exist for leisure provision in the UK.
Following a traditional lunch, the group were joined by the local YSDA and mentors and travelled to Hortobagy national park on the Hungarian plains. Entertainment en route included some folk singing by the Hungarian YSDA, which made for an enjoyable journey. At Hortobagy the group enjoyed demonstrations of horse skills and a tour of the plains and surrounding area.

Hungary 5
After an interesting first day, the group headed back to Debrecen for some more thermal bathing (now almost compulsory) and an early night in preparation for a very busy day to follow.
Unfortunately for our hosts we experienced some traditional Welsh weather on Saturday in Hajduhadhaz (pronounced high – doo – had – has , I think) which resulted in the first activity a 2k fun run for the Heart being cancelled. Instead, Conor and I delivered some presentations to the group on the YSDA project and Conor’s experience as a college student volunteering and planning activity in Wales.
The town is host to an annual cabbage festival with lots of community events including concerts, fitness activities and a large festival over the weekend. As part of this the YSDA project group participated in a “fitness” session in a local school led by Norbert Schobert and Reka Rubint, Hungary’s most famous fitness professionals. Arriving a bit late most of the group got stuck in to the session which was a mix of aerobics, high intensity exercises and what seemed like a thousand squats of various form. This continued for around 80 minutes with everyone from the overweight project manager to local Roma children enjoying the experience

Hungary 7Reka Rubint with Inez Polish – YSDA
Moving on we then visited a local school for 15+ age pupils which provides vocational training for the local Roma young people. Most of the local YSDA and mentors had either attended or worked at the school and gave a really informative tour of the facilities school had and the challenges they face. Some of the subjects being taught were very similar to those in FE colleges in Wales with childcare / social care / construction among them.
After an amazing lunch of Goulash soup back at the community centre, the group engaged in some role play games with the adults pretending to be a group of grumpy or lazy teenagers (maybe similar to some target groups for the project!) and the YSDA trying to motivate them and create new activity. They then took part in a Karate session with Jose Maia, Portuguese mentor doing a first class job of leading this activity.

After some work preparing decorations from partner countries for the main festival the next day, the last task on Saturday was to erect a large tent. This could have led to the “how many people does it take to change a light bulb” question. We actually had around 20 people from five EU countries speaking about 10 languages all working in monsoon type conditions who finally succeeded to erect a very nice new home for the group to work in on Sunday.

After more thermal bathing on Saturday night, the group had an early start on Sunday heading to the cabbage festival. At some point when discussing cultural experiences Ziggy had suggested entering the cooking competition at the festival, the rest will go down as one of the most different but enjoyable experiences I have had in a long time.

The whole town and festival is a celebration of the cabbage with decorations made with cabbages and many other agricultural materials. The festival and competition proved to be a much bigger event than I had personally expected it was something similar to a large agricultural show in Wales.Hungary 10
The cooking competition presented a few challenges for all involved. The first challenge being how to cook using one of the traditional 50 litre pots, secondly finding lamb for lamb stew and thirdly avoiding friendly locals offering Palinka, Hungarian schnapps made from berries and other fruit. Also having to present the food to Lazar Kovacs a famous celebrity chef in Hungary and teaching YSDA to make dumplings proved interesting but the end results proved to be a success and our Polish partners also cooked up some amazing stuffed cabbage rolls also assisted by the YSDA.

Overall, this was a fantastic experience; the hospitality of our hosts was amazing, the YSDA and mentors really ensured we all learnt from the experience, gaining hands on opportunities of physical activity in Hungary and making friends along the way. For those involved visiting Debrecen for the first time and meeting the local people from the Roma community this trip has proved to be a really enjoyable and rewarding experience.

 

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Catalonia Day 4 – (our last day) – #FEInnovate

llun diwrnod 4

An inspirational and very busy week is coming to an end with the last visit of our unforgettable Catalonian experience. This morning we visited the Institut de Nautica de Barcelona, located on the beautiful waterfront in a new and very impressive building. The college specialises in nautical courses ranging from nautical sports to boat building and maintenance. They have 316 post -16 vocational learners who mainly fall under the dual system. As with the other colleges we have visited this week, a big emphasis is put on practical application of knowledge within a vocational setting. The college has increased the number of hours’ learners spend out in the workplace from 350 hrs over the duration of the course to 1000 hrs.

The learners complete their studies mainly through the medium of Catalan with some Spanish. English is introduced as a 3rd language as a response to sector demands for English speakers. The nautical industry has become truly international and multilingual workers are highly sought after.

Xavier Cuerpo, Head of Languages at the Institut de Nautica de Barcelona, explained to us that all learners receive additional English lessons but that certain vocational units are also delivered in English to enable the learners to apply their language skills in a technical environment. Xavier explained that the learners have more difficulty with using technical English than conversational English, which is, of course, also sometimes true for Welsh speakers and learners. The more opportunity learners have to use and apply their language skills the better. Learners here often do this through project work and other means.

There is a big emphasis on teacher support and training in using other languages, especially English. Senior management encourage and make it easy for staff to attend English lessons so that they are able to deliver some units in English. The group felt that we need this level of engagement with the Welsh language in our colleges to increase the number of staff able to deliver some elements bilingually or in Welsh. Much support is offered to staff in the use of technology to support language acquisition within a vocational context and Zavier supports staff with the creation of English resources. Something that many of us do on a day to day basis back in Wales. We are more convinced than ever that there needs to be some element of Welsh learning as part of the PGCE so that all teachers are able to deliver bilingually to some extent.

Xavier is excellent at using technology and interactive means to make his language lessons fun and interesting for the learners. He demonstrated the use of vocabulary dominoes and the Thinklink website which is created by learners and links language resources to subject specific images. We were all interested in the Present.me tool which enables learners and staff to create presentations in any language at home. This helps to build confidence gradually until the learners feel ready to present in person. A great tool that we want to explore when we are back in our colleges. Xavier has bounds of enthusiasm for language teaching and learning and he left us all feeling motivated and excited about using new ideas at home.

We had a brief visit to the boat building and maintenance workshop where the leaners ‘learn their trade’ and apply their new language skills. What a setting, right by the water!

After a lovey walk along the beach we had our final meal together as a group at a seafood restaurant, where we had to part ways with Maria, our fabulous host for the week. I think it’s safe to say that we are feeling inspired, tired and a little sad that the visit is coming to an end. What a fantastic group of hard working, energetic and positive people that are eager to implement some of the many things we have learnt from our inspiring hosts this week.

Our final few hours before the flight home were spent visiting the sights of beautiful Barcelona and having some time to evaluate the week and discuss some collaborative ideas after we return to our colleges.

Thank you Erasmus+ for an unforgettable experience, let’s hope these learner and staff mobility opportunities continue to exist post Brexit.

 

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Erasmus+ Catalonia Diwrnod 4 (y diwrnod olaf) – #ArloesiAB

llun diwrnod 4

Mae wythnos ysbrydoledig a phrysur iawn yn dod i ben gyda’n hymweliad olaf fel rhan o’n taith fythgofiadwy i Gatalunya. Aethom i ymweld â Institut de Nautica de Barcelona y bore ma, sydd wedi ei leoli wrth y dŵr mewn adeilad newydd a thrawiadol. Mae’r coleg yn arbenigo mewn cyrsiau morwrol o chwaraeon dŵr i adeiladu a chynhaliaeth cwch. Mae 316 o ddisgyblion ol-16 sydd yn disgyn yn bennaf o fewn y drefn ddeuol. Fel sy’n wir am y colegau eraill yma, mae pwyslais mawr ar gymhwyso sgiliau ymarferol mewn cwmni/gweithle. Mae’r coleg wedi cynyddu’r nifer o oriau mewn gweithle o 365awr dros gyfnod y cwrs i 1000 o oriau.

 Mae’r dysgwyr yn cwblhau eu hastudiaethau drwy gyfrwng Catalan gyda rhywfaint o Sbaeneg. Mae Saesneg yn cael ei gyflwyno fel 3ydd Iaith er mwyn ymateb i’r galw yn y gweithle am siaradwyr Saesneg. Mae’r diwydiant morwrol yn un rhyngwladol iawn ac mae galw mawr am staff amlieithog. 

Esboniodd Xavier Cuerpo, Pennaeth Ieithoedd Institut de Nautica de Barcelona, fod y dysgwyr i gyd yn derbyn gwersi Saesneg ychwanegol ac hefyd mae rhai unedau galwedigaethol yn cael eu dysgu drwy gyfrwng y Saesneg er mwyn rhoi cyfle i gymhwyso Saesneg o fewn amgylchedd technegol. Esboniodd hefyd fod y dysgwyr yn cael fwy o drafferth gyda geiriau technegol drwy gyfrwng y Saesneg nag iaith sgwrsio. Mae hyn wrth gwrs yn wir am ein siaradwyr a dysgwyr Cymraeg. Y mwyaf yw’r cyfleoedd i ddefnyddio a chymhwyso iaith yna’r gorau yw’r canlyniadau. Mae dysgwyr yma yn gwneud hyn drwy waith prosiect ymhlith ffyrdd eraill. Mae pwyslais mawr ar gefnogi a hyfforddi athrawon i ddefnyddio ieithoedd gwahanol, fel Saesneg. Mae uwch reolwyr yn ysgogi ac yn gwneud hi’n hawdd i staff ddysgu Saesneg fel y gallant ddysgu rhai unedau trwy’r Saesneg. Teimlodd y grŵp bod angen ymrwymiad fel hyn gyda’r Gymraeg er mwyn cynyddu’r nifer o staff sy’n gallu dysgu’n ddwyieithog  neu yn Gymraeg. Mae llawer o gefnogaeth yn cael ei roi i staff wrth ddefnyddio technoleg wrth ddatblygu sgiliau ieithyddol o fewn cyd-destun galwedigaethol. Mae Xavier hefyd yn cefnogi staff i greu adnoddau dwyieithog, fel mae y rhan fwyaf ohonom ni y gwneud o ddydd i ddydd. Rydym yn fwy sicr nag erioed bod angen cyflwyno’r Gymraeg o fewn holl gyrsiau TAR er mwyn galluogi pob athro i gyflwyno’n ddwyieithog i ryw raddau.

 Mae Xavier yn wych ar ddefnyddio technoleg a dulliau rhyngweithiol o ddysgu iaith a gwneud gwersi yn hwyliog ar gyfer ei ddysgwyr. Dangosodd sut gellir defnyddio dominos geirfa a’r safle Thinklink sy’n caniatáu i ddysgwr gysylltu geirfa ieithyddol gyda lluniau galwedigaethol penodol. Roedd gennym ddiddordeb mawr yn yr arf Present.me sy’n galluogi dysgwyr a staff i greu cyflwyniadau mewn unrhyw iaith o gartref. Mae hyn yn helpu i wella hyder yn raddol nes mae’r unigolyn yn barod i gyflwyno mewn person. Rhywbeth diddorol iawn i arbrofi gydag ar ôl dychwelyd i’n colegau. Mae gan Xavier tomen o frwdfrydedd am ddysgu ac addysgu iaith ac mae wedi ein hysgogi ni i ddefnyddio dulliau newydd yn ein colegau.

 Cawsom ymweliad byr a’r gweithdy adeiladu a chynhaliaeth cwch ble mae’r dysgwyr yn perffeithio eu crefft wrth ymarfer eu sgiliau iaith. Am leoliad, reit wrth y dŵr!

 Ar ôl cerdded ar hyd y traeth yn yr haul cawsom bryd bwyd olaf gyda’n gilydd, mewn bwyty bwyd mor ble roedd yn rhaid ffarwelio a Maria, ein gwesteiwr gwych am yr wythnos. Mae’n wir i ddweud fod pawb wedi eu hysbrydoli, wedi blino ac yn teimlo bach yn drist fod y profiad yn dod i ben. Am griw gwych o bobol gweithgar, llawn egni a phositif sy’n barod i weithredu rhai o’r pethau newydd sydd wedi cael eu dysgu’r wythnos yma gan ein gwesteion arbennig.

Gwariwyd ein horiau terfynol yn ymweld â rhai o olygfeydd prydferth Barcelona a chael amser i werthuso’r wythnos a thrafod syniadau i gydweithio ar ôl dychwelyd i’n colegau.

Diolch Erasmus+ am brofiad bythgofiadwy, gan obeithio bydd cyfleoedd symudedd i staff a dysgwyr yn parhau ar ôl Brexit.

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Erasmus+ Catalonia Day 3 – #FEInnovate

Llun blog 3An early start at 7.45am to the third day of the trip to Catalonia as we leave the city and caught a train to Vic, in the area of ​​Osona. Maria was already on the train so it was very important for us to be on time. While travelling through the mountains, the rain came and changed the landscape that welcomed industrial areas. Our expectations were of a grey, industrial city, therefore we were very pleasantly surprised. We walked through heavy rain but on arrival at a beautiful college we had an a warm welcome from the Principal Cristòfol Estrella i Padilla.

Cris presented their structure, curriculum areas and important work on mobility. Before taking a tour of the college which had 1400 learners and 125 staff, he referenced the areas of provision, they are; business and management, marketing, electronics, installation and maintenance, chemistry, and health.

He also emphasised the pride toward the Catalan language in explaining that everything is taught through the medium of Catalan.

A number of courses are dual core which means that there are common modules and therefore it is possible to achieve two courses over three years instead of four. Students and employers alike favour this model. This innovative system of supporting learner and staff mobility started in 1992 and they now have 37 foreign college partners, this is confirmation of the excellent work by Principal Cris and the team. As we wandered around the college, Cris focussed on the importance of real experiences for their learners, and we were able to see a number of dedicated rooms with practical tools from the world of work. They have a supermarket, pharmacy, dental hygeine room, maternity ward, emergency room, and disptach storeroom complete with a forklift. In response to local industry demand, they will be introducing a lorry driver course in September.  To provide a realistic experience of the workplace, the college, the Catalan government and companies have invested in quality, realistic professional resources, supporting learners to be confident before entering the workplace.

Cris mentioned that unemployment in the region stood at 0%, and that their problem was learner capacity, and finding enough learners to fill certain jobs in the area.

It is imperative for Institut de Vic to offer mobility projects to: study; get work experience; dual mobility; and staff mobility, in order to broaden the skills, experience and awareness of what is happening within countries and partner companies.

To conclude the morning session we watched a marketing video for the city that gave an overview and visions of the stunning buildings, the history and culture of the city. Cris then led us around the beautiful city that was a mix of new and old.
We enjoyed a traditional local lunch and the opportunity for networking before moving on to the afternoon session.

We walked for ten minutes towards the first factory visit of the afternoon, to a frozen food factory by the name Fferer. There, we had an entertaining presentation on the history of this family company that has expanded over the 92 years of its existence, from being a local company to being a company completely international.  The international nature of the company has obviosuly had an impact on the language used on a daily basis. By now, Spanish and English are used by the company in communicating in public, but it was great to hear that the workers use Catalan internally.

The highlight of the visit was the experience of the extreme temperature on entering the freezer, and also seeing the factory floor where college learners work as part of their dual mobility. We realised our summer clothes not suitable for the freezing temperature!. We had not organized this too well!!
We proceeded to the residence-hall for mobility learners and staff, which Cris was so proud to show us. There were attractive and comfortable apartments over five floors with views over the whole city.

Before leaving Vic, there was an opportunity for a last visit to a traditional Catalonian sausage factory called Cas Riera Ordeix. Nowadays, it is the only company that continues to produce sausage in the same way as when it was established in the 1800s.
This is another example of a family company, now run by the sixth generation and working in Catalan. As they are the only company of its kind, they have taken the opportunity to open their doors to tourists in order to share their and offer tourist visits in Spanish, French, English, and of course Catalan.

It was wonderful to have the opportunity to taste and buy the unique produce.
Thanks to Cris for organizing and spending the whole day with us as visitors. We realise, as the head of a large and busy school, this has been a great commitment on his part.
After nearly 14 hours of incredible experiences during the day, it was our last night and a chance to discuss the highlights over a wonderful Italian dinner near our hotel in Barcelona.

 

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Erasmus+ Catalonia Diwrnod 3 – #ArloesiAB

Llun blog 3

Cychwyn cynnar  am 7.45m i’r trydydd diwrnod o’r daith i Gatalonia  gan ein bod yn gadael y ddinas a dal trên i Vic, yn ardal Osona. Roedd Maria eisoes ar y trên felly roedd yn hynod bwysig i ni fod ar amser. Wrth deithio drwy’r mynyddoedd, daeth y glaw a newid i’r dirwedd wrth i ardaloedd diwydiannol ein croesawu. O weld hynny disgwyliom weld dinas ddiwydiannol lwydaidd. Cerddon i’r coleg yn y glaw trwm ond pleser oedd cyrraedd adeilad hardd a chael croeso i’r brenin gan y Pennaeth Cristòfol Estrella i Padilla. 

Cyflwynodd Cris ar eu strwythur, meysydd cwricwlwm a’r gwaith holl bwysig ar symudedd. Cyn mynd am daith o amgylch y coleg sy’n cynnwys 1400 o ddysgwyr a 125 o staff, cyfeiriodd at y meysydd mae’r coleg yn eu darparu sef; Busnes a rheolaeth, marchnata, trydaneg ac electroneg, gosod a chynnal, cemeg, ac iechyd.

Hefyd, pwysleisiodd Cris y balchder sydd gennant at yr iaith Catalan wrth esbonio bod pob dim yn cael eu dysgu trwy gyfrwng y Catalan.

Mae nifer y cyrsiau yn ddeuol sy’n golygu fod modiwlau craidd sy’n gyffredin ac felly mae’n bosib cyflawni dau gwrs dros dair blynedd yn lle pedwar. Mae myfyrwyr a chyflogwyr yn hoff o hyn. Mae hyn yn cefnogi eu system arloesol o symudedd a ddechreuodd yn 1992. Mae eisoes 37 partner o dramor gan y coleg, sy’n dyst i’r gwaith da gan Cris a’r tîm.

Wrth i ni grwydro o amgylch y coleg, daeth mwy o wybodaeth gan Cris ar bwysigrwydd profiadau go-iawn  yn ogystal â gweld nifer o stafelloedd pwrpasol gyda’r offer ymarferol o’r byd gwaith. Gwelom ni archfarchnad, fferyllfa,  glanheuwydd deintyddol, ward mamolaeth, ystafell brys, storfa adeiladwaith gyda wagon fforch godi (‘forklift’).  Er mwyn cynnig y profiad realistig o’r gweithle, mae’r coleg, llywodraeth Catalonia a chwmnïau wedi buddsoddi mewn cyfleusterau proffesiynol cyn i’r myfyrwyr mynd allan i’r gweithle.

Soniodd Cris fod diweithdra yn yr ardal yn 0%, a bod hi’n anodd dod o hyd i ddigon o ddysgwyr i lenwi’r swyddi penodol yn yr ardal. Clywon fod hyfforddiant galwedigaethol yng Nghatalonia yn cyfateb anghenion rhanbarthol cyflogwyr lle bod swydd i bawb sy’n cael eu hyfforddi.

Mae’n holl bwysig i Institut de Vic i gynnig prosiectau symudedd i: astudio; mynd ar brofiad gwaith; symudedd deuol; a symudedd staff, er mwyn ehangu sgiliau, profiadau ac ymwybyddiaeth o hyn sy’n digwydd o fewn wledydd a chwmnïau partner.

I gloi sesiwn y bore gwyliom ni fideo marchnata o ddinas Vic hynod drawiadol a wnaeth arddangos hanes a diwylliant y ddinas. Fe dywysodd Cris ni o gwmpas y ddinas hardd hon wrth ddangos yr hen a’r newydd.

Cawsom ginio traddodiadol yr ardal gyda chyfle i rwydweithio cyn mynd ymlaen at sesiwn y prynhawn.

Cerddon am ddeg munud tuag at ffatri gyntaf y prynhawn sef ffatri bwyd rhewedig o’r enw Fferer. Yna, cawsom gyflwyniad difyr am hanes cwmni teuluol sydd wedi ehangu dros y 92 flynedd o’i fodolaeth, o fod yn gwmni lleol i fod yn gwmni hollol ryngwladol.  Mae natur ryngwladol y cwmni wedi cael effaith ar yr iaith a ddefnyddir o ddydd i ddydd. Bellach, defnyddir Sbaeneg a Saesneg gan y cwmni wrth gyfathrebu yn gyhoeddus, ond braf iawn oedd clywed bod y gweithwyr yn defnyddio Catalan yn fewnol.

Uchafbwynt yr ymweliad oedd y profiad o rewi yn y rhewgell a gweld llawr y ffatri lle mae dysgwyr y coleg yn gweithio fel rhan o’u symudedd deuol. Doedd ein dillad haf ni ddim yn addas i’r tymheredd rhewedig. Doedden ni ddim wedi trefnu hyn yn rhy dda!

Ymlaen â ni at neuadd breswyl yr oedd Cris mor falch o ddangos i ni, sydd ar gyfer dysgwyr a staff symudedd. Yr oedd yna fflatiau deniadol a chyffyrddus dros y pum llawr gyda golygfeydd dros yr holl ddinas.

Cyn gadael Vic yr oedd yna gyfle am ymweliad olaf i ffatri selsig draddodiadol Catalonia o’r enw Casa Riera Ordeix. Erbyn hyn, dyma’r unig gwmni o’r fath sydd wedi parhau i gynhyrchu selsig yn yr un modd, ac yn yr un lleoliad â phan y’i sefydlwyd yn y 1800au.

Unwaith eto, dyma gwmni teuluol arall sydd gyda chweched genhedlaeth yn rhedeg y cwmni trwy gyfrwng y Catalan. Gan mai nhw yw’r unig gwmni o’r fath erbyn hyn maent wedi manteisio ar y cyfle i agor eu drysau i dwristiaid er mwyn rhannu’r grefft wrth gynnig yr ymweliadau i dwristiaid Sbaeneg, Ffrangeg, Saesneg, ac wrth gwrs Catalaneg.

Hyfryd oedd cael y cyfle i flasu a phrynu’r cynnyrch unigryw hwn.

Diolchwn i Cris am drefnu a threulio’r holl ddiwrnod gyda ni fel ymwelwyr. Sylwyddolwn, gan ei fod yn bennaeth ar ysgol fawr brysur, bod hyn wedi bod yn ymroddiad mawr ar ei ran.

Ar ôl bod wrthi am bron 14 awr gyda phrofiadau anhygoel yn ystod y dydd, roedd ein noson olaf yn gyfle gwych i drafod uchafbwyntiau dros swper Eidalaidd bendigedig ger ein gwesty ym Marcelona.

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Erasmus+ Catalonia Day #2

Llun blog 2

After a good night’s sleep and a delicious breakfast, the group walked toward the Metro to meet Maria downtown. A group of 22 visitors on public transport is a sight worth seeing. Today’s visit was to the school / college vocational Institut Carles Vallbona in Granollers that was located around an hour from the city by train.

The aim of the visit was to hear more from the educational institution on how they integrated multilingualism within the curriculum in order to normalise language learning. This was an industrial area famous for the chemical industry, with some courses corresponding to the need for specific skills in this area.

We were welcomed by the Principal and then the staff and students were responsible for presenting us with an overview of the pioneering work on language learning.

The definition of multilingualism in Catalonia is the ability to communicate in Catalan, Spanish and English with all three languages ​​being treated with equal respect, and each having three dedicated hours of teaching per week. They also introduce other languages, for example German and French. In order to demonstrate their awareness of the Welsh language they used Welsh words on their presentations, however Welsh is not on their curriculum just yet!

It is evident that project activity is a powerful tool that strengthens language skills and understanding of multilingualism and as a result improves the communication skills and employability of their learners. Each project includes partnering with other foreign countries, either by visiting or e-twinning. Certainly there is an opportunity here for Welsh colleges to partake in this activity, and some are already engaged.

We heard from two 15-year-old students who were particularly inspiring as they spoke fluently and confidently in plain English (their third language) on the importance of multilingualism. Students commented on how being bilingual enables them to access other languages, which consequently enriches their lives. They felt that language is an integral part of their culture and heritage, echoing similarity to the Welsh saying ‘A nation without a language is a nation without a soul’. Do Welsh students share and feel the same pride towards their own language? And if not, why not??

What was clear was that the languages were not only taught as subjects but used in subject teaching, e.g. marketing, business etc., to ensure that the relevant context was provided as well as the language. Language is a tool of communication.

There were similarities in their immersion scheme for welcoming new-comers (immigrants) as part of their ‘Welcome’ project to our ESOL program at home. The difference was that they were immersed in Catalan and not Spanish, whilst we remain focused on teaching English to newcomers and don’t necessarily introduce Welsh.

We visited the traditional college classrooms where they taught marketing, business, information technology and languages, in each class we heard (in plain English) about the student experiences of learning and use of languages. To some extent our questions regarding language training were rather odd as it is such a normal part of education for them in Catalonia, as they speak three languages ​​as a natural part of their life at school / college as a direct result of wise and firm language legislation since 1983.

Over lunch in a small Italian restaurant we spoke some more with our host Maria and Olga from the college.

Following lunch Olga gave a presentation on the college education system including the curriculum delivery. The provision at this school includes compulsory education, vocational school, technical school and the provision of higher education all situated under one roof.

Echoes of messages from yesterday continued, with further focus on SMART specific labor market driven delivery that supported success for students in the long run. As part of this, the ability to use three languages in compulsory education and vocational education is evident.

Real life evidence of a system actively supporting multilingualism came from a  higher education information technology student whose mother tongue was Arabic, and had gone on to be trilingual and was now speaking five languages as a result of the education system that has embraced multilingualism. He felt privileged to be Catalan, as it was a country renowned for facilitating, promoting and implementing sound and innovative linguistic policies.

As we left college, some of us were overcome with a feeling of envy to live in such a country where people use languages (two and more) naturally throughout their daily activities, where they compliment and add to the nations sense of identity. As the KA1 Erasmus+ Catalonia group sing the Welsh national anthem to thank the hosts, the sense of pride for our country and language and our shared hope for a truly bilingual (multilingual) country returns. O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau. (May the old language continue to survive (and grow!) ……

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Erasmus+ Catalonia Diwrnod #2

Ar ôl noson dda o gwsg a brecwast blasus cerddodd y grŵp tuag at y Metro i gwrdd â Maria yn y ddinas. Roedd grŵp o 22 ymwelwyr ar drafnidiaeth gyhoeddus yn olygfa werth gweld. Ymweliad heddiw oedd i ysgol/coleg … Continue reading

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Erasmus+ Catalonia 2017 #ArloesiAB

Llun Blog #1Wel am ddiwrnod cyntaf i’r ymweliad yng Nghatalonia! Ar ôl crwydro strydoedd Barcelona ac ymgais aflwyddiannus i fynd ar y bws, derbynion ni gyfarwyddiadau i fynd ar y Metro. Dau drên ar y Metro’n ddiweddarach, cyrhaeddon ni ardal breswyl lle mae adeilad eithaf plaen y Llywodraeth (Department d’Ensenyament) yn cuddio y tu ôl i gyfoeth o goed palmwydd a deiliant bendigedig.

 Cafwyd croeso cynnes iawn gan Maria Pascual sy’n gyfrifol am ein hymweliad drwy’r wythnos. Mae Maria’n gweithio i’r Llywodraeth a hefyd yn dysgu, gelwir y rôl yma yn ‘Gynghorwyr Technegol’. Yn ystod ei chyflwyniad egnïol a difyr, dysgon ni fod gan Gatalonia system addysg alwedigaethol ddeuol (Dual System) lle mae myfyrwyr yn derbyn eu haddysg drwy dreulio cyfnod o amser yn y Coleg a chyfnodau hir mewn sefydliad gwaith. Mae’r system yn un eithaf newydd ac maen nhw wedi cynyddu nifer y myfyrwyr ar gyrsiau o’r fath o 590 yn ystod 2012-13 i 7809 yn 2016-17. Mae’r cwmnïau sy’n cynnig y profiad gwaith yn cael eu hasesu gan y Llywodraeth i sicrhau eu bod yn addas ac o safon uchel i ddarparu’r SGILIAU a’r IAITH (gweithredu drwy’r Gatalaneg) i’r myfyrwyr. Darperir addysg drwy gyfrwng y Gatalaneg yn y colegau ac felly mae ganddynt bwyslais ar ddysgu ieithoedd tramor (Saesneg, Ffrangeg ac Almaeneg) er mwyn paratoi unigolion ar gyfer byd gwaith byd-eang a chystadleuol.

 Mae 7.5 miliwn o bobl yn byw yng Nghatalonia gyda 10 miliwn yn siarad yr iaith ar draws y byd. Nodwyd nad bod yn iaith leiafrifol yw’r broblem ond yn hytrach, y ffaith bod yr iaith yn cael ei ymyleiddio gan nad oes ganddi statws swyddogol.

 Diddorol iawn oedd clywed bod y gallu i gyfathrebu drwy gyfrwng y Sbaeneg yn cael ei gymryd yn ganiataol ac felly does dim angen rhoi pwyslais ar ddysgu’r iaith hon i’r myfyrwyr (gan ei fod yn cael ei ddysgu fel pwnc drwy’r addysg orfodol – 6 – 16 oed). Mae Sbaeneg yn iaith fwyafrifol ac felly’n naturiol mae plant a phobl ifanc yn cael eu trochi ynddi. Rhoddir y pwyslais, felly ar y Gatalaneg ac ieithoedd tramor eraill.

 “The power of the Spanish language is huge in comparison to the Catalan language… so the power of the Spanish language is obvious… the language that we have to protect is still Catalan because many people who don’t have Catalan as the home language, the only place they can learn Catalan is in school” (Monica Pereña Perez, Swyddfeydd Llywodraeth Catalonia, Barcelona, 9 Mai 2017)

 At hynny, mae gan y Llywodraeth bolisi fod raid i unigolion sy’n dymuno bod yn weision sifil ac yn athrawon (ar bob lefel) yn y system addysg gyhoeddus hyfedredd lefel C1 o’r iaith Gatalaneg. Felly, os nad ydynt yn gallu dangos y sgiliau hynny ar y fframwaith ieithyddol Ewropeaidd, yna does dim modd iddynt fedru gweithio yn y rhan fwyaf o’r sector gyhoeddus. Rhoddir pwyslais sylweddol ar hyfforddi athrawon i allu cyflwyno’u pynciau drwy gyfrwng y Gatalaneg ac i arbenigo’n llwyr gyda’r wybodaeth alwedigaethol ddiweddaraf yn eu meysydd pwnc. Mae athrawon hefyd yn derbyn cefnogaeth ar gyflwyno pwnc arbenigol (e.e. mathemateg) drwy ddulliau dysgu ail-iaith er mwyn gallu diwallu’r ystod o anghenion ieithyddol yn y dosbarth a thrwy ddefnyddio’r iaith Gatalaneg yn unig. Cafwyd y teimlad llwyr o flaengarwch ac arloesedd wrth osod polisïau ieithyddol cadarn sy’n rhoi’r Gatalaneg gyntaf ac sy’n ymwreiddio i holl bolisïau’r Llywodraeth.

 Mae’r Llywodraeth yn pwysleisio diwydiannau lleol a’n cynllunio’r cwricwlwm i adlewyrchu anghenion cymdeithasol diwydiannol a thechnolegol. Rhan ganolog o’r cynllunio hyn yw darparu’r addysg drwy gyfrwng y Gatalaneg a chyflwyno ieithoedd tramor eraill.

 Cafwyd cinio blasus yn ffreutur y Llywodraeth lle roedd trafodaethau a sgyrsiau brwd am yr hyn a glywyd yn ystod y bore. Cafwyd lot fawr i gnoi cil arno ac roedd cymariaethau’n cael ei wneud, yn naturiol, a’r hyn sy’n digwydd yng Nghymru gan greu ymdeimlad nad ydym, efallai, yn derbyn arweiniad polisi a gwleidyddol ddigon cryf.

Ar ôl cinio, ymwelon ni ag Ysgol Alwedigaethol sy’n arbenigo mewn pum maes cwricwlwm (diwydiannau masnach ryngwladol, trafnidiaeth a logisteg, marchnata, cynorthwywyr gwerthiant ac optegwyr), Institut Joan Brossa yn ninas Barcelona. Mae’r ysgol yn cynnig darpariaeth sy’n cael ei dargedu’n benodol a’n cael ei arwain gan Tatiana Soler Pastor a roddodd cyflwyniad arbennig i’r grŵp. Mae Tatiana’n cydlynu’r ddarpariaeth alwedigaethol yn yr ysgol ond hefyd yn dysgu ym meysydd masnach, marchnata a gwerthiant. Roedd hi’n siarad am ei methodoleg benodol o ddysgu mewn gwahanol ieithoedd gan gynnwys Catalaneg, Sbaeneg a Saesneg. Diddorol iawn oedd clywed am y pwyslais ar sgiliau Catalaneg gan gyflogwyr ac felly mae’n rhaid i’r myfyrwyr ddatblygu iaith Gatalaneg a Saesneg technegol sy’n benodol i’w maes. Mae gan yr iaith Gatalaneg fri ymysg cyflogwyr sy’n gosod statws ac sy’n annog dysgwyr i barhau i ddatblygu eu sgiliau. Cafwyd cyflwyniad ac ymweliad i ystafelloedd dosbarth/lab optegydd a datblygwyd perthnasau rhwng unigolion o Gymru a’r athrawon yn yr ysgol, dyma’r budd anferthol o brosiectau Erasmus

Amlinellwyd ieithoedd fel offeryn i gynorthwyo’r broses dysgu sy’n cefnogi’r tiwtor a’r dysgwr i ddod yn arbenigwyr yn eu maes. Mae amlieithrwydd yn rhan annatod a naturiol o’r ddarpariaeth alwedigaethol sy’n teimlo mor wahanol i’r hyn sy’n digwydd yng Nghymru lle rydym, efallai, yn rhoi gormod o bwyslais ar yr elfennau technegol o’r iaith Gymraeg (yn enwedig y gramadeg!).

 Diwrnod cyntaf hynod o fuddiol a diddorol, er ychydig yn hir! Mae’r grŵp yn edrych ymlaen at ymlacio heno cyn dechrau arni eto bore fory gydag ymweliad i Institut Carles Vallbona.

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Erasmus+ Catalonia 2017 – #FEInnovate

Llun Blog #1Well what a first day on our Catalonia visit! After wandering the streets of Barcelona and a failed attempt at getting the bus, we received directions for the Metro. Two Metro train rides later, we arrived in a residential area which houses the plain looking government building surrounded by lovely palm trees and foliage.

 We received a warm welcome from Maria Pascual who’s responsible for our visit throughout the week. Maria is a government officer as well as a teacher, a role known as a ‘Technical Assistant’. During her energetic and passionate presentation we learned that Catalonia has a dual vocational education system where students receive their education by spending a period of time in a School/College and a period of time with an employer. The system is relatively new and they’ve successfully increased the number of students following such a system from 590 during 2012-13 to 7809 in 2016-17. The companies who provide the work experience are assessed by the government to ensure that they are suitable and of a high standard to provide the students with the SKILL and LANGUAGE that they need to succeed. The education is provided through the medium of Catalan and there is an emphasis on learning foreign languages (English, French, German) in order to prepare individuals for a global and competitive labour market.

7.5 million people live in Catalonia with 10 million Catalan speakers worldwide. It was noted that it is not the minority status of the language that is problematic, rather the marginalising of the language as it does not have official status, unlike in Wales.

 It was very interesting to learn that the ability to communicate in Spanish is taken for granted and therefore there is not a need to concentrate on the Spanish language in VET (as it is taught as a subject through compulsory education, 6-16 years). Spanish remains the dominant language and it is naturally accepted that children and young people are immersed in the language outside of education. The emphasis is therefore placed on Catalan and other foreign languages.

 “The power of the Spanish language is huge in comparison to the Catalan language… so the power of the Spanish language is obvious… the language that we have to protect is still Catalan because many people who don’t have Catalan as the home language, the only place they can learn Catalan is in school” (Monica Pereña Perez, Swyddfeydd Llywodraeth Catalonia, Barcelona, 9 Mai 2017)

 The government also have a policy that individuals who wish to be civil servants and teachers (on all levels) in the education system must have a fluency level of C1 in Catalan. So, if they can’t reach this level of fluency on the European Language Framework, then they cannot work in the public sector. A significant emphasis is placed on teacher training in order to up-skill them in delivering their specialist subjects through the medium of Catalan and to specialise completely in their vocational areas. Teachers also receive support in delivering specialist subjects (e.g. maths) via second-language teaching methods in order to respond to the range of linguistic needs across the class and through using only Catalan. There was a feeling of being progressive and innovative in their definite linguistic policies that places Catalan as a priority and is embeded across the range of Government policies.

 The Government emphasises the importance of local industries and designs the curriculum to reflect social, industrial and technological needs. The central part of the plan is to provide education in Catalan and introduce other foreign languages.

This was followed by a delicious lunch in the cafeteria where we eagerly discussed and debated what was heard during the morning. There was a lot of food for thought and comparisons were made, naturally, with what is happening in Wales and it created a sense that we don’t have a clear linguistic policy.

After lunch, we went to a Vocational School specialising in five areas of the curriculum (international trade industries, transport and logistics, marketing, sales assistants and opticians), Institut Joan Brossa in the city of Barcelona. The school offers a provision that is specifically targeted and is led by Tatiana Soler Pastor who gave a special presentation to the group. Tatiana coordinates vocational provision at the school but also teaches in the fields of commerce, marketing and sales. She talked about her specific methodology of teaching in different languages ​​including Catalan, Spanish and English. It was very interesting to hear from Tatiana about the demand for Catalan language skills amongst employers. Students must develop Catalan and English language skills in their technical field. The Catalan language has prestige among employers who place status on these skills that encourages learners to continue developing their linguistic ability. There was a presentation and a visit to an optometry classroom / lab and relationships were formed between individuals from Wales and the teachers at the school, which is one enormous benefit of Erasmus+ projects.

It was noted that language is a tool to aid learning and support tutors and learners to become experts in their fields. Multilingualism is an integral and natural part of vocational provision that feels very different from what happens in Wales where we may put too much emphasis on the technical elements of language (especially the grammar!). 

Our first day has been extremely useful and interesting, though a bit long! The group is looking forward to a relaxing evening before starting again tomorrow morning with a visit to Institut Carles Vallbona.

Gracies.

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Visit to Centre of Excellence – Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing (AMTEC)

We had a great start to our final day in Seattle, Mary Kaye Bredeson, the Executive Director for the Centre of Excellence, had not only organised a breakfast for us at AMTEC, but had made homemade sticky buns with pecan and caramel sauce!

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They were absolutely delicious and made even more delicious by the fact that Mary Kaye, was the first ever female law enforcement office in Snohomish County in 1978. Mary Kaye, we found out, is an amazing pioneer, not only in law enforcement but also in her role as Executive Director at AMTEC.  She has been leading the way in the development of aviation training becoming an excellent female role model (yet another inspirational person we met during our visit to Seattle).The AMTEC centre is one of ten centres of excellence in the state and is hosted at Everett Community College however, is a resource for all 34 state community colleges. As with all 10 state Centres of Excellence, funding relies heavily on outside support from state grants, federal grants and industry.

Workforce Development, Chief Executive Officer, Erin Monroe reinforced that “ Seattle is becoming people of engineers and people who make coffee “ and highlighted the range of activities workforce development engage in, in order to reduce  this scenario and provide greater opportunities to develop higher level skills .  She also outlined the range of initiatives to tackle unemployment rates and to increase the skills levels of NEETS in particular. Washington State appears again, to face similar scenario to Wales.  Success according to Erin, has been achieved through increased partnership working, improved career focussed education in schools, getting employers on board, working with colleges to develop training programmes and then going to the communities to deliver this training.

After a final goodbye and a very fun filled taxi trip cutesy of Andrew Cornish’s music selection, we ventured to our last visit: the Museum of Flight – a real treat to end our Seattle visit!

We not only learned about the educational programmes, the high school delivery but also we were able to fly a flight a simulated landing to Cardiff airport (oops, I did accidently land on our I CAT building!) . We also got to see some fantastic exhibits and walk on Concorde and Air Force One!

The Museum of Flight is 54 years old and hosts a range of exhibits including the Apollo 11 Rocket, first plane ever created, dark start drones, Boeing and the grey drone that saved Captain Phillips. We also learned about the Challenge learning Centre, a fantastic place to motivate young people and encourage them into aerospace and engineering.  A replica of a space ship control centre, is used to send students on space missions have sleep overs and cope with emergency scenarios, using their team work and problem solving skills. It emulates constructivist theory of education and shows how students develop skills through problems, projects and research.

Aerospace education Centre is an education hub in the museum and has programmes from 8th grade and above whereby, children develop safety skills and plan a flight! They obtain high school credits and some pilot skills as a result- a really exciting way to engage young people! Programmes developed with Boeing are also used to attract women, people of colour and young people from deprived areas into the industry.

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Finally we spoke to Riba Gill, Vice President of Education. She informed us of the unique high school provision developed next to the Museum of Flight illustrating her 10 year struggle to get employers and investment of 56 million to secure the development. She wanted to develop a school that had a strong technical and academic rigour with really tangible engagement with the aerospace industry and has succeeded! She wanted the all-important ‘soft skills’ to be taught and embedded in every class and learning built around project based research and development. Integral to this, are the ‘high stakes’, whereby learners have to present their research and problem solving ability to industry experts. Key features of the high school are that every student has a mentor and an internship (Previously, Boeing didn’t take interns but now takes 17 annually). The internship is an in-depth seven week process which students have to apply for.

Success is evident, with 425 learners per year from age 16 progressing onto programme and a graduate rate of 98%. In comparison to UTCs in England, the success of this programme seems to rely on the involvement of industry. Industry members are instrumental in curriculum development and form a strategic board and thus have an invested interest in the schools’ success. James Reddreck, one of the most eminent aerodynamicists in the world, contributed 3 million pounds to to have the school named after him, and as a result helped provide additional partners to ensure continued investment.

Wow, as you can read, a full on, informative and fun packed day illustrating that Engineering, manufacturing and aerospace are not only excellent and rewarding career choices but also fun, interesting and engaging subject matters.

Photo 4 The industry offers far more to female learners than females anticipate and people like Mary Kaye and Riba are inspirational role models that breakdown traditional stereotypes. On reflection, in Wales, we need to ensure we improve career guidance and increase opportunities to expose students/children from a young age to the exciting opportunities that exist within the engineering industry and the vast number of career opportunities it offers. We also need to focus on employing more enthusiastic teachers and role models who can engage and inspire and be responsive to employer needs.

Photo 3 I have also seen that project based learning and the development of industry skills appears to be an effective teaching tool that we need more of, and mutually beneficial partnerships between industry and education is paramount. The magic ingredient in all the cases seems to be that one to one relationship established between liked minded people! Many of the organisations we have visited suggested it has been the meetings of minds between individuals and a ‘can do attitude’ that is instrumental in transforming the development of technical skills.

So in Wales, we need to establish good personal relationships with employers, also, be fierce, tenacious and don’t give in!  We must aim for the moon and we might well reach the stars! Seattle has!

 

 

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