Supporting Bilingual Vocational Learning in the Basque Country
Day #2: findings of the delegation from Wales’ further education sector which is visiting the Basque Country in order to share good practice on bilingualism in the post-16 education and training sector.
Another early breakfast before visiting TKNIKA, a centre of innovation and teacher training in the post-16 sector, in the San Sebastian area, Basque Country. From the moment that we walked up the steps towards the entrance, it was obvious that this was an outstanding building with excellent resources. We were excited and pleased to see the screen in the reception which welcomed us in Welsh! What a warm welcome!
We went straight in to an interesting presentation about the development of digital vocational resources through the medium of Basque. We had the impression that the Basque further education sector is considered to be an essential sector to the economical development of the country and that the development of materials produced in the two official languages is a key importance. Through significant investment by the government, LANEKI have developed a specialised website that include hundreds of vocational materials through the medium of Basque – created especially for the further education sector. The website also includes a comprehensive Basque-Spanish dictionary and phrases/paragraphs from the translation memory which belongs to the translation company, ELHUYAR.
It’s important to note that excellent investment, collaboration, co-ordinating and sharing have enabled this sector to develop in an organised and structured manner. It’s very difficult to summarise this presentation to a short paragraph. Therefore, please remember to enquire about any sharing good practice events that we’ll organise upon our return.
A quick coffee before having a tour around TKNIKA’s classrooms and buildings. Well, what an eye opener as regards to the teaching staff’s training in the Basque Country’s vocational sector! Innovation in terms of teaching and learning methodologies as well as the layout of the classroom (or lab). The training of vocational educators involves experimenting with new and pioneering methods of teaching as well as receiving their own training through these methods. TKNIKA is an inspirational organisation and an obvious role model for the post-16 sector in Wales. Why not establish an innovation centre which provides qualifications for our own post-16 specialist educators? Would this not standardise all the learning experiences across the sector and endure that every FE lecturer receives linguistic training in some way?
The afternoon was spent with ELHUYAR, a Basque language technologies company, about 10 minutes down the road from TKNIKA. What is obvious here is that multilingualism and worldwide links have a central role in the development of Basque language technologies. ELHUYAR translates a lot of materials into the Basque language. Another aspect of their work is to create automatic translation websites, online specialist dictionaries and terminologies, e.g. www.automotivedictionary.net which includes 6 useful languages for the Basque economy.
ELHUYAR also offers language management services in the workplace to private companies. Initially the work began as Basque language plans for each individual company (which pays for this support). More recently the work has developed into multilingual plans because many of them operate internationally – and of course, the Basque language is one of them. According to ELHUYAR representatives these plans open doors to companies and organisations which would not otherwise promote the language.
By now we have so many things to consider. We need to ensure that we share these amazing messages which we have heard today. We have been inspired and motivated by all the pioneering practices today. Now looking forward to seeing post-16 learners at Tolosoldea tomorrow.
Thank you to the team #CymruBasg for jointly contributing to the blog, namely: Angharad Mai Roberts, Claire Roberts, Bryn Hughes Parry, Anna Fflur Davies, Branwen Thomas, Caren Efans, Osian Jones, Fflur Rees Jones, Helen Humphreys, Lowri Morgans.