Global citizenship education may not always be top of mind when you are teaching your students. Integrating multilingual pedagogies might even slightly scare you off. Yet at some point you come to acknowledge that preparing your students for the world of tomorrow does require an awareness of global issues and an openness towards diversity of all sorts, including languages.
But where to start? What does teaching look like when you include GCE and multilingualism in class? Which values, attitudes, knowledge and skills (VAKS) are helpful to make this work? In the GCMC project, we have developed a self-reflective framework of good practice that can help you navigate your way into the world of global citizenship and multilingualism. It outlines the competences teachers are likely to need when they wish to integrate GCE and multilingual practices into their teaching of languages, social studies, geography, history or even natural sciences, to name a few subject areas.
The framework works with a model of values, attitudes, knowledge and skills, and enables teachers and teacher educators to reflect on their own competences and observe their progress as they become more aware and more skilled at teaching with GCE and multilingualism in mind.
The VAKS-framework consists of ten statements for each category (values, attitudes, knowledge and skills). We advise teachers and educators to do the self-assessment once before they start working with the learning and teaching materials and to come back to it regularly as they gain experience with GCE and multilingual pedagogies along the way. By self-assessing several times, they can track their progress and see where they can improve even more.
To be clear, the tool is not meant to impose on you what good teaching is and is not. This is not an exam and you do not fail if you cannot (yet) tick all the boxes. To begin with, no framework can be completely comprehensive, and moreover, every group of students and every school situation requires its specific approach and only you as a teacher can determine which approach works best. However, we do believe this framework will help you explore some core competences that are central to good practice in education.
Fortunately, many teachers around the world have been pioneering with integrating GCE and multilingual practices: we did not have to invent the wheel all by ourselves. To generate this framework, roughly a dozen interviews were conducted with teachers and teacher educators in the partner countries – dedicated and enthusiastic practitioners who already found ways to tap into all their pupils’ linguistic repertoires and connecting local and global issues to raise their awareness of climate change and biodiversity loss, make them critically reflect on social stereotypes and inspiring them to see themselves in classmates they previously may have considered to be the different ‘other’ – just to name a few results of what integrating GCE and multilingualism may bring.
A PDF version of the VAKS scheme can be downloaded here. It is available in eight languages – apart from English, Dutch, Frisian, German and Italian, the five main languages of the project, also translations in Indonesian, Serbian and Spanish are offered.
Alternatively, you can use the interactive version here (in English only). There, for each statement you can move the bar on a five-step-scale from ‘disagree’ via ‘neutral’ to ‘agree’. While completing the statements, your total score is automatically shown at the bottom of the page.
We hope the self-reflective tool will inspire you to implement multilingual practices and GCE in your daily teaching. Initially you may think this is something that is only useful in particularly multicultural groups of students, where it is obvious that students have very different backgrounds. Once you start working with GCE and experimenting with using different languages in class, you will be surprised how many students know other languages than the official one used in school – even if it’s only a few words in sports or a game they play.
However local or rural you might think your school is, forces of globalisation like the spread of information and goods and technology today affect even the remotest of places and communities, and in reverse, local choices have global consequences. So, in some way or another, we are all multilingual and we are all global citizens. Enjoy!