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European Innovative Teaching Award
Project

English for Hospitality

School: Colegiul Economic “Dimitrie Cantemir”

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Topic(s) addressed

The project aimed to support teachers and programme coordinators in the creation, growth, and implementation of CLIL programmes in vocational education. Given that only 30% of partner schools’ students were successful in joining the job market after their studies, the project focused on the growth of students’ professional placement and the improvement of their career prospects by improving their English language communication skills in tourism and gastronomy. The project’s objectives were to promote creativity and innovation in the learning of specialised fields such as tourism and gastronomy in English; to evaluate the effectiveness of learning approaches in tourism and gastronomy (in English) towards improving students’ communication and thinking skills – thus preparing them to join the international (European) labour market; to create and investigate various CLIL models, identify problems with regard to CLIL implementation in tourism and gastronomy classes, and suggest solutions for the development of appropriate teaching materials; to improve teachers' CLIL pedagogy by innovating, sharing, discussing, and comparing methodologies being used so as to prepare students for project activities; and, to provide a European dimension to students’ curriculum and everyday classroom practices.

Target groups

The project’s target groups consisted of 20 secondary English schoolteachers who specialised in tourism and gastronomy, 25 teachers of specialised subjects, and 480 students of tourism and gastronomy between the ages of 15-19 who were in their first three years of study. All of the aforementioned groups were directly involved in the project’s activities throughout its 2-year implementation, with partnerships carried out among 6 schools from across the 6 European partner countries of Romania, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Croatia, and Turkey. Several considerations were taken into account in the selection of student participants, who consisted of students with learning difficulties, those from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, those from rural regions, and students who lived alone because their parents worked abroad. The last group in particular faced a number of challenges with regard to their access to information of opportunities available on the job market. Furthermore, given that most student participants lacked financial resources, the funding granted by the project allowed them to experience living and learning in other European countries – an opportunity that would otherwise not have been accessible to them.  

Methodologies

There are radical differences among European technological high schools with regard to their interpretation and implementation of integrated learning content for various subjects and foreign language education – with such differences also noted in the number of curricular hours. Prior to the project’s implementation, the methodological approach used in the classroom teaching of the proposed topic, as well as the integration of content from across various disciplines into the fields of tourism and gastronomy, had both yet to be experienced by any of the project’s partners. Consequently, all project partners were eager to experience CLIL, given that the approach had been identified by the European Commission as being vital to the preparation of students in meeting the challenges of the international labour market in the fields of tourism and gastronomy. The project was particularly innovative as it provided students with the opportunity to immediately apply their English language skills in specific workplace situations as well as during the implementation of tasks and activities at school, instead of a language teaching approach that only anticipated future use of the learnt language. The CLIL approach introduced students to wider cultural contexts, prepared them for the internationalisation process, facilitated the school’s attainment of International Certification and Europass Mobility (thus enhancing its profile), improved students’ general and specific English language competences, prepared them to further their studies and/or working life, and enabled students to develop multilingual interests and attitudes. Teachers on the other hand, benefitted from the approach as it allowed them to diversify their classroom teaching and learning methods, which further increased learner motivation. The approach was also particularly innovative as it enabled teachers to overcome primary obstacles in the implementation of CLIL in tourism and gastronomy lessons. A substantial amount of conscious learning is required within monolingual contexts, which demands a certain skill set from both teachers and students. The CLIL approach however is based on language acquisition, and as most students who majored in tourism and gastronomy only had a weak command of the English language, the application of a language-oriented approach such as CLIL allows for an emphasis on vocabulary that is directly relevant to their fields of study. Furthermore, because English language textbooks proved to be a linguistic challenge for students, teachers wrote and adapted their own materials to not only teach students key tourism and gastronomy related vocabulary, but to also develop their language skills, so students would be able to utilise ‘real’ English textbooks by their last year of school. To that end, teachers who participated in the project had created and investigated various CLIL implementation models that could be used in online or blended learning, identified issues with regard to CLIL implementation in tourism and gastronomy classes, and developed appropriate teaching materials towards imbuing both the curriculum and everyday classroom environment with a European dimension. The project resulted in a number of outputs, including a training curriculum titled "English for Tourism and Gastronomy Industry," which includes best practices in English; 102 WebQuest lessons (an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most, or all, of the information learners use are drawn from the Web); modern pedagogical considerations that were adapted for tourism and gastronomy classes; and, the EN4HOSTS Multimedia, which consists of 131 CLIL recorded lessons that were posted on the project’s YouTube channel.

Environments

Changes brought about by the new era have redefined the teaching and learning of English in the 21st century, with technological and collaborative learning, inquiry-based learning, content and language integration, and digital/blended learning being but a few examples of such change. According to the European Commission, CLIL was identified to be particularly valuable because "It can provide effective opportunities for pupils to use their new language skills now, rather than learn them now for use later. It opens doors on languages for a broader range of learners, nurturing self-confidence in young learners and those who have not responded well to formal language instruction in general education.” The project strongly emphasised making an impact on the local community (restaurants, hotels, travel agencies, tourists) so that as future employees, students would be able to put into practice their acquired economic competencies and professional English language communication skills within a European context. Moreover, as part of the project’s dissemination strategy, best practices were exchanged during the two school years between a significant number of teachers and students from local vocational schools with tourism and gastronomy specialists from the project’s partner countries. As such, the project’s target audiences (restaurants, managers and employees of hotels and travel agencies, tourists) were involved in a number of activities such as market research to establish tourist satisfaction, the preparation of questionnaires, and communication initiatives with tourists – all of which had to be carried out among local communities throughout the project’s duration by each student team. A large number of audiences was reached through various presentations, as well as through the dissemination of materials such as magazines, newsletters, local media outlets, and via content posted on social media sites, the project’s website, and the websites of each partner school, with said schools also utilising their own regional network in reaching out to a broader audience. The project’s primary intellectual output, the Training Curriculum, was made available at the international conference ‘Gateway to CLIL,’ with attendees consisting of 95 individuals from Romania and other parts of Europe. Moreover, the ‘Training Curriculum,’ WebQuest lessons, and the 131 CLIL video lessons (complete with lesson plans) are freely available as open educational resources on the Internet, taking the form of openly licensed documents and media (YouTube video lessons) that are accessible by teachers of gastronomy and English for teaching, learning, and assessment (of digital/blended learning) purposes, as well as for research-based activities. All teacher-training programmes and materials that were created during the project provided invaluable practical guidelines on the planning and teaching of CLIL lessons in tourism and gastronomy, as well as in the promotion of digital and blended learning. Through the use of the aforementioned materials, students learnt to speak English and to work in multinational, real-life situations, with the hands-on approach of CLIL activities having reinforced acquired vocabulary and helping them develop their language skills while deepening their comprehension of various topics. Moreover, students were exposed to the use of language in real-life situations through the project’s activities, as well as during digital learning (WebQuest lessons), group discussions, individual presentations, role-play, cooking sessions, team projects, and within the traditional classroom environment. With regard to their language skills, 75% of students who were involved in the project progressed either from A1 or A2 level English proficiency to B2, as evidenced in test results at the conclusion of the project, which confirmed that the project’s approach of building on other forms of learning provided a natural path to language learning.  

Teachers

In addition to having coordinated students in the design of their Europass CV and Language Passports, a number of intellectual and project outputs were developed by English, tourism, and gastronomy teachers from each partner school, consisting of the project’s website, a training curriculum, a YouTube channel with CLIL video lessons (from the mobilities’ and project’s activities), the design of WebQuest lessons, and the eTwinning project corner. Romanian teachers of tourism, gastronomy, and English organised an international dissemination conference, during which innovative best practices and outputs (relating to the training of tourism and gastronomy students) were presented to students and teachers from various European and Romanian vocational high schools, as well as to managers and employees of the aforementioned sectors. The project improved teachers' CLIL pedagogy by allowing them to share, discuss, and compare methodologies that had been used in the preparation and adaptation of lessons in both the classroom and online teaching environments – particularly with regard to the insertion of a European dimension into their curriculum content, as well as everyday classroom practices. Moreover, teachers adjusted their teaching methodology to meet the project’s training needs, thus signalling a shift from a content-centred syllabus to one that was oriented towards learning situations, which was facilitated by their development and the use of WebQuest lessons during CLIL classes and mobility meetings. In addition to improving student training through the insertion of innovative European practices into the curriculum, teachers benefitted in the development of their professional skills through the creation of an open environment for formal, non-formal, and informal learning. Lastly, the project allowed teachers to develop their ICT skills, design and use WebQuest lessons, edit video lessons, and manage the project’s YouTube channel.

Impact

The project was designed so as to sustainably impact the curriculum for the fields of gastronomy and tourism, with its outcomes, including the training guide “English for Tourism and Gastronomy Industry,” CLIL lesson videos, lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations with detailed descriptions of partner countries’ landmarks, traditional recipes in English, and market research on tourist satisfaction, used as case studies in online lessons by teachers of tourism and gastronomy. The project’s outputs, such as the EN4HOSTS Multimedia YouTube channel, were highly appreciated by many regional and European vocational schools, as evidenced by the channel’s more than 12,036 views. Furthermore, as a result of the project, schools were able to develop the use of innovative ICT tools among their students and increase their digital competence and teamwork (such as through the use of WebQuest lessons in class); reinforce the links between formal education and the labour market; increase students’ academic profiles in a qualifications-oriented labour market; promote inter-school cooperation among our schools, as well as with local/global labour bodies; and, increase students’ competence in foreign languages – especially in Business English. The WebQuest lessons in particular promoted blended learning and the development of learner autonomy, while enhancing teamwork and communication skills among students. Teaching resources that were developed during the project’s lifetime are also found across partner schools’ libraries, in the EU Project Lab, and in schools’ food and beverage labs. These resources consist of the training curriculum with a brief description of each partner school’s education system and best practice examples, various CLIL implementation models for tourism and gastronomy classes, modern instruments for teaching and evaluation processes, and a DVD of the project that summarises its key aspects and outcomes. The aforementioned teaching resources may be assessed by interested individuals from other European vocational schools through the project’s website (http://english4hospitality.esy.es) or the project’s Erasmus+ platform. Teachers of Economics have begun using the project’s output as part of their distance-learning material for modules such as "Organisation of Culinary Production," "National and International Cuisine," "Promoting Culinary Production," "Specific Recipes," and "European Systems from Quality Assurance in Catering" in courses such as "Gastronomy Technician" and "Tourism Technician," all of which allow both teachers and students to obtain a comprehensive understanding of food standards set by the European Union, as well as familiarity of the differences and similarities between the various types of European cuisine. The project’s activities attracted the attention of several local tourism and gastronomy companies, some of which went on to employ the school’s graduates, with the local labour market benefitting from the introduction of well-trained employees (approximately 220 students from the blended mobilities and 260 students who participated in the project’s 2-year activities. Throughout the project’s lifetime, partner schools developed strong partnerships with the aim of offering more young students the opportunity to engage in practical, hands-on learning activities at the European level; as an added benefit, the profiles of specific departments such as Catering, Tourism and Gastronomy, English, and ICT were elevated. Romania, in organising the international dissemination conference that was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Suceava, successfully created a close link between the local work market, local authorities, and VET institutions, with representatives from 10 local businesses (tourism and restaurant managers) and 7 representatives from CJRAE, a university from Suceava (ISJ Suceava) having participated in the conference. Benefits that resulted from the project’s research component include adaptation of the school’s education approaches to online teaching, and enrichment of vocational schools’ curricula through the teaching of tourism and gastronomy in English; improvements to students’ employability and their skills through digital and blended learning; the sharing of innovative best practices in vocational education among schools; and, the sharing of best practices among 150 teachers who coordinate European projects, among whom are vocational teachers of tourism, gastronomy, and English. An additional 500 teachers benefitted from dissemination activities that were carried out during meetings held every semester, in competitions, peer-learning sessions, and in business meetings.

Stakeholders

Participants

EPAL Nafpaktou

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Greece

Esprominho - Escola Profissional do Minho

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Portugal

Halide Nusret Zorlutuna Mesleki ve Teknik Anadolu Lisesi

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Turkey

Istituto istruzione superiore Renato Guttuso Milazzo

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Italy

Turističko ugostiteljska škola

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Croatia