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8 - 11 November 2013, Paris (France)

The 6th Bilium Partners Meeting took place in Paris on the 10th November 2013.

A total of 6 meetings have been held to date:

  1. In Germany, at the University of Greifswald
  2. In Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in the offices of the RusSchool organisation
  3. In Gothenburg, Sweden, at the premises of the Russo-Swedish Cultural Association>
  4. In Vienna, Austria, in the offices of the Weltsprachen Institute
  5. In the United Kingdom, at the London School of Russian Language and Literature
  6. In Paris, France, at the premises of the Union des Russophonies>

In attendance at the meeting were:
Irina Krivova and Nedezhda Golizdra (France), Olga Bramley and Maria Zheleznikova (United Kingdom), Olga Sterensis and Grigori Pasternak (the Netherlands), Inna and Anna Khromova (Sweden), Elena Denisova-Schmidt and Alexander Schmidt (Switzerland).

1. Discussion of a letter from the National Agency of France to our French partners - commentaries on the progress of the project

Irina Krivova:

There is a need for:
a) appointing an evaluator
b) creating 3 working groups

The participants of the meeting expressed their regret that the project coordinator was not present.

In the event that groups cannot be formed in accordance with the application, it was proposed that the following groups are formed instead:

  1. UK, France, Sweden - to work with bilingual children in schools
  2. Switzerland is to create a project group in agreement with E. Koudrjavtseva
  3. Netherlands - an administrative group for disseminating information, checking websites, facebook groups, and monitoring the progress of the projects

The project coordinator will need to be consulted in respect of the project evaluator. Who exactly is this meant to be?

2. Results of the first year into the project

  • Each country has carried out research into the situation regarding the teaching of bilingual children in the respective countries. Materials for this were taken from the media, scientific and published research works, and also legislation. This research was translated into English, mainly by the partners themselves and in part also by the London School of Russian Language and Literature. The material was also edited by the London School, including the material of the associated partners. All translations have been included in the printed brochure, of which the layout and typesetting were done in the UK, and the printing has been proposed to be carried out in Prague.
  • The participants of the meeting were all agreed that each country should receive a minimum of 25 copies of the published brochure (distribution is only via the official partner of the project). The partners will ask the project coordinator, Ekaterina Koudrjavtseva, for an estimate of the costs of the brochure, and also for documents relating to the conditions of publication, so that a final joint decision may be taken. (I. Khromova advised that there had been a proposal from Sweden to publish the brochure free of charge, but this had not been realised.)
  • It was decided by the participants of the meeting that once the final costs for the brochure are agreed, if the printing costs are not paid by a third party (e.g. Rossotrudnichestvo) then they will need to be met by the partners themselves, except for the UK.
  • A decision on the logos for the brochure was agreed unanimously: logos of all the official partners, along with the name of the organisations, are to be included in all printed matter.

3. Discussion of the concept of the programme of further training for teaching staff at pre-school educational institutions

There followed a discussion by the partners of the project on the concept document “A comprehensive approach to teaching bilingual children language in bilingual pre-school educational institutions (PEIs) in the European Union”.

This document was first presented to the partners at the meeting in Gothenburg in a report by the project coordinator. In discussing the proposed materials, the partners proposed to complete the concept in such a way that it reflected real, practical experience of working with bilingual children.

At the following meeting in Austria, the project coordinator presented a sample questionnaire for teachers working with bilingual children. During the discussion, the partners made suggestions for simplifying the questions and making them more specific. At the meeting in London the teaching staff (focus group) of the London School of Russian Language and Literature (LSRLL) made concrete proposals for the structuring and contents of the concept of the programme of further training courses and for the methodology of working with bilinguals (see the documentary film of the seminar and minutes of the meeting).

In the UK, the LSRLL conducted oral surveys on 16 teachers, in accordance with the concept. 16 teachers were similarly surveyed in Sweden.

Just before the meeting in Paris, the English version of the concept, in its present state of development, was edited by the LSRLL (George Bramley), and distributed to all partners. Olga Bramley commended the project coordinator, Ekaterina Koudrjavtseva, for the huge amount of work that she had put into compiling the programme’s concept.

Proposals by the participants during the discussion:

  1. To reduce the terms used in the project to a common denominator.
  2. To make amendments to the age groupings in the conception. In some places, the age group 1.5 to 5 years is given, but in others from 1 to 6 years.
  3. The decision was taken by all participants to continue the work on clarifying which institutions in the partner countries provide teacher training for PEI staff. The partners agreed to take the necessary steps. As far as the techniques for introducing our concept into their further training programmes were concerned, the partners were of the opinion that they were not adequate for this purpose, but would take steps to disseminate the concept in their countries. (Inna Khromova reported that she had been in touch with a university offering these courses and had received the information required.)
  4. The variable part of the concept was presented. The proposal was accepted to carry out a survey among the teachers’ colleagues and other teaching staff in our centres, and to collect their suggestions and wishes with regard to the contents of the programme of further training courses.
  5. During the course of the meeting, the partners exchanged their experiences of working on the socio-psychological aspects of bilinguals, as well as methodology and visual aids for teaching Russian - and in speech therapy with teachers of the “Galactica” (Boulogne) and “Azbuka” (Courbevoie) Schools.
  6. Elena Denisova-Schmidt proposed that George Bramley should be declared Science Editor of the first module. All agreed to the proposal.
  7. It was agreed to continue working on the concept at the next meeting, planned for the first week of April 2014.

All decisions were agreed unanimously.

The organisers of the meeting in Paris were thanked by everyone. There had been a full programme, which was very informative - the partners visited a supplementary education school - “Alye Parusa” (in Paris), and were introduced to the school’s teaching methods and practices. As part of the cultural programme, the partners visited the Embassy of the Russian Federation and were invited to the “Russian Word, Russian Soul” festival.