Supporting advanced French language and bilingual Francophone education is one of the priorities of the French Embassy in Lithuania. In 2001, the Institute initiated a project for bilingual Francophone classrooms, and in 2017, a bilateral partnership between the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the French Institute in Lithuania initiated the “Charter of the Francophone Quality Label” (QF). The requirements of the programme are based on the criteria of the international LabelFrancEducation label. The programme brings together the 7 Francophone Quality Label schools already accredited in Lithuania and encourages other institutions that provide integrated French language education to join the charter.
On 30 March, the annual QF Charter Schools National Conference “Francophone Education in Virtual Reality” was held, sponsored by the French Institute in Lithuania. The conference, which is part of the national Francophonie Month programme and aimed at the administrative and teaching teams of the 7 charter schools in the network, attracted 60 participants. It was organised by Kaunas Jurgis Dobkevičius QF Mark Progymnasium in cooperation with Kaunas Teacher Qualification Centre.
The aim of the conference is to increase the dissemination of the French language and Francophone culture in Lithuania, to strengthen the network of QF schools, to bring together French teachers and to encourage the exchange of experiences.
In the first practical part of the conference “Sharing our experience”, Kaunas Jurgis Dobkevičius Progymnasium brought together 7 educational institutions with the QF label in Lithuania – Alytus Dzūkija School, Klaipėda Akuros, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Radviliškis Lizdeika Gymnasium, Teams of heads and French teachers from Vilnius Jonas Basanavičius, Vilnius Martynas Mažvydas and Kaunas Jurgis Dobkevičius progymnasiums reviewed the quality, didactic and managerial issues of French language education, shared their experience of remote or mixed work and examples of successful lessons.
In the second part of the conference, we invited you to reflect together on new ways of working and the development of bilingual French-speaking education in the current context. The session was opened with a word of welcome by the Ambassador of France in Lithuania, Mrs. Lignières-Counathewhich stressed that bilingual education must be distinct from other forms of education, not different but reasonably better, and must take into account the development of other skills, not only teaching in another language but also teaching in a different way, which in particular allows the development of transversal competences. The Ambassador recalled the importance of French in the lives of today’s young people: not only is it a global cultural language, it is also crucial for the successful integration of young people into the labour market.
Ms Loreta Žadeikaitė, Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania, expressed her very positive impressions of the QF schools’ experience. She assured that in Lithuania, the school did not stop during the pandemic, but was able to adapt and change. She invited representatives of QF Charter Schools to pass on their achievements to other Lithuanian schools offering French as a language option to join the network. She stressed the importance of regular sharing and growth: to achieve the QF Charter Label and LabelFrancEducation. She proposed to expand the partnership to include universities offering teacher training programmes, researchers from Vytautas Magnus University, the VMU University Centre for Francophone Countries, and the VMU Academy of Education, so that more teachers of non-language subjects choose French. According to her, it is essential to have even more intensive and closer cooperation than before, which is now facilitated by various digital technologies.
Later, Ms Vilija Sipaitė, a specialist from the MoLMS, informed the participants about the change in the coordination of the QF Charter Network. She announced that the new coordinator of the QF Charter is Ms Danguolė Povilaitienė, a specialist from the National Education Agency. The NMSM specialist outlined the vision for the development of the QF Charter: the 7 current institutions are learning together and sharing their experiences, they are already creating a community where each school is unique and finds its own innovative forms of bilingual education, and where there is a strong leadership in these institutions. The representative invited us to meet in a few weeks to discuss the concrete actions that teams will need to take in the near future on the QF network. She outlined the MoEYS guidelines for the Network for 2021-2022:
– Cooperation between QF schools,
– Working with QF Charter partners,
– Cooperation with universities, especially Vytautas Magnus University and its Academy of Education,
– Cooperation with other bilingual francophone schools in Europe.
In their presentations at the conference, principals and vice-principals of QF charter schools outlined the situation of francophone education in their schools: the impact on pupils, the reality before the quarantine and during the pandemic, the experience and the prospects. A French language and history teacher at LSMU Gymnasium gave an overview of the LabelFrancEducation programme and the challenges and benefits of its implementation.
Experts from the French Language Department of the French Centre for International Education also participated in the conference. Pierre-Yves Roux, Head of the Centre’s Expertise and Projects Unit, shared best practices in integrated bilingual distance learning, while Veronique Boisseaux, a specialist in the field, gave an in-depth presentation on the Le Fill Plurilingue platform for integrated language and subject teaching. This conference was a great opportunity to hear the latest news and resources on French-speaking bilingual education in Europe and even worldwide:
- In your speech Pierre-Yves ROUX, Head of the Expertise and Projects Unit of the International Centre for Educational Studies of France Education International, spoke about the convergence of good practices in distance education in bilingual classrooms: the global situation caused by the pandemic has only accelerated the reflection on distance education, whether blended or purely distance, synchronous or asynchronous, that was already underway and that needed to be generalised. The experiences and findings gathered from different countries and the contexts presented show that these training solutions are to be respected for efficiency and attractiveness, whether it is the start of the construction of the methodologies, the organisational planning, or the deployment and implementation.
- Véronique BOISSEAUX, Expertise and Projects Specialist at France Education International’s International Centre for Educational Studies and coordinator of the Fil Plurilingue platform, gave a detailed presentation of this special platform for integrated language and subject teaching methodology. Le Fil plurilingue is a website that develops and makes available high quality teaching and methodological resources for integrated bilingual education around the world, free of charge and without any additional conditions for educators. The platform offers both methodological material and practical exercises and solutions for teachers of non-native speakers of French, as well as tools, infographics and arguments for promoting and justifying the value of integrated bilingual education, available in other languages.
The reflections and conclusions of the conference provided impressions and ideas for developing inter-institutional cooperation to improve the quality of Francophone education, the dissemination of experiences, measures to motivate and stimulate students, the training, attraction and recruitment of teachers, the enrichment of valuable learning environments, and the testing of digital platforms (IFprofs and Le Fil Plurilingue).
Thank you to the conference partners and sponsors: The French Institute in Lithuania, Kaunas Pedagogical Qualification Centre, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports of the Republic of Lithuania and Kaunas City Municipality.
Welcome to the Conference: link HERE
YouTube recording of the conference (without translation):
Part I – link HERE
Part II – link HERE