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The expert in the Spotlight feature gives you the chance to interact one-in-one with our Ask the expert-section. The feature also provides interesting and insightful comments regarding the field of European minority languages or regional languages, bilingualism and multilingualism at school and at home, education, language learning, language policy and cultural participation in favor of linguistic diversity in Europe, in-depth content and exclusive Q and As.
Featured Expert / Area of focus:
Gregor Mazo is project leader of DIVSKOUARN the organization in Brittany (France) that aims to promote and to develop Breton language in pre-school education. Divskouarn is also partner in the MELT-project (Multi Early Language Transmission).
What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages/education/multilingualism?
I am a Breton language speaker. I learnt it and it is now the language of my professional and family life. I am project leader of the DIVSKOUARN in Brittany (France), which is the organization that aims to promote and to develop Breton language in pre-school education (children aged 0-3 ). I work with staff in day care centers, childminders, and parents, helping them to improve the use of the Breton language during their work with the children.What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?
The major challenge for me is to better inform the parents about how important it is for their babies and toddlers to speak the Breton language as early as possible, in order to create a more obvious social demand. We also have to work on training the language skills and expertise of staff in childcare so that they can work with the children in Breton. For the moment it is not easy to find practitioners which are capable for this job.
What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?
The Multilingual Early Language Transmission (MELT) Project is a partnership between four language communities Breton in Brittany (France), the Frisian language in Friesland (The Netherlands), the Swedish language community in Finland, and the Welsh language in Wales. The Project is funded by the European Commission, and will run between 1 November 2009 and 31 October 2011.
Its aims are to:
identify best practice in language acquisition and immersion methodology
increase the skills of early years practitioners
provide young children with a strong educational foundation
provide information to parents on bilingualism
strengthen language communities and promote cultural and linguistic diversity.
How will the MELT project do this?
By researching the early years provision in the four language communities
By providing information to parents on the benefits of bilingual pre-school education
By developing a practical guide for early years practitioners
By employing an individual to work with practitioners and children in the four language communities
By holding a final conference in Brussels in October 2011.
Divskouarn, the Breton member of the MELT project, will send "mentors" into ten different day care centres five times a year to help the practitioners to implement good practices. More and more day care centers and childminders in Brittany are joining the network of Breton language child care provision. We have a charter including three different models : 1) at least one activity in Breton a week, 2) at least two practitioners working in the Breton language on a day-to-day basis with the children, 3) provisions through the medium of Breton (what we call immersion).
Are there any important references such as articles, links, etc. you would like to mention?
- Gammelard, Lillemor Language strategy for day care centres. Helsingfors: Svenska Kulturfonden=Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland, 2008. isbn 9789519211633 signature 100Swe16 (present in Library Mercator Research Centre)
Featured topics: Day care centres, pre-primary education and minority languages.
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