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Susanna Pertot The language transmission goals of the Slovene minority schools in Italy: A reality check. Slovene Research Institute Trst / Trieste, Italy.

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Presentation on theme: "Susanna Pertot The language transmission goals of the Slovene minority schools in Italy: A reality check. Slovene Research Institute Trst / Trieste, Italy."— Presentation transcript:

1 Susanna Pertot The language transmission goals of the Slovene minority schools in Italy: A reality check. Slovene Research Institute Trst / Trieste, Italy Grmek / Grimacco (UD), Italy ZCZ/ATS JezikLingua

2 This study is a work in progress on the phenomenon of the increase of pupils with Slovene as L2 or FL in Slovene minority schools in Italy, linked to the intergeneration transmission of the Slovene language. Fragments of parents personal narratives, freely expressed during discussion groups and workshops, are used, along with quantitative research findings and opinions available in the media. Reference is made to some critical and poststructuralist theories (Hall, 1990; Anderson, 1991; Bourdieu, 1991) and paradigms, which consider identity as multidimensional, contingent and subject to negotiation across contexts (Hill, 1999; Lo, 1999; Blackledge in Pavlenko, 2001; Blackledge, 2004; Pavlenko, 2004; Kinginger, 2004). The study

3 In Friuli-Venezia Giulia, along the border between Italy and Slovenia and to a lesser extent between Italy and Austria. Entitled to some rights granted by the State of Italy, among which the right to education in Slovene language. Nevertheless, such measures have not yet been completely implemented (specially regarding the use of Slovene in public administration and public signs). Slovenes bilingual people, they speak Slovene and Italian. Italians, with some rare exceptions, do not know the Slovene language, not even passively. The Slovene community in Italy

4 Considered of primary importance for the existence of the Slovene community in Italy. The Slovene community in Italy, in its struggle for a continuing cultural and linguistic existence and development, always dedicated great attention to schools with Slovene as the language of instruction. The preservation of the Slovene language

5 Trst/Trieste and Gorica/Gorizia: Encompassing system of Slovene primary, primary medium and secondary schools (not university). Špeter/ S.Pietro al Natisone (Udine): Bilingual school (Slovene and Italian in kindergarten and in the primary cycle and primary medium ). 2010/2011 about 3900 pupils and students attending the Slovene kindergartens and schools in Italy. Slovene minority schools in Italy

6 Italian: teaching and learning language. Slovene: not part of the curriculum, but courses in Slovene language may be introduced (Law 4 82/1999). Learning the neighbouring language is rather an exception – it is a matter of personal choice to attend a language course. Schools of the majority

7 In the last decades changes in the language and the ethnic structure of the school population. Constant increase of pupils coming from intermarried Slovene–Italian families and especially from non- Slovene/Italian families. The teaching staff qualified to teach children whose mother tongue is Slovene and lacks suitable qualification to teach Slovene as the second or third language. Slovene minority school in Italy: Population

8 Ethnic structure of the population of the schools with Slovene as the language of instruction in Italy: 1997 to 2003 to 2010 (in %) (Bogarec, 2011) mix = Slo & Ital; Slo & other ethnicity

9 Slovene L1 is defined as the first language or the language of instruction of the school but not for all its pupils. Italian L2 is defined as the second language of instruction of the school, whereas for many children Italian is their first language or one of their first languages. The diffusion of the phenomenon is considered as causing a linguistic flattening among the pupils. L1 ? L2?

10 Lower communication skills and linguistic competence in Slovene language tests Objectives not reached (0 to 1/3 points) Objectives partly reached (<1/3 to 2/3 points) Objectives reached (<2/3 points) Language/s spoken at home doesnt/dont correlate to test results. Slovene Italian (Pertot, 2009) The results of language test submitted to the pupils (age 13), confirm the flattering.

11 Recommended that the parents involve their children into different activities outside school which take place in Slovene language (non-formal education). Parents can chose from a wide range of activities. For youngest: laboratories, gymnastics lessons, children choirs, storytelling hours, psychomotor activities, play groups etc. … For older: different types of sports and all kinds of associations and laboratories (e.g. theatre, chess, art etc.), scout groups, summer campsites, organized holidays in Slovenia etc. … Slovene associations, parents associations, kindergartens, schools, private subjects... offer a wide range of activities. Increase the level of exposition to improve Slo. L !

12 Childrens languages outside the school No data about the extent to which being involved in different after-school activities is efficacious for learning and improving Slo. L. The above research results (in%) show that the Slo. L is not used by Italian children outside the school. (Bogatec, 2011) mix = Slo & Ita; Slo & other ethincity

13 2003 -2005, Considering the Council Resolution of 16 December 1997 advice to increase awareness among parents on the benefits of teaching languages at an early age, SLORI (Slovene Research Institute) organized discussion groups (called workshops) on the generic topic The Bilingual Child, dedicated to the parents and coordinated by a psychologist. Considered a type of parent education. 2004-2005, SLORI booklet for parents with the title The Bilingual Child was published and distributed for free to the parents. 2006-2007, from time to time meetings on the same topic organized by various subjects. 2008 -2010, Libero and Zora Polojaz Foundation discussion groups for parents on the generic topic For the well-being of our children. Coordinated by two psychologists. 2011-2012, Project JezikLingua, discussion groups for parents on childrens bilingualism and cultural awareness. Coordinated by two psychologists. Meetings recorded. Attention to parents

14 Older but still valid motivation ( Bufon & Bogatec, 1997; Colja, 2000; Pertot, 2004) Commodity (ex. vicinity to the school), quality of the education activities, less crowded classrooms, willing to revitalise the Slovene origins, offer to the child one more chance (not specific) for the future life, two languages are better than one, no clear ideas. New motivation (Pertot & Lokar, 2011) 1) Due to economic reasons, connected to the fall of the border between Italy and Slovenia: a) knowing the language (Slovene) of the neighbour interlocutor, and not only English, allows a successful communication in local economy; b) the economic crisis requires mobility, if the child learns Slovene, he/she will have more job chances also in Slovenia; c) in Slovenia, the prices of real estate and the housing expenses are much lower, therefore an increasing number of Italians is moving to the border areas in Slovenia; thus, the child must be prepared for changing residence (already done, planned or hypothetical); etc. 2) Due to cultural awareness: a) the child will understand very early that different realities exist and he/she will not fear them; b) the child will grow in a dynamic environment, in which a plurality of ethnical identities coexist at the same time; etc Italian parents motivation for the Slovene minority school

15 Slovene parents The school with Slovene as language of instruction is our school, it is the Slovene minority school, in the past as well as today and tomorrow, it should take care of the inter-generational transmission of the Slovene language and identity, allowing the Slovenes in Italy to continue existing as a community and avoiding their assimilation. I feel it is important to me that I transmit the Slovene language to my daughters and the school will also provide for it. I want my son to be a Slovene and I expect the Slovene minority school to transmit the language and the culture. Italian parents The school with Slovene as language of instruction is an Italian bilingual school, which, along with lessons of the Italian language, offers lessons of the neighbouring language, Slovene. In parents opinion: Up to the 70s, it wasnt possible [to enroll Italian children into Slovene minority schools], but now there are no more Slovenes, so it has become possible. Slovenes in Italy are at risk of extinction. The teachers here [in this Slovene minority kindergarten] are willing to speak in Italian. Obviously, before the kindergarten began, I feared a stronger impact, of the type either you speak Slovene or you die, but it is fortunately not like this. Children use only Italian among them. Even Slovenes speak Italian among them, the Slovene language is only spoken at school and in Slovene organizations The Slovenes who live here [and not in Slovenia] speak a diluted Slovene. So, where have the Slovenes disappeared? The same school VS two imagined schools Examples quoted in Pertot & Lokar, 2011

16 Italian parents In their opinion Slovenes are a community present in the surroundings of the town but not in town. Ex: Maybe the Slovenes from the Karst speak Slovene among themselves, but surely not in town.;. In the town, I have never heard any Slovene speaking the Slovene language [ The Karst is an upland area that nestles against Trieste and occupies the eastern extremity of Friuli Venezia Giulia, extending over the previous border into Slovenian territory. Sometimes by Italians it was/is jokingly called the Indian reservation (!) and perceived as such. ] Slovene auto-segregation ? In the last years, Slovenes (in Trieste and Gorizia) are indeed moving from the town to the surrounding villages, as these are mainly inhabited by Slovenes and the quality of life is higher (it is not possible to consider the question in depth here). Many Slovene parents (even those with an Italian partner) who live in town take their children to Slovene minority schools in the surrounding villages. They are convinced that: 1. in town, the Slovene minority schools are developing a linguistic underclass. 2. in the schools of the surrounding villages, where there are less Italian children, the pupils learn Slovene better and develop a more stable sense of belonging to the Slovene people Town VS surroundings nestles Examples quoted in Pertot & Lokar, 2011

17 Town VS surroundings nestles: Changes in the language and the ethnic structure of the school population (in %) (Bogatec, 2011) mix = Slo & Ital; Slo & other ethnicity

18 Debates among members of Slovene organizations, among Slovenes of the left-winged parties coalition; in public meetings; in published letters by readers... based on the data about the increase of the number of pupils from non Slovene speaking families. Contents: - Explicit swinging between two different opinions: 1) the new situation represents an enrichment for the local community; 2) there is the doubt about whether the Slovene language is being gradually replaced by Italian and weather the school provides sufficiently for the trans-generation transmission of the Slovene language. - Implicit swinging between 1) the idealized image of one identity, one culture, one language linked to the individual and group sense of identity; 2) considering these realities as much more complex. Some of the mentioned questions appeared in the media

19 What next? Research and media proposals and suggestions: grouped from ethnocentric to more intercultural oriented strategies Differentiate: Slovene apart from bilingual Special approaches and parental support Promotion of cultural diversity & intercultural dialog Slovene as a subject in Italian schools

20 Formally, it has to be accepted that there are more types of kindergartens and elementary schools (it depends on the number of non-Slovene speaking pupils). These need to be differentiated. The schools with Slovene as the language of instruction should be granted a higher level of autonomy and should have the possibility to take decisions independently; moreover they should offer a wide and diversified educational program. 1) Differentiate: Slovene apart from bilingual

21 The Slovene language should be introduced in Italian schools as a neighbouring language subject. If Italian parents could choose this subject in Ita. schools, they would not enrol their children in Slo. schools. This would have two consequences: a negative one – the number of pupils in Slovene minority schools would fall, and a positive one – children who do not speak Slovene would not slow down the learning in schools where teaching is performed in Slovene. This would make it easier for schools with Slovene as the language of instruction to carry out their mission of inter-generational transmission of the Slovene language and identity. 2) Slovene as a subject in Italian schools

22 Special approaches are needed Training teachers in new language teaching methodologies is essential. Revise and complement the existing curricula as well as textbooks. Consider EU resolutions, reports and advice on multilingualism and language learning. Parents must be educated, it is necessary to offer and promote: Courses of Slovene language for parents. Formal and non-formal education for intercultural awareness of those who choose a minority school for their children. Consider EU resolutions, reports and advice on promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialog. 3) Special approaches and parental support

23 Help children to form their national profile in accordance with the linguistic, national and cultural characteristics of their families; help them to integrate and consolidate such profile through the confrontation with people belonging to other linguistic and cultural communities. Help pupils of different linguistic, national and cultural origins to develop the ability to coexist and interact; stimulate the search for motivations for an intercultural dialogue. Training teachers in new didactics for a multilingual and intercultural education is essential. Consider EU resolutions, reports and advice on multilingualism and language learning and on promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialog. 4) Promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialog

24 The abovementioned proposals do not necessarily all exclude one another, some of them can even be integrated with one another. Nevertheless, in the teachers opinions: Sometimes, schools don't even have enough money for buying toilet paper, which pupils are required to bring from home; the school reform carried out by the government has cut the funds to such an extent that it is difficult to imagine an inflow of money which could allow a specific, additional education for teachers and the introduction of new methodologies, particular approaches etc. Between saying and doing there is the sea [ Italian proverb ]. We brought in everyone, but we lost control. Parents decide, for each single case, to choose what they think is best for their children; in this, they are not influenced by the discussion going on in the so-called civil society, which, in the end, is composed of professionals: theorists of pedagogy, researchers, linguists, politicians etc. (Teachers discussion group, 3 May 2011, recorded by Pertot) Chances of success ?

25 What is said Considered reactions> The increased interest of the Italian parents for the Slovene minority schools is a result of the entrance of Slovenia into the EU; moreover, it is a result of the changes in the political situation, which is now much more open and collaborative between the Slovene minority group and the Italian dominant group. Paranoid reactions> Italians have appropriated the Slovene minority school and are plundering the Slovene minority, anti-predatory strategies are needed. What is not said The Slovenes, in a non explicit way, have promoted the Slovene minority schools among Italians as, in some areas, these schools would have registered a strong fall in the number of pupils enrolled and some of them would have probably already closed (ex.: one school centre in the city of Trieste had 70 pupils in 2001 and today it has 180 pupils). As a consequence, also the number of teachers and employees in these schools would have decreased. Parents talk about this ( Without the Italian children, the Slovene minority schools would not exist anymore). Schools and the job posts are saved, the status quo is maintained (but this has never been clearly discussed in public). Who benefits Due to the increase of the number of pupils from non- Slovene families, a series of activities related to this phenomenon has been reinforced or even newly developed (a very wide offer of non-formal language education activities, help in doing the homework in Slovene, projects, researches, articles...). This is considered as an ability to adapt to changes but it can be seen also as a business. Teachers and a high number of Slovene people benefit of the presence of Italians in Slo. minority schools, they would otherwise need to look for a job in the majority environment or elsewhere in the world.

26 An observation The case of the school with Slovene as the language of instruction in Italy can be considered as an example of how the inter-generational transmission of a minority language in formal and informal education can not necessarily be always threatened only by obsolete power dynamics (that the minority perceives as persecutory) between the minority and the majority. On the contrary, it can be closely linked to on going historical and cultural changes and to new negotiations on the social level, as also, if not mainly, to economic interests of some subgroups of the minority itself, which act to maintain a certain status quo.

27 In the last decade, the school with Slovene as the teaching language has been presented as an agent of imagined Slovene ethnicity (in Anderson's sense, 1983) During this period, apparently without the will of the Slovene minority, a new representation has been produced: the Slovene minority school is an agent of bilingual Slovene–Italian education, without links to the Slovene ethnicity. This representation is much more tangible in parents narrations than in the so called civil society, made up of professionals that reveal the changes only after they have occurred and not in real time. At a social level, the abovementioned two concepts of the identity of the school with Slovene as the language of instruction in Italy actually collide, resulting in a power struggle as to which of the two will prevail. A new representation of the school with Slovene as the language of instruction in Italy, considered as a borderland experience where hybridity (diverse and not Slovene vs. Italian) dominates, is starting to emerge. A transformation is taking place, although alternative options (e.g. a school built on hybridity?), new conceptual representations or new constructions are not clearly defined yet (or at least I am not able to see them). Work in progress Provisional findings regarding the Slo. scholls identity

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