Reintegration center RECEA AWO HEIMATGARTEN
In December 2013 a reintegration center was established in Yerevan based on the German educational and cultural centre.
Address: 0070, Yerevan, Alen Manukyan str. 13, ASPU building (Faculty of Philology), room 405, tel. 37410556030138.
Partners: Armenian State Pedagogical University after Khachatur Abovyan and German educational and cultural center.
The Center is active in the following areas:
• social adaptation of remigrants to their new environment;
• psychological help;
• language classes;
• awareness-raising for the Armenian culture;
• development of tolerance;
• cultural program of introducing students to the national culture, literature, history and historical monuments.
The knowledge of their native language (Armenian) and the resulting ability to communicate in that language is an integral part of social adaptation and integration for children and adolescents. Both the involvement of children in the educational activities, as well as the activities and excursions in the city and beyond the city borders like visits to museums and other cultural attractions help these beneficiaries to get acquainted with their own culture.
Psychological assistance is provided by the ASPU teacher Lilit Bagdasaryan. The main focus of these activities include stress relief, decrease of general anxiety as well as fighting with difficulties in adapting to the new environment and the language barrier as one of the main problems of remigrants.
The cultural approach aims to implement the principle of cultural adaptation as one of the most important principles of modern education to facilitate the integration of the returnees.
The involved remigrants in Armenia face the following problems:
• entering a new social environment;
• a new and unfamiliar school system;
• lack or insufficient knowledge of the Armenian language;
• new life conditions.
Solutions to these issues manifest themselves in the assistance of the center and facilitating adaptation of children and adolescents to a new school environment, stimulating the formation of language acquisition in Armenian, Russian and German.
At the centre, the children have the option to learn the following languages: Armenian, Russian and German.
Teachers: Gayane Terzyan, Bella Ayunts, Shushanik Petrosyan.
Volunteers: Anait Sograbyan, Nara Asatryan.
Kolya Simonyan works in the reintegration center since December 1st, 2012. He is the assistant of RECEA director Prof. Dr. Melanya Astvatsatryan.
His responsibilities include:
• phone calls;
• organization of meetings with parents;
• training evenings, festivals, excursions;
• checking homework;
• preparation of test items;
• monitoring sessions;
• discussion sessions with teachers;
• translation of training materials from German into Armenian;
• translation of training materials from Armenian into German.
In the process of teaching languages, the following positions are especially significant:
• heterogeneous nature of linguistic knowledge and language acquisition on different skill levels
• multi-level communicative competence;
• language convergence, similarities and differences;
• social importance, the role and importance of the Armenian language as a cultural aspect
• activity-based approach to learning;
• multi-layer thinking;
• didactic tours like trips to museums and other cultural or historical facilities
• Use of various technologies for the language acquisition process.
The implemented activity-based approach promotes the development effective learning strategies, whereby the students themselves plan their actions and learning strategies, establishing their own individual route.
This active approach includes:
• learn by performing actions and using the language (practice-based learning)
• involvement of children in activities;
• establishment of individual reward mechanisms to learn with pleasure;
• learning through role-playing or game-based technologies, including songs, rhymes, puzzles;
• interconnected learning of various language skills (e.g. reading/writing, vocal communication, .listening comprehension)
Multichannel learning - input of all sorts of channels to maximize the training effect: visual, auditory, manual, light, sound, music.
The implemented visualization techniques do not only cover substantive but also pictorial visibility. For example, using graphical diagrams can model the structure of words, phrases or sentences. Significant importance belongs to the games that enhance motivation and the interest of the students, which has a positive effect on the process of language acquisition.
In the process of organizing language classes, the teachers have attempted to implement learning strategies within the program "Development of Critical Thinking through Reading and Writing" (DCTRW) by Charles Temple with certain adjustments on their part. The program is based on basic conceptual model presented in three categories: "Call, comprehension of the content, reflection". In brief, the interpretation of Charles Temple’s model begins with the teacher connecting the lesson with previous experiences of the students, as well as with their own requests. Then comes the stage at which the students are actively investigating, exploring new material and in this process gradually mastering it. At the final stage, the students can record what they have learned and use new material to perform certain tasks. This method of mutual learning and collective way of learning has proven to be effective and enjoys a high level of acceptance among the students. As the authors of the DCTRW program claim, students do better in school and can improve their own skills by explaining or teaching certain aspects. The mutual learning process is carried out in small groups, in which the teacher distributes social roles among the students. For example, the role of a supervisor, responsible for performing tasks in the group (the leader) or a stenographer who is writing down every step. The teacher first demonstrates the roles, and then the learners take on these roles.
In the process of collective learning activities, the whole group is involved in the work. The instructor demonstrates open questions using a computer or writing on the chalkboard. Children are given specific time to answer these questions individually, either orally or in writing. The children then turn to each other and share their answers with their partners.
Control Methods and Testing Procedures
For the successful organization of the learning process, the focus is set on the quality factor of language acquisition. Using monitoring methods, the teacher receives information about the success of the training. Written tests or control works are usually held after studying specific topics and specific material to test and evaluate the quality of each student's learning. For this purpose, the following methods are used:
• Conduct pre-test written surveys as long as the teacher is not satisfied with how well the students have understood the studied material;
• Informing students 1-2 weeks prior about the work and the organization of the relevant preparatory work;
• Preparatory tests, which have the purpose to determine the degree of preparedness of students in upcoming exams.
These methods also contribute to regular homework checking, which allows to identify gaps in the knowledge of the students. For this, traditional and nontraditional forms of checking homework are used alternatively. The most traditional and effective kind of work consists collecting notebooks for inspection work performed at home, which is generally a highly time-consuming work. Less time-consuming techniques include mutual homework authentication among the students. Of course, this mutual testing process is carried out under the supervision of the teachers. Another type of test consists of one the students writing his homework tasks on the board and then each student checks his homework in comparison to the verified example. However, the most common form of the validation of knowledge and skills of the students consists of standardized tests based on objective, close-typed testing principles.
All teachers recognize and mark different level of language knowledge among their students, not only due to age-related features, but also as a result of individual characteristics and individual learning styles. Some students are more receptive to new material if they work together with a companion, while others are more receptive to the background music or with the help of modern songs. The language classes various teaching approaches help to identify and use these different learning strategies to accelerate and facilitate the language acquisition process.
The biggest obstacle for the classes is the constant inflow and outflow of students. On such conditions it is difficult to maintain a uniform language level. Incoming new children more need individual training, which makes the teachers' work more complicated. One way to solve this is to activate certain more experienced students as educational assistants and thus involve them in educational and didactic services new students need to fully integrate in the learning group. A side effect of this practice is that the chosen assistants among the students gain the opportunity to explain the contents of the classes and consequently improve their own abilities through this process.
The Armenian language itself creates a few obstacles for the learning process of this particular language. For instance, as the language of teaching for all subjects (Language for Education), as an independent subject of learning (Language in Education and Language as Subject) and for mastering Armenian secondary school examination (through written tests). Each of these target systems requires special techniques and teaching strategies.
Certainly, in the course of studying languages, there are objective difficulties for typical Armenian students. Quite substantially the specificity of the Armenian language has to be taken into account. The Armenian language belongs to the Indo-European family, but is an agglutinative language, revealing at the same time an extensive system of inflections and analytical structures.
In the process of teaching, difficulties arise related to the laws of interference of the spoken language. One of the main problems is that interference signals are common mistakes among all students. All teachers note the difficulties arising due to lack of generic differentiation in the Armenian language, which negatively affects the introduction and consolidation of personal and possessive pronouns interfaced with the category of gender (like he/she/it and his/hers/its).
To overcome unwanted interference in different groups (beginners and advanced), teachers practice different strategies and techniques for advanced groups
Advanced groups have the advantage not only in terms of increasing the volume of knowledge, but also a wide use of the acquired language experience.
Later, in connection with the expansion of knowledge of other languages like Russian, interfering phenomena may be explained with support of the language.
In the latter case, the technology works well "extra explanation", namely return to the previously passed phenomena and their presentation and explanation on the new, higher bilingual level.