From Saba and Austria, teachers gathered in Amsterdam for the first Teacher Workshop of LERI in April. The first day on Wednesday April 6, the teachers visited the St. Janschool in the city. From Puig Campana in Benidorm, Spain, two teachers as part of a separate ERASMUS+ project with Schakelklas Westland in Monster, the Netherlands, also joined the school visit.
The morning started with a welcome by Jan Bakker, the principal of the St. Janschool. Students from upper classes guided different groups in their home languages around the school, impressive! There were German-speaking tourguides, Spanish and English-speaking students, and other languages such as Italian. Something that the visiting teachers remarked was that the student-tourguides were proud and comfortable in speaking their languages in the school.
After a Dutch lunch with sandwiches and soup, one of the teachers from the St. Janschool explained their language friendly approach in a presentation. Students use their home language to learn key vocabulary for the lessons in the school language as well. In this way parents and families are involved in the lesson materials and language learning. Free writing and research can be done in the language the student feels most comfortable in.
A school visit asks for some reflection. With a group with teachers from different education systems, this gave room for some interesting sharing of practices and structures. It seemed like not everything could be implemented everywhere without adaptation, but the conclusion was that small changes for language friendly learning could be made nevertheless.
The day ended at a traditional Amsterdam bar where dinner was served. We had to try the go-to bites called bitterballen. During dinner we got to know each other a little bit better and meanwhile we did some fun icebreaker activities.