Foreign language learning in Rijeka and its environs: an overview and our goals
Authors: Dr Branka Drljača Margić and Dr Irena Vodopija-Krstanović
Published on 6 June 2014
In Rijeka and its environs foreign languages are learned from an early age. Some day care centres offer early learning of English and Italian, for children as young as four, whereas some offer English as an elective activity, typically twice a week. In addition, several nurseries and kindergartens in Rijeka have full-day programmes in Italian for members of the Italian ethnic minority. An overview of language learning programmes offered by the Rijeka Day Care Centre can be found here.
Primary schools teach a foreign language from the first grade, adding another, optional one in the fourth grade, with most pupils choosing the second foreign language as an elective. Every child thus has the opportunity to learn foreign languages as part of his/her compulsory, free education. Foreign language teachers possess the necessary linguistic and pedagogical knowledge and skills, acquired through formal education. Most schools teach English as the first foreign language, with some offering German as an alternative. Italian is the most commonly taught second foreign language, followed by German, English, French, Spanish, Slovenian and Macedonian. An overview of compulsory and elective foreign language teaching offered in City of Rijeka primary schools can be found here.
The teaching of foreign languages continues, in compulsory and elective courses, in secondary school and at university. In addition, the University of Rijeka philological departments – the Department of English, the Department of German, and the Department of Italian – offer modern languages degree courses, taught entirely in the respective languages. Foreign languages are also learned in language schools, catering to students of all ages. Senior citizens can also learn foreign languages on courses provided at the Pensioners Association and taught by volunteers who are students of the aforementioned philological departments.
Our goals are to further raise the awareness of the value of foreign language learning, to point out that foreign languages can – with an appropriate approach – be successfully learned at any age, and to encourage foreign language learning in non-formal settings, for example through tandem learning. We will give language learning support through an individualised approach to those who need it, focusing on socially vulnerable groups. We will also endeavour to acquaint the community at large with the insights of second language acquisition research and relate these insights to foreign language teaching practice in schools.