CARDET has organized 3 Focus Groups towards the end of March, in Nicosia, Cyprus. 2 elementary schools participated in the focus groups. There were 3 focus groups conducted in total, 2 with teachers, and 1 with parents of children with multilingual backgrounds.
Teachers and parents were informed about the project beforehand. The goal was to establish a good understanding of the project, its aims, its activities, and the role of the schools in the project. Both hub schools were very positive to the idea of creating a curriculum to support multilingualism. Parents were also very welcoming of the idea that children in the schools would be supported through different activities around multilingualism. It is important to mention that both schools have a large number of students from foreign and multilingual backgrounds.
Prior to the meetings, as well as during those, the benefits of multilingualism were discussed and everyone highlighted the need to support all students from different backgrounds towards academic and social success regardless of language. Teachers in both focus groups pointed out the difficulties they face, as well as the solutions they apply to help their students as much as possible. Many teachers use technological tools, practices around theatrical play, and personalized instruction, in order to help their students to the best of their abilities.
Given the diversity of languages in the particular schools, and the fact that not all students are adequately familiar with the Greek language, it becomes a challenge for teachers, who need to provide meaningful and rich instruction to all their students. The Ministry provides allocated time for teaching students from diverse backgrounds, however, it is predetermined, and therefore, it is usually not enough for serving the needs of all students. Therefore, it was profound that a curriculum is provided, what consists of enriched activities and useful tools for teaching all students effectively. Project-based and social-based approaches were preferred. Teachers also expressed the need for having guidelines on how they would best provide instruction, and also to understand the structure of different languages.
Parents identified the need for supporting all children in the school. Some mentioned that the social aspect is very important, for children to stop being shy in class. They also identified the need for having a common understanding of the content among all students, and they suggested translation as a way of mutual understanding.