TALK – taidetta ja liikettä kieltenopetukseen is a three-year educational project by Zodiak that uses art and movement to facilitate language learning.
In the project, dance artists work with children in Grades 1–9 who are learning English, Swedish, French, Spanish, Russian, or Finnish as a second language. In autumn 2015, the project includes ten comprehensive schools in Helsinki, Turku and Ypäjä: Hietakumpu Primary School, Vuosaari Primary School, Puistolanraitti Primary School, Porolahti Primary and Secondary School, Käpylän Yhtenäiskoulu, Finnish-Russian School, Ypäjä Comprehensive School, Haarla School, Puolala School, Kaisaniemi Primary School and Helsinki International School.
The TALK project provides an opportunity to develop and try out functional methods of language teaching. Working in pairs, dance artists and teachers search for new ways to teach languages. The dance artists conduct classes for two hours every month as a regular part of foreign language instruction.
With preparatory classes, instruction consists of weekly 90-minute sessions. In schools with a course-based curriculum the schedule of TALK lessons is adapted accordingly. The teachers and dance artists meet for a one-day development seminar two or three times during the academic year.
A video guide to the practical methods used in the project will be produced during 2016, and will be freely available online.
Aims of the TALK project
TALK is a three-year project of sustained effort to develop the content and methods of Zodiak’s language workshops in order to establish an internationally significant artistic and multiprofessional (dance artists and language teachers) method for language instruction in schools. The project is investigating the effects of sustained, regular artistic work on language learning and student motivation in holistic language education. It will also disseminate the best practices it has arrived at in the form of an online video guide, while also gathering information about corresponding methods internationally and networking with similar actors both home and abroad. The knowledge produced in the project will be put to use in work-counselling and training for teachers.
The current TALK project is based on kinaesthetic language learning workshops organised by Zodiak since 2007. In 2010, the Finnish Ministry of Education awarded a grant for the further development of the workshops. Dance artists who participated in the development of the method were Jenna Rignell, Satu Palokangas andGabriela Aldana-Kekoni.
The language workshops allow new content to be taught or old skills to be refreshed. They are equally suitable for pronunciation training and listening comprehension, and can be used to activate and motivate groups and awaken students’ interest in a language and its culture. Kinaesthetic language learning workshops have been conducted in comprehensive schools, high schools and vocational institutes.
In 2012, Zodiak received the Vuoden kieliteko award presented annually by the Finnish Language Teachers’ Association and the Otavan kirjasäätiö Foundation for its creative method for developing language skills among young people.
By 2013, the language workshops had been part of Zodiak’s educational programme for several years. However, due to the lack of financial resources, Zodiak had only been able to organise occasional courses or short series, which prevented the method from being developed to its full potential either artistically or pedagogically. In 2013, the Kone Foundation awarded Zodiak a grant from its language programme for sustained development of the language workshops. The TALK project is also supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Alfred Kordelin Foundation.
Participation in the TALK project is free for schools. The project is managed by Katja Kirsi, who is in charge of outreach and education at Zodiak.