BeCult: BeCultManual –

The “Becult extend” website draws on a variety of different theories and approaches. The basic underlying principles are Computer Assisted Language Learning, Content and Language Integrated Learning, Autonomous Learning, and the promotion of intercultural competence. In the following, these principles are elaborated; as well as a discussion of other theoretical issues and their impact on the development of the website and organizational aspects of program application. Note: The “Becult extend” project (2008-2010) was a so-called “transfer of innovation”-project, widening the sectoral and lingual use, without changing the original basic concept of the original (2005-2007) learning website. This text is an updated version of the former text, describing the theoretical background of both projects. Applications The webtool was designed within the framework of an EU Leonardo program to enhance the mobility of young people in Europe in combination with professional vocational training. Its purpose is to help prepare young people to work in the hotel and gastronomy, tourism and retailing sector. The webtool can be used flexibly, as varied starting points and individual countries’ and institutions’ differences in their ability to integrate the tool were taken into account from the very beginning. There is no need of a trained language-teacher in order to work with the webtool; a cooking teacher, a staff manager, a social-worker, a senior colleague, etc. can take the role of a tutor. “Becult extend” can be used in tutored group learning situations as well as in independent work. “Becult extend” can be utilized not only to prepare students for foreign placements, but for a variety of other uses as well. For example, restaurants or hotels can use the webtool to train their employees to interact with guests and clients from foreign countries. Target Group Requirements The program was developed in close connection with institutions which train, send and host trainees. A needs analysis, including questionnaires and discussions, was carried out during the development of the learning program. The opinions of representatives of both sending and hosting organizations from the countries involved were gathered, as well as reports by young people who went abroad and used parts of the website. The target group – young people in professional vocational training ‑ often has limited personal and social experience. Therefore, there is a need to build up competencies which can enable them to participate successfully in mobilization programs. Due to the young people’s lack of experience outside their social circle, often in combination with educational deficits, having already experienced failure in the regular systems, and family (or personal) problems, they often lack adequate social skills. Transferred to a workplace abroad, they often need language skills and culture integrated learning on the most basic level: greeting, answering questions, finding places, etc. particularly when the use of a foreign language is involved. “Becult extend” is designed to bridge these cultural gaps. One problem pointed out by teachers, trainers and employers is that the young people often have very low self esteem and lack the social skills necessary to interact at the workplace. Another point mentioned was some trainees’ lack of motivation and staying power. From the trainees’ point of view, this was partly confirmed. When the students who had been abroad were asked about the problems they encountered during their stay, a considerable number of them answered that they felt insecure, homesick, or missed their girl- or boyfriend. These difficulties show that it is important to provide young people with means of communication and to give them support during their stay abroad.

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