The Aramaic-online course will be the central activity of this project. The course will be open to native and non-native learners and provided at A1, A2 and B1 levels. After the lifetime of the project, all course levels (incl. C1 and C2) will be completed by the partners. The online course will provide a complete educational source for learning Surayt.
In the online course, new language-learning materials (textbook, recorded lectures, grammar, glossary, multimedia tools etc.) will be developed. To increase the dissemination level of the online course, an app-version of the course will also be developed.
The online course will have a user-friendly interface and a task-based approach to encourage learners to participate actively and avoid ‘cognitive overload’ which might cause premature dropouts.
The online course will be based on HTML, can be used with any device (laptop, tablet, smart phone) with a browser (like Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Explorer etc.) and will be have the following features:
- 30-36 learning units (each unit/4 academic hours of teaching) with texts and exercises; each level (A1, A2 and B1) will have 10-12 learning units
- detailed guidelines for teachers and students
- listening, speaking, reading, writing
- cultural and historical facts
- various communication situations
- vocabulary by frequency
- usage-based, realistic grammar
- diverse exercises with answer key
- introduction into the comprehension of the main dialects
- written tests after each lesson
- intensive review after every 6 learning units
- interactivity on laptop, tablet PC etc.
- dialogues as audio files in Surayt
- listening exercises and tests, including dialects
- computer-based drills
- links to glossaries, charts and additional materials
All content (including its translation into English, Swedish, German, Dutch, and also into French, Turkish and Arabic) for the on-line course will be discussed, developed, evaluated and revised by the partners involved in these tasks.
Work to develop the online course is divided into three phases: 1) the beta version of the online course (within 12 months), 2) testing phase and completing all units of A1 and A2 levels (6 months between 12 and 18 months into the project), 3) the final version of the course (incl B1 level) with virtual classrooms (second half of the project time). Achievements in each phase will represent a milestone. During the testing phase and 6 months before the end of the project time, the course will be evaluated by partners, stakeholders, target groups and the external evaluator. Following the feedbacks, corrections and improvements will be made in the final version of the course.
In the final year of the project, the course will provide learners with virtual classrooms where they will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss online with the language teachers. In each session, teachers will develop a short discussion in Surayt and introduce Surayt phrases to promote the use of the language.
This service will be available for 2 hours a week. Only learners with a registered profile will have access to this facility. The virtual classrooms will be organised during school terms (2 terms in total) and continue until the end of the project time. Depending on the knowledge capacity of the registered users, more than one classroom can be organised for different levels.
The virtual classrooms will function as a prototype for teaching Surayt as a joint module at tertiary institutions. It is also an effective way of disseminating the project and promoting the online course. Through participants, the Consortium will be able to assess the course and produced material from a methodological and pedagogical perspective more accurately, and follow the impacts of the course (and a virtual classroom setting) on the long run.
The textbook of the online course will be an important language learning material in Surayt which uses the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and thus, aims to standardize the language learning, teaching and assessment of Surayt. The textbook together with the online course will be a complete open educational resource (OER) for learning/teaching Surayt. It will aim to reach a broad group of learners by offering the textbook in different languages. The textbook will be published both as an ‘e-book’ and in hard copy. The e-book version will be available on the project website as a free downloadable source.
With the international conference the consortium aims:
– To bring scholars of this language together for the first time specifically to discuss the problems and challenges of Surayt from an interdisciplinary perspective. The conference will give scholars the chance to bundle their disparate efforts and establish durable relations and institutions for the promotion of and research into Surayt.
– To involve scholars in the project activities through their participation in project working groups. We have deliberately scheduled the conference in the first year to disseminate the idea of the project among scholars and to get them involved.
– To develop a new orthography for Surayt (both in Classical Syriac and Latin characters), based on the conference conclusions.
– To develop a new curriculum for teaching Surayt at university level.
– As part of the exploitation of the project results, an edited volume, based predominantly on the papers presented at the international conference on Surayt will be published as an e-book.
A summer school on Surayt specifically targeting the young learners will be organised in the final year of the project. With a summer school we aim to disseminate the project directly among the target group, and have the opportunity to test it and increase their language skills in Surayt.
The summer school will be organised at the St Ephrem Monastery in the Netherlands. The reason for choosing a monastery derives from the fact that there is already a language course on Syriac-Aramaic (liturgical language) provided to young learners.
The summer school will offer 10 days of intensive language education, at A1 and A2 levels. Depending on the learners’ language profile, courses will be offered to two groups: beginners and those with a certain proficiency in Surayt. The summer school will be advertised in community media and churches in different European countries. Course registration will be based on applications and candidate selection will be made by the Consortium. The summer school will target 40 learners.
The project will organize a training workshop for the future Surayt language teachers in terms of an intensive study programme. The added value of this training activity is linked to the general aims and objectives of the project as we described in the related sections.
Briefly, the training workshop for language teachers of Surayt will be an important part of the project dissemination and exploitation strategy. Through this workshop, the consortium hopes to share results with language teachers and involve them in the dissemination of the project in their local educational context. Another important point is that the standardisation of Surayt requires the training of its teachers. Language teachers have a great opportunity to institutionalise the use of the new Surayt orthography and recruit on-line course students and to synchronise their course material and teaching methods with the project results.
The training workshop will be organised in the second year of the project (2016) in Germany after the test version of the online course becomes available, to encourage language teachers to use the first project results, disseminate and implement them locally. In total 25 language teachers will be targeted. The workshop will highlight such topics as problems and challenges of teaching Surayt, language promotion, the online course, the new orthography and pedagogical aspects of teaching the language.
This work package will be one of the main components of the project dissemination and exploitation strategy. During ‘Info Days’, the consortium aims to inform and attract people to project activities in 5 cities in 3 countries (Sweden, Germany, Netherlands) where Syriacs live in large numbers.
The consortium hopes to organise these activities with local and national authorities and community associations. To establish these relations, in the introductory phase of the project the consortium partners (see above for ‘Early dissemination activities’) will visit community associations, local and national authorities, to inform them of project activities and discuss the possibility of organising such joint activities as ‘Info Days on Surayt’. The consortium will organise these dissemination activities regardless of the responses of these institutions.
During Info Days, the Consortium will organise joint seminars about the project and introduce the online language course to potential learners. If accepted, the Consortium is planning to open information desks for 1 month in public libraries in selected cities and distribute brochures about the project. Simultaneously, we shall contact the community media (newspapers, magazines, satellite and web TV) and local newspapers, either for interviews or writing informative articles about the project (each partner at least one article). Posters will be hung and folders distributed by community organisations, including churches. All activities in each country will be realised within one month to effectuate visibility of the project.