Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 17

Accepted Abstracts

Language Learning and Vocational Education and Training (VET). Challenges and Prospects

Mario Pace, University of Malta (Malta)


Up to some decades ago, the concepts of Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Language Learning were considered irreconcilable and incompatible. Until the 19th Century, VET was regarded to be in opposition to a classical curriculum.  Notwithstanding the growth of industrialization in the 19th Century and although several European countries introduced vocational education in elementary and secondary schools, it still remained an on-the-job phenomenon and thought of in a very narrow way. It was considered simply an alternative track for high-schoolers who weren’t going on to college. Today, such a vision has changed drastically and VET can be defined as “education and training which aim to equip people with knowledge, know-how, skills and/or competences required in particular occupations or more broadly on the labour market”[i].  In today’s labour world, mastery in foreign languages is considered not just an excellent tool to bridge gaps but above all an instrument that enables workers to considerably improve their career prospects with several studies showing a very close connection between proficiency in languages and employability. Yet, despite this growing recognition that proficiency in at least one other language (besides the mother tongue) is advantageous in today’s world, a lot still needs to be done in terms of implementation and methods of language teaching and learning which are more learner-focused, more practically oriented and, above all, more applied to professional contexts. One possible solution is the introduction of language courses for VET students which are a combination between Language Proficiency & Languages for Specific Purposes courses.  Such courses would provide a method of learning, teaching and assessing basic skills or abilities in the language, according to the particular needs of the students and the specific requirements of the vocational domain. This obviously presents a number of challenges which need to be discussed and analysed from both the educators’ and the students’ point of view.

[i] Glossary – Quality in Education & Training. CEDEFOP

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