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New Try - Swedish language and civics with computer aid.

Labour movement Folk High School in Gothenburg

(Arbetarrörelsens Folkhighskola I Göteborg, AFiG)

 

Project Team:

Stellan Hansson, Jane Andergården, Marja Bokvist, Lisbeth Hansson

Abstract/Summary:

To gain knowledge about the Swedish language and society by developing the participants’ language with the aim to give them better skills in everyday life and increase their chances to find an employment. The aim is also to give the participants means to become more active citizens.

To help the participants away from long-term unemployment, the jobcentre offers them this possibility to study.

Rationale/Background:

AFiG was established in 1991 and one of its goals is to give people possibilities to reflect over their life situation and to get tools to be more active citizens.

A great part of the immigrants in Sweden are unemployed and have been so for a long time. They have a poor knowledge of Swedish and some of them also have reading and writing disabilities.

For the last 5-6 years AFIG has worked with people with reading and writing disabilities.

Target Group and Context:

The participants are unemployed immigrants.

The participants, who are six women and six men between 30 and 60 years, have a background of low formal education. The level of their language varies. They have lived in Sweden for many years but are not integrated in the Swedish society.

The course is one of the courses offered by AFIG. The duration is 15 weeks and the participants can continue for one period or more.

Objectives:

In the course we work with Swedish vocabulary, grammar and spelling. We also work with Civics in a practical context in order to make everyday life easier.(For example: How to find phone numbers, read timetables, consumer law and how to look for work and to write a CV and a personal application.) Newspapers are used in the course as an everyday tool to understand what’s happening in the nearby society and worldwide. Computer studies are included in the course to learn how to use the computer as a support for spelling and to find information on the Internet. The participants also learn how to handle various compensational computer programs.

Informal Learning Activities:

Active group discussions about articles in newspapers

Discussions over their life situation

Individual discussions to make individual “Action Plans” for every participant

Making study visits to museums, libraries, community institutions

Evaluation:

Three participants were assessed. We chose the following topics:

Institutional knowledge on macro level, communication, cooperation, decision making, endeavour/achievement motivation, self-esteem, empathy, knowledge about life and situation of others, getting and using information, enacting in civic contexts, participating in community, willingness to accept diversity.

We started collecting data using a questionnaire. We chose this method because we expected it to give us a clear view of how active the participants of the course are in society. We used a very simple language in the questionnaire since we wanted to avoid all risks of misunderstanding. We had planned to read the questions aloud, one by one, and let the participants answer the questions individually. We realized that the participants very soon lost their concentration, stopped listening to us and answered the questions at their own pace. Some answered the questions very quickly, without thinking, some worked together and some didn’t understand the questions at all. For those who didn’t understand we had to simplify the language even more, using body-language, give examples etc. Still we have the feeling that they didn’t fully understand the meaning of the questions.

Since we felt we could not trust the answers to the questionnaire, we decided to make some observations. Through the observations we would be able to get information about the participants while studying them in certain situations. We had one observation where the participants made a group-painting, another where they had a discussion on tolerance, one where the group made lunch together and one where they refurnished the classroom. The reason why we chose four observations is that we wanted to see these persons in different contexts and thereby get a fair and true picture of the topics we had chosen to study.

Results:

We tried to insert the results from the questionnaire and the observations in the evaluation pattern. This turned out to be difficult since we had not adapted the scales of the evaluation pattern to the context of our group. The general scaling was much too general to be used in the evaluation of our specific group. Now we can see that the assessments of our group became too subjective, even if every assessment was preceded by discussions. We soon realized that the general scaling would not show any progress of our participants in a short period of time. If we had made our own scaling (individual description/explanatory statement) adapted to this particular course and the participants, we would have been able to measure the progress. Since we didn’t have time to finish the first mini-project, we have prepared a new mini-project, from August to December 2007, where we will assess a target group similar to the one in our first mini-project.