On 11 January, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) received the top prize of the European Language Label for its ALEF programme. The programme provides extracurricular Arabic lessons by VUB language experts for children aged six to 15, in a neutral environment. The European Language Label is an initiative by the European Commission to promote foreign language teaching in its member states.
The ALEF curriculum was developed by VUB language experts and emphasises language processing. It includes elements of both Western and Arabic culture. Examples include plays in Dutch, French and Arabic, trilingual songs, storytelling in collaboration with libraries in Brussels and dancing with instructions in three languages. Through ALEF, the VUB contributes to multilingualism, integration and increasing the self-esteem of children with an Arabic background.
“The VUB is an inclusive, urban and international university. The ALEF programme is a good example of how this is put into practice,” says Karin Vanderkerken, vice-rector for Internationalisation at VUB. “With this programme, the VUB and its partners are assuming their responsibility in relation to important social challenges, including integration and diversity in our community. Receiving the top award of the European Language Label is a recognition of the programme’s goals. My thanks go to the dedicated team and all the partners who have supported the programme.”
The European Language Label is awarded every year by Epos vzw in Flanders. It recognises innovative initiatives in the field of languages and brings them to the attention of policymakers, researchers and practitioners throughout Europe. ALEF received this recognition after a thorough evaluation by a jury. The label offers extra visibility to the programme. The teaching material developed for ALEF can now be used as an inspiration for organisations in Belgium and abroad that are interested in setting up similar initiatives.
ALEF Programme (Arabic Language Classes for All)
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