ЕducArt and Teach For Bulgaria Created the First Bulgarian Specialized Diagnostic Tool for Multilingual Children

Диагностика многоезични деца илюстрация

The Diagnostic tool will support Bulgarian teachers who work with some of the most vulnerable children in our education system

The first Bulgarian specialized diagnostic tool for students whose first language is not Bulgarian is now a fact. The diagnostic tool allows for a deeper analysis of students’ language needs, what they have already mastered, and their areas of improvement. The learning resources created by linguists will directly support primary school teachers who work with some of the most vulnerable children in our education system. The diagnostic tool is the first key phase of a larger project for the development of specialized learning resources for additional language support for children whose first language is not Bulgarian. The project is executed by Teach For Bulgaria in partnership with EducArt and is funded by a public fundraising campaign for individual donations which is still active.

LEARNING RESOURCES FOR MULTILINGUAL CHILDREN

The experts from EducArt and Teach For Bulgaria have already completed the diagnostic tool and are working on its testing and validation in the classroom. They are currently working on the development of specialized learning materials for second-graders. The next step would be to develop such materials and resources for children in 3rd and 4th grade. The diagnostic tool includes illustrations by Eslitsa Popova. The purpose of the illustrations is to evoke a verbal reaction by children. The goal is for them not to feel evaluated, but to have a pleasant experience by looking at the pictures and talking about them. This is one of the first impressions of the teachers who have already tested the diagnostic tool as well.
“The diagnostic tool is crucial for two reasons: on the one hand it helps us in the development of the learning resources because it can identify any specific difficulties so that children can be supported more purposefully. On the other hand, it will benefit all teachers who will work with the language resources because they will be able to determine the level of all children, track their progress, and meet their individual needs,” shared Anastasia Novikova, specialist in multilingualism and the didactics of language training at EducArt.
All resources developed within the project will have detailed methodological instructions and guidelines for teachers. This will allow teachers to implement and easily adapt the resources in their classrooms. The ultimate goal is for them to be able to support bilingual or multilingual students.
“It is important to highlight the fact that the learning resources are also going to be useful for Bulgarian students with language difficulties or children who live abroad and have a very limited exposure to Bulgarian language,” adds linguist Vyara Mihaylova from EducArt.
Елица Попова, Анастасия Новикова и Вяра Михайлова от EducArt
Eslitsa Popova, Anastasia Novikova, and Vyara Mihaylova from EducArt
This initiative builds upon the foundations laid by a previous successful project executed by partner organizations in Bulgaria, Romania, and Germany. Its goal was to support Bulgarian language training for children attending kindergarten and first grade. The close nature of the two projects allows for a smoother transition and logical continuation as far as teaching practices are concerned. An additional activity in the new project is the development of a specialized training course. This allows Teach For Bulgaria and EducArt to support entire schools in the process of implementing, adapting, and combining best practices for additional language support both in class and during extracurricular activities. The training has already started. The first participants are Teach For Bulgaria’s partner schools in the Model Schools program. 
“The project is funded exclusively by donations from individual donors from Bulgaria and around the world. This is why all learning resources are going to be free, readily available, and accessible to all educators in the country,” shares Anjela Deyanska, Head of Development and Fundraising at Teach For Bulgaria.

INFORMATION ABOUT MULTILINGUAL CHILDREN IN BULGARIA

20% of all children who start school in Bulgaria do not speak Bulgarian at home, according to data cited by former Deputy Minister of Education and Science Denitsa Sacheva at the Future of Education Forum in 2018. The majority of these students are Roma, but our participants also work with refugees and with children whose mother tongue is Turkish. All subjects are taught in Bulgarian, so more often than not poor Bulgarian language skills cause children to lag behind their peers. Bilingual and multilingual students have difficulties mastering their lessons and learning new skills, they feel misunderstood and unsuccessful. This often puts them at a great risk of dropping out. There is no teaching methodology for Bulgarian as a second language which presents a serious challenge for teachers who work with bilingual children. There are no learning resources and materials for Bulgarian as a second language, either. Yet another challenge for teachers of bilingual or multilingual students.

SUPPORT THE PROJECT

The project is funded entirely by a public fundraising campaign supported by many individual donors from across the globe. You can support the campaign here or at GlobalGiving, if you don’t live in Bulgaria. Over 200 people participated in the first fundraising campaign. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development also supported this project via its Community Initiative. 
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