THE REGGIO EMILIA METHOD IN DEVELOPING INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCIES THROUGH SECOND-LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
In concluding the first decade of the new millennium, it becomes increasingly imperative that international education is also intercultural education. With the number of international students growing and moving in many directions worldwide, there is also a movement to explore new terrain by increasing international cultural awareness in some countries, such as the United States, to augment the number of students participating in this educational endeavor. However unpredictable and uncontrollable in its volume and variety, it is essential to examine how intercultural and international education and relations are to the development of a global society and interests. Therefore, it is necessary to examine best instructional philosophies, strategies, and practices essential to the educational development within this emerging arena in education.
One such teaching method that can have significant influence on this trend is the Reggio Emilia method, inspired and developed in Reggio Emilia, Italy shortly after World War II by Loris Malaguzzi and colleagues. This method allows students to amplify their learning experiences through: exploration, discovery, collaboration and cooperation, relationship building, problem solving, and decision making. This method has its educational underpinnings, and is furthermore supported in more recent decades, by educational theorists to include Dewey, Bloom, Bruner, Du Bono, Gardner, and proponents of constructivism. The presentation will examine how Reggio Emilia-inspired schools can instill within students an appreciation for a second language and its culture through language-immersion primary schools. The treatise will also briefly examine and outline major language development theories within the contexts of second-language acquisition and dual-language immersion programs. Additional areas of discussion will include multimodal teaching models and successful instructional strategies that positively contribute to a successful curriculum. Finally, the implications for international and intercultural competencies will be examined.
This proposed model, combining three instructional strategies: the Reggio method, second-language instruction, and emergent/thematic curricula, can address the critical issue of successful communication in a global community. Through this method, students as young as preschoolers are afforded opportunities to learn additional critical world languages since their brains are wired for acquiring a second language, while preparing a diversity of students to achieve and contribute in a global society. The importance of seeking a new path for international relations, one built on mutual respect and cultural awareness in attaining peace and understanding in order to foster and embrace intercultural competence is required of a 21st century citizen of the world.