The mission of the Department of Languages & Humanities in Education (DLHE) is to research and nurture the teaching and learning of languages and humanities, while providing an understanding of social and cultural issues that underlie these disciplines. Through its engagement in schools and in society, and by means of research carried out by its members, it seeks to value and promote languages and the arts as fundamental areas within our community, considering them as milestones in every individual’s lifelong learning process.
The Department currently includes the following subject areas: English, French, German, History, Italian, Maltese, Religious Education, Social Studies and Spanish.
Whilst retaining its role at University and within our educational institutions through Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes offered by the Faculty of Education, DLHE engages with education from a holistic perspective. As outlined in the goals presented below, DLHE staff collaborates with policy makers and stakeholders. Academic publications and the production of didactic materials provide an indication of the participation of staff in local and international debates. Furthermore, staff has always shown willingness and enterprise when required to collaborate with other University faculties and, when its contribution has been sought, it helped develop sound educational practices at University (e.g. the DegreePlus programme, how to tackle plagiarism etc.).
DLHE colleagues are also actively involved in the curriculum design for the MTL and have been reflecting on how their past experience, especially in subject-teaching methodology, can reap benefits in the new context represented by this professional Master course.
Currently, there are various challenges being faced in language and humanities education: these include employability issues for teachers in some areas, the downward trends in students studying some of these subjects, and the widespread linguistic, religious, social and cultural diversity present in our society. In this context, helping present and future educators understand and value diversity (e.g. through bi- / multilingualism, intercultural education etc.) makes a difference to their learners’ lives, while developing lifelong attitudes and skills.
Through individual members’ contribution, DLHE also strives to address the changes in the labour market by reflecting on our educational system, both as a service-provider in ITE and as potential contributors to teachers’ and educators’ Continuous Professional Development (CPD).
DLHE will play an active role in the development of mentoring and CPD related to the formation of mentors as will be proposed in the MTL, also in view of the fact that staff has close contact with teachers and educational administrators in the areas of languages and the arts (short-term goal) creating more synergy between those areas in DLHE (e.g. languages) which have common theoretical and practical grounds. This is a goal that can readily be achieved among language specialists, possibly starting by staff involved in foreign language teaching and learning (short-term goal) making our research more readily available to the local / international community and more visible both within the university and in the local community (including the media).
Creating more awareness on the importance of the teaching and learning of languages and the arts at national level (medium-term goal) collaborative research – very much on the lines that recently brought together a number of colleagues who participated in an International Conference on Bilingualism, in which the bilingual medium of instruction in the teaching of English, Italian, French and German were tackled alongside colleagues from DMSTE and Departmet of Primary Education. This could occur if funds were to be obtained via participation in EU-funded projects, as already occurred in the recent past when several DLHE staff members participated in such initiatives (medium-term goal) developing online and blended courses and possibly offering courses following a modular system. This could become a reality if DLHE’s proposal to teach foreign languages across University is given the physical and financial support it requires (long-term goal).
Collaboration with schools and other educational institutions is equally important and signals our presence in the community we are part of and which we address.