On May 26th and 27th, at the Hemus Hotel in Sofia an international conference on “Interculturalism and Bilingualism” was held. Specialists from Bulgaria, Romania and Germany took part in the conference. Organisers were the International Elias Canetti Society and SIETAR Bulgaria. The conference was attended by university lecturers, representatives of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education, regional inspectorates, directors and teachers from schools, representatives of non-governmental organizations, teachers from Bulgarian schools and abroad.
In the conference section “Bilingualism” the training materials, which were developed in the framework of the international Erasmus+ project “Language Against Dropout” with the number 2015-1-BG01 -KA201-014306, were presented. The elaborated learning materials and topic generated great interest among the conference participants. Based on a two-day discussion about the pressing issues of illiteracy and the necessity of specially developed methodologies for teaching bilingual-children, the need for a complex cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary approach to tackling this issue was identified. In this respect some important recommendations/proposals for changes of the Bulgarian educational policy were made:
• Introduction of a supporting Bulgarian language training (“Bulgarian as a second language”) in schools and kindergartens for children with different mother tongue. The scope of the training foresees training at least 4 times per week for 30 minutes in groups of maximum 8 children.
• Introduction and use of specific Bulgarian language diagnostic tests to determine the level of knowledge of the Bulgarian language and thus the need for additional support in Bulgarian language.
• Need to appoint a specialised teacher for “Bulgarian as a second language”
• Need for teacher trainings in “Bulgarian as a second language”, which are to be recommended as a priority
• Need for defining a teacher’s job description for “Bulgarian as a second language”
• Need for making a clear distinction between bilingual children and children with special needs for inclusive education.
• Need for creating an educational standard – a document giving detailed guidance on the content of the Bulgarian language training in Bulgarian schools in Bulgaria and abroad.