As the number of university students taking part in exchange programs abroad increases, students are becoming more aware of the importance not only of improving their general language skills, but also of developing academic language skills that will prepare them for their stay and study in transnational higher education contexts. Concurrently, the growth and development of information and communication technologies (ICT) has allowed materials developers to create a wider range of interactive and dynamic learning materials which learners can easily access whenever they want, wherever they are, choosing the activities they wish to focus on and working at their own pace. Communicating in Multilingual Contexts (CMC; www.cmcproject.it) is an open access Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which offers two modules in seven different languages containing innovative language activities specifically created to meet the needs of mobility students prior to taking part in exchange programs abroad. While the materials in the different languages follow common guidelines, they are unique in that they reflect the different linguistic, social and cultural aspects of each country. Indeed CMC also aims at promoting linguistic and cultural diversity as well as developing multicultural awareness in accordance with EU policies.
Similarly, an increasing demand on the part of employers for professionals who have a good command of foreign languages has led to a need for more material which focuses on professional language skills. Studies have in fact shown that poor language skills present an obstacle for companies to market and sell their products, while plurilingualism can have a positive impact on growth and jobs in Europe by enhancing cross-border trade and export. Thus, as a follow-up project, the Communicating in Multilingual Contexts meets the Enterprises project (CMC_E; www.cmceproject.it) provides language learning materials aimed at developing key professional language skills that Erasmus Placement students, university leavers and in-service enterprise workers can use to become more competitive and better fulfill their job responsibilities. The didactic activities are based on the results of a needs analysis survey carried out among enterprises, social enterprises and local institutions in each of the countries in which the six participating universities are located.
This article offers a brief description of the CMC website and outlines the objectives and the general organization of the CMC_E materials, focusing in particular on the results of the needs analysis survey conducted and on how the use of ICT based learning materials can encourage student and professional mobility.
About the authors
Carmen Argondizzo is Professor of English Linguistics at the University of Calabria (Italy), where she teaches students majoring in Economics, Business Administration and Political Science. Her research interests focus on discourse analysis in the field of Language for Special Purposes and the related pedagogical implications, considered from a humanistic perspective. She is president of the Language Centre at the University of Calabria, where she coordinates European projects aimed at enhancing students' autonomous language learning in the academic, business and socio-economic-political sectors.
Jean Jimenez is Researcher in Linguistics at the University of Calabria (Italy), where she teaches English for Academic Purposes and English for Specific Purposes. She holds an MA in TEFL from the University of Reading and is currently working on a PhD in Applied Linguistics at Lancaster University. Her research interests include CALL, corrective feedback and testing.
© by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston