LISBON — The Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is organizing a week-long workshop in Western Armenian language acquisition. This workshop will advance the Department’s strategic priority of revitalizing Western Armenian. The goal of this gathering is to define tangible outputs and to create working groups tasked with materialising these.

This initiative emerged out of the Conference Innovation in Education: Challenges of Teaching Western Armenian in the 21st Century which was co-organised with INALCO in Paris in the fall of 2015.

The Armenian Communities Department is committed to collaborating with specialists and practitioners in the field to assist with the development and implementation of its programs. As such, the Department has invited 41 participants, most from the field of Western Armenian language teaching, including some 15 individuals who took part in the Paris conference. These individuals bring unique perspectives and are willing to collaborate to develop new and innovative ways to transform language learning.

The transmission of the Western Armenian language to the next generation currently faces major challenges. The Western Armenian speaking community throughout the diaspora needs, in addition to existing schools and teachers, innovative and informal language acquisition methods, contemporary publications and translations of literature for children and adolescents. The community also needs new educational tools, upgraded school curricula, including curricula that integrates art, music and theatre into language teaching. Finally, a digital portal is needed which will enable stakeholders around the diaspora to connect with one another and share best practices.

Workshop participants will begin developing such outputs. Emphasis will be placed on non-traditional methods that have proven to work in the Western Armenian diasporan setting. The workshop does not aim to replace teacher training programs, but to develop complementary tools and methods. It goes beyond analysing problems and offers tangible solutions that can be implemented for the revitalisation of Western Armenian.

The workshop will also be an opportunity for attendees to establish strong channels of communication based on which they can partner with others in their respective communities and to continue the work started during the workshop.

The workshop takes place from July 9-17 in Portugal.

The Department aimed to ensure a well-balanced distribution of the major communities of the diaspora and to maintain diversity across the board. 74% of the participants are women, reflecting the gender ratio in the field of education. 26% are below 30 years of age, 41% are between 30 and 40, and 33% above 40. Many of the participants wear more than one hat: 12% are affiliated with universities (INALCO, Paris; Haigazian University, Beirut; UCLA, Los Angeles); 67% are directly affiliated with formal/informal educational settings; 38% are in leadership positions, 36% are specialists in writing, art, music, theater, special needs education and technology.

The participants are: France: Hasmig Chahinian, Anaid Donabedian, Meline Gazarian, Jirair Jolakian, Chouchane Kerovpyan, Maral Kerovpyan, Sose Manakian, Anouche Mekhsian, Dzovinar Mikirditsian, Anahid Sarkissian. Belgium: Janet Avanesian, Shogher Margosian. Greece: Maral Kurkjian. Portugal: Vahan Kerovpyan. Lebanon: Anke al-Bataineh, Shant Demirjian, Nelly Komolian,Taline Ordoghlian, Hagop Yacoubian. Turkey: Natali Bagdat, Sevan Degirmenciyan, Kayane Gavrilof, Maral Hergel, Arusyak Koc, Narod Kurugoglu, Maral Satar. USA: Chris Bedian, Vahe Berberian, Hagop Gulludjian, Amy Hughes, Shoushan Karapetian, Silva Mesrobian, Serouj Ourishian, Sanan Shirinian. Canada: Lory Abrakian, Hasmig Injejikian, Sonia Kiledjian. Armenia: Christian Batikian, Nairi Khatchadourian, Gevorg Palanjyan, Sevana Tchakerian.

The workshop is organised by Ani Garmiryan, with support from Ani Koulian.

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