Universita Degli Studi Di Parma
The University of Parma is a State University. As such, it is self-governing and has administrative, organisational, and accountancy autonomy, while providing tailored services for students. The University holds 9 Departments, 39 First Cycle Degree Courses, 6 Single Cycle Degree Courses, 41 Second Cycle Degree Courses (5 of which entirely held in English), as well as many Postgraduate schools, Teacher Training courses, several Master Programmes and PhDs.
The ideal size of the University (25,000 students, with more than 5,000 graduates per year and about 1,700 faculty and staff members), together with the quality of life in Parma has always attracted a large number of students from all over Italy. More than two-thirds of our registered students come from outside of Parma and its Province: for this reason, the University deserves top ranking for attracting the most non-resident students nationwide.
The services and facilities of the University of Parma attract an ever-growing number of students. There are information offices and career counselling services to help students with their university-related choices, a strong international network for teaching activities and research, and a lively exchange of students thanks to community programmes and scholarships. Libraries, computer laboratories and Internet access points, student residences and canteens, part-time jobs, cultural activities, a toll-free number and post-graduation career counselling are all available to students – along with interviews and specific courses to help our graduates to find jobs. Many facilities are available to students to enhance the quality of their studies and university life. Some of these are tailor-made services for disabled students and language courses at the Foreign Language Centre. The present project will be managed by the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and Cultural Industries of the University of Parma. The Department is the core and fundamental reference point in the University of Parma for research in the fields of humanities, social sciences and the creative arts. It bases itself on a shared cultural objective, focused on the dialogue between tradition and contemporaneity and with the aim of the continual updating of knowledge.
Within the Department, the traditional and historical subject areas of the University are now responding to the call to renew themselves in the face of the challenges posed by both the present and the future. Their common and characterising trait is the adoption and practice of a critical and epistemological approach, together with the contemplation of educational and developmental processes, and institutional dynamics, intended from both a diachronic and synchronic point of view.
The different activities carried out by the Department aim to deepen and promote, across all subject areas, intercultural relations and exchanges: The forms and processes of communication; an attention to diversity and identity and their relative explanatory models; the representation and models of reality, as well as their transmission through documents, images, texts and translations; the critical confrontation of ideas; and the memory, narration and transmission of cultural heritage. Among the most relevant areas of study promoted by the Department are social and educational inclusion, foreign language teaching and learning, distance education.
The Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and Cultural Industries fosters interaction between research, didactics and “Third Mission” activities, in order to promote the study and the transmission of cultural heritage and knowledge in the diverse subject areas and multidisciplinary fields within it. The ultimate aim is to develop a dialogue between cultures and people. Among the “Third Mission” activities, teacher training is one of the most relevant areas.
The Mission of the Department is essentially based on the broadening and diffusion of different forms of knowledge, from past to new ideas, which has the ability to turn the individual into an aware member of national and international society, the protagonist of cultural development and its dispersion in civil society. With the aim of contributing to the progress of knowledge in the different fields of research in humanities, social science and the creativity arts, the Department has become promoter of a culture based on the value of the natural and cultural environment, of the critical confrontation of ideas, and the communication of these experiences through words and images.
All the activities of the Department aim to offer a definitive answer to the questions of culture, accurate information and the responsible use of new forms of communication, that the city, the local area and society all pose to the University.
The Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and Cultural Industries of the University of Parma includes the “Laboratorio di Glottodidattica” (Educational Linguistics Lab), which gathers research fellows interested in language teaching and learning. The main areas of study covered by the Lab are: innovation in foreign language teaching and learning, CLIL, Italian for foreigners, intercultural communication. Another important area is digital innovation, thanks to the collaboration with the E learning and Multimedia Centre of the University of Parma.
The Lab has also founded the ELICom Research Group, which gathers researchers and experienced professionals interested in inclusive language education and communication, with particular reference to the inclusion of learners with linguistic disadvantages due to communication and language disorders or learning difficulties. ELICom embraces the theoretical stance promoted by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, which views disabilities as a non-optimal relationship between a person’s health condition and the environment. As a consequence, ELICom members are interested in designing learning environments and methodologies that are accessible to all learners, with special attention to those barriers that may prevent students with peculiar health conditions (e.g. language disorders) from success in language learning. Here are some of the key-activities carried out by the Lab in the areas relevant for this project within the last year:
– Partnership agreement with the Erickson Centre, a leading national company in publishing, software creation, training and research in the fields of teaching, education, learning disabilities, special needs, applied and clinical psychology, social work and welfare. The partnership aims to develop innovative and inclusive tools for foreign language teachers in Italy combining research and practice, and involves the collaboration with other leading foreign language publishers (Oxford University Press and Rizzoli Languages).
– Organisation of a scientific conference on the topic of inclusive language education, which took place in Parma in September 2019 and gathered 40 speakers and more than 200 participants.
– Launch of the Certificate of Language Learning Expert (CEdAL), a specific qualification for language teachers and tutors who wish to gain the professional skills for supporting special needs students in the process of language learning. The Certificate is the main outcome of a research project on the key-competencies for inclusive language education carried out by the Lab.
– Design of an English language course for students with dyslexia and other learning difficulties at the University of Parma in order to help them meet the foreign language requirements. The course will be delivered in the next few months and will be monitored in order to gather experimental data on the experience and linguistic progress of the participants.
The key-persons involved in this particular project are the following:
Michele Daloiso, associate professor of Educational Linguistics at the University of Parma and coordinator of the ELICom Research Group. He has conducted extensive research in communication, language and learning disorders. He is also the author of almost 100 scientific publications, some of which address the issues of inclusive language teaching. One of his most recent publications is the monograph “Supporting Learners with Dyslexia in the ELT Classroom” (2017, Oxford University Press), winner of the Ben Warren Trust Prize e finalist at the ELTons Innovation Awards of the British Council. Prof. Daloiso has also worked as scientific consultant in his areas of expertise. Among the institutions he collaborated with, a special mention goes to the Italian Dyslexia Association, Oxford University Press, Erickson Centre, the Knowledge Department of the Autonomous Province of Trento.
Andrea Ghirarduzzi currently works as a Language Teacher of Italian and English as foreign languages at the University of Parma. His academic interests include Italian dialectology, cognitive linguistics and inclusive language education. In the last few years he has been working on the design and implementation of English courses for students with dyslexia.
Christopher Mc Donnell
Christopher McDonnell is a Master’s student in Language Sciences and Cultural Studies for Special Needs at the University of Parma and an EFL teacher. His interests cover a wide range of topics in the domain of inclusive language education, including the creation of accessible teaching materials, the development of spoken language proficiency and the role of anxiety in language learning.