Erasmus blogs

5 giorni a Firenze – Erasmus plus project

Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, the centre of Tuscany, a sea of pasta and tomato sauce, tripe and divine wine... All of this now reminds us of our training in Florence.

As part of the Creativity for Innovation project, our party of 5 set off from Zagreb in a mini-van.

The carpooling option is supported by the Erasmus+ projects as a more ecologically-friendly way of travel, so we started on our journey, happy and 'green', early in the morning.

Five employees from Initiative attended the course in Florence, and we were met by two more participants from the Storytelling Centre in Amsterdam, as well as our colleagues from Florence who prepared the course for us.

We arrived in Florence late Sunday night, so after dinner we practically collapsed in bed. In the morning, we headed off for the Europass Teacher Academy training centre, which is located in a historical building in the centre of Florence. We were placed in a classroom with a fresco ceiling, but we soon realised that all buildings in the centre of the city had fresco ceilings, and history was living alongside us in this city.

The program started with an introductory topic for all of our English teachers. Called CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), it is used for all types of lessons in which something is taught in a foreign language. CLIL is an approach in which a foreign language is used as a tool in learning a non-lingual subject in which both the language and subject have a common role. This way, by learning about history, art, culture and food, you can simultaneously learn the language as well.

A successful CLIL lesson should include 4 elements:

CONTENT – advancement in knowledge, skills and comprehension about certain elements of the curriculum

COMMUNICATION – using the language while learning about using the language

COGNITION – developing thinking skills which combine forming ideas (abstract and concrete), comprehension and language

CULTURE – exposure to alternative perspectives and common understandings which deepen our awareness of others and ourselves.

For the lesson to be successful, every teacher must carefully explore the subject they wish to prepare for a CLIL lesson, and expect to have to learn more about the new topics themselves.

They also have to structure the lesson carefully, and know the knowledge level of each participant well so the content can be adapted accordingly. At the end, it is necessary to determine a good way of evaluating the learnt knowledge.

The second topic of our meeting, and also the main one, was creative writing. Creative writing can have pretentious connotations, but with us it luckily awoke our emotions and creativity, which was the reason we came to Florence in the first place. The first day of creative writing was about language, while later we explored writing about the city and art.

Exploring language as a topic for writing, we researched various texts which were inspired by language. Some of them played around with language as a form, some used dialects, others slang. In all these stories, the language influenced someone's character, childhood, or had a significant influence on their life. As an exercise, we dove into some creative writing and memories which tie us to language learning, and the results were that everyone's pieces of writing connected us and made us come together more after sharing personal stories.

This type of exercise can be easily used in activities in which a teacher wants to encourage students to write creatively and freely, while memories emphasise how language has an effect on our emotions.

These exercises are a useful example of how to intertwine writing exercises with the Callan Method, and to stimulate students to think about ideas, their surroundings, and how to encourage them to use place descriptions, experiences, feelings and their senses in writing.

Through cultural activities, we had the opportunity to enjoy fabulous food, strolls through the centre of Florence, botanical garden, museums and sculptures.

Thank you to all our partners for this wonderful experience.

✔This program is co-financed by the Erasmus + program.

Erasmus + enriches lives, broadens horizons 🇪🇺

@Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes





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Projects

Croatian Language Courses for refugees from Ukraine

As the name of our organization says - we have taken the Initiative!

In order not to remain a passive observer and considering language integration as one of the key steps towards social integration, we launched Croatian language courses for refugees.

The initiative came in response to inquiries about the course of Croatian refugees from many refugees from Ukraine, but also from other NGOs working with refugees. Although the course is currently attended only by refugees from Ukraine, it is open to all third-country nationals who can to register at: dzenana@inicijativa.biz.

We are proud that our volunteers have been working with two groups of refugees for the second week in a row, who found themselves in an unenviable situation in Croatia. With our mission of including vulnerable groups in non-formal education, we are happy to have the opportunity to help with this kind of support in integration.

Croatian as a second language courses are held twice a week, and classes are currently taught by four volunteers, but we are happy that applications for volunteering are still arriving. This is showing us that there is empathy everywhere we look, i.e. that citizens are willing to volunteer and set aside time for those who are in dire need of help at this time. Our teacher volunteers are trained in the Callan method.

They are native Croatian speakers using only their native language in teaching. This method, along with the Croatian  curriculum, facilitates teaching of groups in which participants do not speak the same common language, which makes learning the target language (in this case Croatian) faster and more efficient. Since we wanted to provide this opportunity to refugees from all areas of the Republic of Croatia, we organized our classes in an online format.

For several years now, the initiative has been actively involved in the integration of refugees from the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and now Ukraine. We hope that in the future we will continue our work in the direction of successful social integration of all those who, regardless of which country they come from, find their way in our local community.

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Online reviews
Uncategorized

Why Online Reviews Are Crucial For Your Language School Now More Than Ever

Have you ever wondered why students choose one language school over another?

In the past, pre-Covid, the deciding factors for choosing a language school were a combination of the price of the course and the school’s location. 

In the last 12 months, with schools moving online, the main deciding factor for choosing a language school now is online reviews. If you don’t have that many reviews, then you need to start collecting them now. 

Let’s go over why online reviews are crucial for your school now more than ever.

The Facts

 

Did you know that up to 90% of your students will check your reviews before they ever interact with your school? The latest studies have shown that people value reviews so much that they account for 67% of their buying decision!! So you see, getting reviews for your school is extremely important and will only increase in the future.

So here are the main benefits of having great reviews:

  • They improve your SEO (search engine optimisation). This means the more good reviews you have, the easier it will be to be found online. Google wants to connect customers with businesses that have great reviews. 
  • They establish trust. This is the point of reviews. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they do a personal friend. The higher your review score, the more trust you will generate. 
  • They generate more business: Great reviews = more stars = more clicks to your website = more business.
  • Reviews are a great source of feedback, good and bad. Use the positive feedback as inspiration for describing your business. Student feedback can be used in your promotions very effectively. These opinions can help you to describe your courses better, etc. The bad feedback is valid and needs to be addressed. We live in an online world where we need to be completely transparent.

I know when I want to go to a new restaurant or stay at a hotel, join a new gym or go to a new hairdresser, I always read the reviews. They are usually what tips me over to actually choosing any particular one.

How do I get them?

It's simple! Just ask your customers to write a short online review about your school and let them know how important it is to your business.

What to keep in mind:

  • Have believable customer testimonials. They have to be believable, sound authentic and be from real customers. 
  • Ask often, don't just ask once and leave it at that! This needs to become a common practice, every couple of weeks. Motivate your teachers to help.
  • Give your students at least 2 different platforms to leave reviews. Google and Facebook are enough.
  • Respond to your reviews, good and bad. Google want to see that you react to your feedback. Never ignore any review. If they are positive then say 'thank you' and tell them you appreciate the feedback. The same goes for negative reviews: respond, be courteous and polite, acknowledge the complaint and respond in a mature manner. Never get into an argument, however tempting or provoking it may be.
  • Timing is crucial! Let your customer get value from your school first before you ask; this will increase your reviews dramatically. Likewise, don't wait too long either! If they forget the value they received, then they most likely won't leave a review.
  • If, by any chance, you have had a local celebrity coming to your school, be sure to use their photo and review as an endorsement. Put it up on your website.

Try to put yourself in your students' shoes. Reviews from your present and past students provide proof for them to see. One particular review might be all it takes to push someone from just thinking about using your school to actually becoming a paying student.

What to do next

Send an email to your students asking them to leave an online review on your Facebook page or on Google. It takes them just a few minutes and, if they really do like your company, they'll have no problem sharing their experience with others. 

You could do this in the following way:

Send out a survey to your customers, asking them to rate different aspects of your service. You can use this information to improve or tweak things to make your students happier. 

At the end of the survey, you could say, "If you are happy with our service, leave us a review on Facebook!", with a link for them to click. It's easy for them to do, and because they've just been thinking about your business while answering those questions, they're more likely to leave a review right there and then.


The purpose of these quotes is to drive people to your business. Pick and choose the best ones you get and put them on your website as promotion material for everyone to see.

If you need help with your school's marketing, check out our Digital Marketing course for Schools and Educational Organisations here

Do You Want MORE Full Classes in 2021/2022? 


Learn A Simple Yet Powerful Marketing Framework That

Will Get Your School Up to  50% More Bookings

marketing for schools

The next workshop starts on the 13th of September at 2pm CET

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