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It’s been a while since I posted an article but that’s mainly because it’s been very busy time these past two months. But with that busyness came a lot of progress.

First of all, we completed the transnational EU-funded project, NEPTUNE – better known as HandsOnTurkish. As the project received funding, we, the co-ordinators – Pendragon Educational Publishers – needed to complete a lot of administrative work. This is now done and ready to be submitted to the National Agency, Ecorys, for final approval.

About the Lifelong Learning Programme

The Lifelong Learning Programme from the European Union provides excellent opportunities to develop educational resources which are either too large for one organisation to undertake or might struggle for funding from a purely commercial point of view without governmental support. Just because the market won’t deliver a product, doesn’t mean that it isn’t needed. The Government’s role is often to support projects that have a common good particularly in the areas of education, health and transport.

The idea behind HandsOnTurkish was to allow businesspeople to develop their Turkish language skills and improve their intercultural understanding so that they can properly operate in Turkey and/or take advantage of the growing opportunities in Turkey. The idea was in fact inspired by the plight of a business contact who lost his entire stock in Turkey due to ‘misunderstandings’.

Since adequate materials for such aims don’t currently exist (notwithstanding the urgency of Turkey’s current attractiveness), it was imperative to develop this project. In a world of first-mover advantage, European companies simply could not afford to miss out to American and Chinese companies who are currently and actively trying to woo business.

From the European Union’s perspective, our project is bringing significant impact across five different countries. HandsOnTurkish is available in English, German, Italian, Dutch and French. These languages combined constitute a large percentage of the EU’s economic powerhouse.

Furthermore, we were also aligning our course with the Common European Framework of Reference for Modern Languages (CEF) and with the European Qualifications Framework (EQF).  Both frameworks are fundamental to the free movement of people within the EU. Previously, countries could indirectly erect protectionist measures for employment by refusing to recognise qualifications and achievements from other nations, thereby reducing the chances of foreign job-seekers. These pan-European frameworks ensure that all EU qualifications are accurately referenced and ranked, just like currencies in a bureau de change. For educational providers, the framework has criteria to which one can align the courses.


Online language certification and accreditation

As part of the HandsOnTurkish project, the partners developed a new, innovative system of certification for language learning.

Initially, this was developed for the “First Steps in Turkish” course, which is a short 12-hour online course of the Turkish language and culture. It will also apply to the full course of “Turkish Language, culture and business etiquette”.

Learners can continue learning for free on the HandsOnTurkish site, without registration. This is to ensure that people have an unrestricted opportunity to try out the language without any obligations. This is ideal for people to see whether the language interests them and whether the course content and structure meets their needs.

Learners who wish to have their learning recognised will need to register an account on the site. The registration is needed so that the learner can log in and we can monitor their progress and their time spent on the course which will be used as evidence for the certificate. Any data is, of course, securely protected on the servers, is accessible only by the learner and only serves as measuring stick.

Upon completion of the online course, learners can apply for a certificate of participation from Pendragon Educational Publishers for a small fee. They can also take the test to prove that they have learnt the course content. This is a 40 minute test which covers listening, reading and writing.

After successfully completing the test, the learners will be awarded a certificate and digital badge. This is a unique URL which learners can easily add, with a click of the button, to their LinkedIn profiles or Mozilla BackPack account. As the course is referenced according to the CEF and EQF, future employers or educational institutions can automatically gauge the level of achievement. This is beneficial for both the employee and employer. Furthermore, should the potential employer wish to verify the achievement, he or she can follow the link on the LinkedIn profile and view the unique certificate, the criteria and the achievements.

This is a major breakthrough and will be of particular interest to the main target group, the business community, who will wish to have their learning recognised.

This will also be of great interest to other educational institutions who wish to award certificates of language learning achievement.

An example of the certificate on a LinkedIn profile: