About

The History of the Department of Language Pedagogy and Intercultural Studies

The beginnings of the Department of Language Pedagogy and Intercultural Studies (KLIŠ) date back to 1996. On December 18, 1996, the former Dean of the Faculty of Education at the Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra, doc. PhDr. Ivan J. Szabó, CSc., presented a proposal for the establishment of the Department of Foreign Languages for Primary Schools to the Scientific and Artistic Council of the Faculty of Education. He justified its establishment with the urgent need to increase the number of qualified foreign language teachers for primary schools (grades 1 to 9). The proposal was unanimously approved (Decree no. 24/96) and on February 19, 1997, he issued the Charter of the Department of Foreign Languages for Primary Schools with effect from April 1, 1997.

However, the first year of existence of the newly established department showed that the focus on primary and lower secondary education only could not meet the needs of faculties of Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra nor the demands of society as whole – to supply a sufficient number of qualified foreign language teachers. Therefore, it was necessary to extend the department’s professional focus. In accordance with the Department of Foreign Languages for Primary Schools Statute from April 23, 1998, its intention was to provide the training for students in the following study fields:

  • Master Study Programme: Teacher Training – English/German Language and Literature for Primary Education,
  • Master Study Programme: Teacher Training – English Language and Literature for Lower and Higher Secondary Education (2 subjects in combination),
  • Master Study Programme: Teacher Training – English Language and Literature for Lower and Higher Secondary Education (1 subject study),
  • Further Education: 6-Month Course – extended study of English Language and Literature for university graduates wishing to expand their qualification to teach English or German language and literature,
  • Further Education: 6-Month Course – extended study of English Language and Literature for university graduates – qualified teachers at the 1st and 2nd stages of elementary education.

Parallel to the preparation of qualified language teachers, since its foundation, the department has been responsible for the professional language training of all students of teaching programmes at the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Constantine the Philosopher University. In accordance with this extension of the department’s focus, the name of the department was modified to the Department of Foreign Languages in 1990.

The structure of study programmes provided by the Department of Foreign Languages ​​would not significantly change over the next 5 years. However, the number of staff members as well as students increased significantly. In academic year 2002/2003, eight teachers and three foreign lecturers worked at the Department of Foreign Languages. The department provided professionally focused lessons of English and German language as part of a so-called “common basis” for 658 students (337 students of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and 321 students of the Faculty of Education at Constantine the Philosopher University).

In the profile study fields in the aforementioned academic year, 16 students attended the Master’s Study Programme for Primary Education extended by English and German language, 120 students attended the Master’s Study Programme in General Education Subjects for the 5th-12th grade in a combination of two subjects, 83 students attended the Master’s Study Programme of English Language for grades 5-12 (one subject study) and 32 students attended the extended study course of English Language and Literature for teachers at Primary Schools and grades 5-12. The professional engagement of the Department of Foreign Languages also involved foreign language training for students at the University of the Third Age.

From the beginning of the department’s existence, its staff, led by doc. Mgr. Mária Maliková, CSc., strived to develop international cooperation with partner departments in Europe and beyond. The department has established extensive contacts at the level of bilateral scientific cooperation with Middlesex University in London (UK), Limerick University in Limerick (Ireland), Fontys University of PABO in Eindhoven (Netherlands), Pedagogische Hogeschool in Mechelen (Belgium), Kätholishe University in Leuven (Belgium), and Faculty of Education of Charles University in Prague (Czech Republic). In 1999-2002, the Department of Foreign Languages organised regular student and teacher exchange courses with the Fontys PABO Pedagogical Faculty in Eindhoven (Netherlands).

At the same time, the department started to develop project activities intensively. Under the leadership of doc. Mgr. Mária Maliková, CSc., the department’s staff collaborated on the international project “TEMPUS – JEP European Integration Studies in Support to the EU Accession”. Furthermore, the individual educators also participated in other projects such as “KEGA 3/0163/02 Innovation of Further Education of Teachers for 1st-4th Grades of Primary Schools: Further Study of Foreign Languages” (co-researcher: I. Žemberová, PhD) or “VEGA 1/1429/04 National Literatures in the Age of Globalisation – The Relationship of Particular and Universal in the Literary Work” (co-researcher: prof. PaedDr. S. Pokrivčáková, PhD).

Concerning the number of university study programmes, new act no. 131/2002 and edict no. 2090/2002 required all universities to transform the education system and study programmes in the spirit of the Bologna process into a three-level model. Thus, accreditation of teacher training study programmes was carried out in 2005. The Department of Foreign Languages, led by prof. Mgr. Eva Malá, CSc., has been accredited to provide the following three bachelor study programmes:

  • Teacher Training: English Language and Literature – one subject study (full-time and part-time study)
  • Teacher Training: English Language and Literature – in combination with other subjects (full-time and part-time study)
  • Translation and Interpreting for Regional Development with Focus on the English Language (full-time study)

The staff of the Department of Foreign Languages did not cease in their scientific, research, and project activities, largely based on cooperation with a growing number of foreign partners. The staff of the department participated in international projects, one developmental, two scientific, and five cultural-educational projects funded by the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic. The international engagement of the department has developed beyond the framework of project activities. The Department of Foreign Languages has established long-term partnerships with the Centro Diffusione Lingue Comunitarie in Turin, the Faculty of Education of Masaryk University in Brno, Mary’s College in Belfast, the Pedagogical College in Linz, and many others.

The social development and the dynamically changing situation in the field of foreign language education and training of qualified foreign language teachers have led to a gradual expansion of the profile of pedagogical and scientific research work of the department. This change was reflected in the need to change the name of the department for the second time – to the “Department of Language Pedagogy and Intercultural Studies” (KLIŠ) in January 2009. The new title describes the department’s current professional focus in a more complex way – it focuses not only on the language and methodological training for qualified foreign language teachers but also on the education of scientists in the field of linguodidactics and field didactics, and the professional preparation of intercultural mediators in English Language and Culture study programmes.

Since the establishment of the department, the staff have been involved in the solving of 44 projects of a scientific, research, developmental, and cultural-educational nature, with 13 of them being international. This led to publications of scientific and professional monographs, university textbooks, textbooks for primary schools, studies in scientific and professional journals and collections, performances at national and international conferences, curricula for new subjects, collections of methodical materials and responses to published works.

An integral part of the department’s professional activity was the extensive cooperation with the National Pedagogical Institute in Bratislava, methodological and pedagogical centres as well as with teachers of primary and secondary schools. This cooperation included the organisation of methodological seminars, professional events, guest lectures and, in particular, the organisation of international scientific conferences entitled “Foreign Languages and Cultures at School”. They included methodological workshops for students and teachers in training and were organised by the Department of Language Pedagogy and Intercultural Studies from 2003 to 2013.

The active cooperation of the department with pedagogical practice, the rich scientific research and project activities, numerous international partnerships and the offer of attractive study programmes are also logically reflected in the continuing interest of students in their study at the department. The department is particularly active in the area of scientific education, and currently it has nine doctoral students (three students of full-time and six students of part-time study).

In 2017, the Department of Language Pedagogy and Intercultural Studies began cooperation with the Slovak Chamber of English Language Teachers (SKA). On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of its founding, in cooperation with SKA, the department hosted its third International Conference entitled “Lifelines and Life Skills: ELT for the Real World” on September 22-23, 2017. Within the framework of the conference entitled “Connecting Theory and Practice of Learning Strategies of Critical and Creative Thinking in Education”, which was held in 2017 and 2018, KLIŠ staff were co-organisers and guarantors of the section called “Innovative Trends in Field Didactics of Mother and Foreign Language Education”. In 2018, members of the department participated in the organisation of the conference entitled “I Will Teach in a Modern Way” (BUM) to create a space for presenting modern teaching methods.

References:
Andruška, P. (ed.): 40 rokov Univerzity Konštantína Filozofa v Nitre. Nitra: UKF, 1999. ISBN 80-8050-244-7.
archive materials of UKF v Nitre
archive materials of KLIŠ PF UKF v Nitre