Multilingualism is a central EU priority; the AlphaEU project contributes to the further development of this essential educational area by promoting Early Language Learning (ELL) through the development and implementation of ELL practices in a systematic and organised way. The project builds upon theoretical underpinnings that are associated with the way young children become aware about and begin to learn new languages. Research shows that young children learn languages in intuitive ways, such as creative exploration stimulated by curiosity. The younger the children are when they are exposed to different languages, the greater their ability to develop a feeling for the rhythm, phonology, and intonation of these languages. The AlphaEu material is intended to be used mainly within the existing model of “Language Awareness-raising or Exposure”: the central aim is “to develop the perception and recognition of different sounds and concepts of one or more languages and the ability to understand and reproduce them in an interactive way” (EC, 2011).

AlphaEU uses digital media (ICT-supported image, sound, video, animation, hypertext, etc.) to enhance interactivity, stimulate curiosity, and encourage children to explore differences and similarities between languages and begin to formulate general ideas about how languages work. One of the project’s innovative aspects is its equal focus on comparing language symbols (i.e. letters) in correlation to sounds. While ICT is being increasingly used for ELL purposes, AlphaEU is the first project of its kind to utilize ICT for comparing alphabets through digital alphabet books. During the past two decades, the alphabet book genre has bloomed into a diverse body of exciting reading and playing material for young children. Contemporary alphabet books vary from “I Spy” books to themed alphabet books (such as “The City” or “Farm” alphabet) or even more experimental works, like books with performing or singing letters, etc. As the e-book format has reached maturity, now is the time to transfer these appealing alphabet-book ideas into digital form and utilize them for ELL purposes.

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The aim of this Discussion forum is to provide a space for discussion, exchange of ideas, collaboration, and comments among teachers, trainers, curriculum developers, parents/guardians or anyone else who chooses to use the AlphaEU material that is available on the project website upon completion of the project.

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication (communication) reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. [Project Number: 531092-LLP-2012-CY-KA2-KA2MP]