While volunteering in Italy or another country in Europe in the ESC program, learning the local language is an essential part of the “whole experience”. In our timetable, we have a certain number of hours per week dedicated to formal language learning. It can happen in different ways: going to the local language school and participating to the Italian classes or using the OLS platform designed to help Erasmus+ participants in their language learning.
The OLS (Online Language Support) platform is design for young Europeans participating in different Erasmus+ programs; for higher education students, for vocational education and training learners and for ESC volunteers. The platform is available in 24 different European languages and if the language you are supposed to learn is not supported by OLS, you will get some other kind of support of course. The platform is completely free for the users and provides a wide range of activities related to language and cultural learning. Usually the training on the platform complements face-to-face learning and gives you the possibility to improve your language skills outside the classroom.
On the platform, you can take a level test in the language your are going to use abroad and that way determine from which level to start your learning path. The platform is quite flexible and you can work at your own pace and where ever you want. The platform also provides MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) and online tutoring with native speakers. After your stay abroad, you will do the final assessment which allows you to discover your improvement and on which level you are after the time abroad.
This is a great tool to promote linguistic diversity and support young peoples language learning and intercultural competencies. Still, to get most out of your time abroad, formal language learning is not the only way. I encourage everyone to use the local language as much as you can, with locals, with your new friends, inside and outside the classroom. The OLS platform is a great support but I still believe that the most of the learning happens when socializing with others informally.