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Languages for social cohesion

Language education in a multilingual and multicultural Europe

Les langues pour la cohésion sociale

L'éducation aux langues dans une Europe multilingue et multiculturelle

Valuing All Languages in Europe

Project co-ordinators:

Joanna McPake and Teresa Tinsley

Project team: Peter Broeder, Laura Mijares, Sirkku Latomaa, Waldemar Martyniuk


ECML Research and Development reports series

Focusing its work on promoting innovative approaches in language education since 1995, the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) of the Council of Europe plays a significant role in disseminating good practice and assisting in its implementation in member states.

The ECML runs research and development projects within the framework of medium-term programmes of activities. These projects are led by international teams of experts and concentrate mainly on training multipliers, promoting professional teacher development and setting up expert networks. The ECML’s reports and publications, which are the results of these projects, illustrate the dedication and active involvement of all those who participated in them, particularly the project co-ordination teams.

The overall title of the ECML’s second medium-term programme (2004-2007) is “Languages for social cohesion – Language education in a multilingual and multicultural Europe”. This thematic approach should enable us to deal with one of the major challenges our societies have to face at the beginning of the 21st century, highlighting the role of language education in improving mutual understanding and respect among the citizens of Europe.

*** Set up in Graz, Austria, the ECML is an “Enlarged Partial Agreement” of the Council of Europe to which thirty-three countries have currently subscribed1. Inspired by the fundamental values of the Council of Europe, the ECML promotes linguistic and cultural diversity and fosters plurilingualism and pluriculturalism among the citizens living in Europe. Its activities are complementary to those of the Language Policy Division, the Council of Europe unit responsible for the development of policies and planning tools in the field of language education.

For further information on the ECML and its publications:

European Centre for Modern Languages Nikolaiplatz 4 A-8020 Graz http://www.ecml.at The 33 member states of the Enlarged Partial Agreement of the ECML are: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, United Kingdom.

Valuing All Languages in Europe

Project co-ordinators:

Joanna McPake and Teresa Tinsley

Project team:

Peter Broeder, Laura Mijares, Sirkku Latomaa, Waldemar Martyniuk European Centre for Modern Languages © Council of Europe, 2007 Table of contents Chapter 1: Valuing All Languages in Europe

1. Europe’s additional languages

2. 20th century policy for additional languages: monolingual and separatist

3. 21st century policy: plurilingual and comprehensive

4. Additional languages – a valuable resource for Europe

5. The VALEUR Project: challenges and opportunities for additional languages................ 11 Chapter 2: VALEUR project: aims and methods

1. Aims of the VALEUR project

2. History of the project

3. Data collection and analysis

Chapter 3: A developmental perspective on additional language education

1. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

2. Armenia

3. Austria

4. Estonia

5. Finland

6. The Netherlands

7. Spain

8. Conclusions

Chapter 4: Europe’s additional languages

1. Counting languages: what, how and why?

2. What is a language?

3. Methods for establishing the range of languages in use

4. Purposes of collecting data on languages in use

5. The VALEUR language map

6. Implications

Chapter 5: Making provision for additional languages

1. The rationale for making provision

2. Constructing the map

3. Contours of the provision map

4. A more detailed picture: three case studies

5. Making provision for additional languages

Chapter 6: Good practice in supporting additional language learning

1. Defining ‘good practice’

2. Supportive structures

3. Developing teacher training and teaching materials

4. Recognising progression and attainment

5. Revitalising languages

6. Conclusions

Chapter 7: Valuing all languages in Europe:

policy in support of enhanced provision for additional languages

1. Introduction

2. Council of Europe language education policy: guidance for future developments........... 47

3. Language education instruments in support of additional language learning.................. 49

4. In conclusion



Chapter 1: Valuing All Languages in Europe

1. Europe’s additional languages

–  –  –

The recognition that linguistic diversity is a valuable asset is the starting point for the VALEUR (Valuing All Languages in Europe) project, which focuses on Europe’s additional languages. We have adopted this term to refer to all languages in use in a society, apart from the official, national or dominant language(s) (hereafter referred to as dominant languages). In other words, they include what are sometimes referred to as regional or minority languages – the languages of long-established communities (e.g. Saami in Finland or Basque in Spain); migrant languages – the languages of more recently established communities, immigrants and refugees (e.g. Panjabi in the UK, Turkish in the Netherlands, etc.); non-territorial languages – the languages of travellers and historically displaced groups (e.g. Romani and Yiddish, across Europe); and sign languages – the languages of deaf people and hearing people who communicate with them (e.g. the various sign languages in use in Europe).

Policy and practice relating to provision for the learning and teaching of additional languages have tended to develop separately and unevenly. While there has been renewed interest and increased support for provision for many of Europe’s regional/ minority languages in recent years, particularly following the introduction of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (Council of Europe, 1992), awareness of issues relating to provision for the other groups is not as great, and developments have tended to be haphazard and disconnected.

For this reason we sought to adopt, in the VALEUR project, an inclusive term covering all Europe’s additional languages, which would have shared validity across Europe. The term ‘additional languages’ was agreed during the course of the project and we discuss this further in Chapters 2 and 3. We believe that there is much to be gained in adopting the inclusive definition we propose, because, across Europe, individuals, families and communities using additional languages, as well as the dominant language(s) of the state in which they live, have important characteristics in common. They are, by definition, plurilingual – using two or more languages in their daily lives – and for this reason, have to make decisions about the best way to educate their children, in order for them to acquire formal competences in both or all their languages. Depending on the languages in question, and the area in which they live, plurilinguals may have the opportunity to educate their children wholly in an additional language; to educate them bilingually, in schools in which the dominant and the additional languages are both used as media of education; to give them the opportunity to study the additional language as a curricular subject (sometimes it may be presented as though it were a ‘foreign’ language); or to learn the language in afterschool or weekend classes, offered by the education authorities or organised locally by the community concerned. Some children – perhaps the majority of those growing up plurilingually in Europe – do not have opportunities to study their additional languages formally at all; while even those who do may not encounter provision which meets their needs and aspirations, or which provides them with outcomes valued by the wider society in which they live. This should be a matter of concern for all involved in the development of language education across Europe, because additional languages, like the various dominant languages of Europe, represent a rich resource both for the communities which use them and for Europe as a whole.

2. 20th century policy for additional languages:monolingual and separatist

A historical analysis of European policy (from both the Council of Europe and the European Union) concerned with educational provision for additional languages can be categorised as a shift from a 20th century monolingual and separatist starting point to a 21st century plurilingual and comprehensive perspective.

Policies developed in the latter part of the 20th century can be characterised as monolingual – or monolinguist – in that they tend to assume that everyone has one ‘first language’ or ‘mother tongue’ and that everyone will therefore acquire second (and subsequent) languages in similar ways (through some kind of formal provision), and will have similar goals. This was as true for children whose ‘first’ language was (one of) the dominant language(s) of the state in which they lived as it was for those whose ‘first’ language was an additional language, although emphasis on the outcomes of provision differed. Those from additional language backgrounds were expected to achieve high levels of fluency in their ‘second’ languages – and the perception that many failed to do so was seen as a significant problem – while there was little or no interest in their retention or development of competences in their ‘first’ languages. In contrast, those whose ‘first’ language was (one of) the dominant language(s) were expected to develop high levels of formal competence (particularly high levels of literacy) in this language; acquiring high levels of competence in the ‘second’ language though seen as desirable was not essential. Effectively, monolingual policies tended to produce monolingual (or near monolingual) outcomes – only relatively small numbers of those from the dominant community would become highly competent in other languages, while those from communities in which additional languages were used often became more competent in the dominant language, retaining only residual competence in their additional language(s).

Policies of this period relating specifically to additional languages can also be characterised as separatist.

Additional language education was seen as relating to many small, often isolated, languages or groups of languages whose learners had little or nothing in common with each other. We have already identified the principal categories established at this time – regional/ minority, migrant, non-territorial and sign languages – and note that not only was there a failure to link the needs and aspirations of learners of these languages to the wider context (a Europe which had always been multilingual, but where both the extent of linguistic diversity and of concomitant plurilingualism were rapidly increasing), but that in fact, policy concerning provision for these languages was often seen as the preserve of a disparate group of special interest bodies.

So, for example, responsibility for Europe-wide policy and provision for regional/ minority languages is shared by a number of organisations. The European Parliament established the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages in 1982 to support linguistic diversity in Europe through the provision of information and advice; and the European MERCATOR Network in 1987, to conduct research into the status and use of regional/ minority languages. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 1992: this sets out a range of measures to facilitate and encourage the use of specific regional or minority languages in public life, including education.

In contrast, policy for migrant languages was variously determined by groups concerned with the mobility of labour forces across Europe, those concerned with the social integration of immigrants and refugees, or those involved in the development of multicultural/ anti-racist policy. One of the earliest (1977) European Economic Community directives supporting the teaching of migrant languages is concerned with the education of the children of migrant workers (Directive 77/486/EEC: Article 3).

However, few countries adopted this approach, and evaluations conducted 20 years later (Bekemans and Ortiz de Urbina, 1997; Broeder and Extra, 1998) found very little effective provision. The former study identified greater support for ‘intercultural education’ for all students, intended both to support the integration of children of immigrant origin into host nation schools, and ultimately into European society;

and also to tackle racism and xenophobia among the general population. The latter concluded that considerably more attention had been paid to the development of provision to teach the language of the host country than to migrant languages.

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