Plurilingualism and the
Intercultural dialogue in the
Marleen Coutuer
Karel de Grote-Hogeschool
Jerusalem, 1 May 2007
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The Union must become the most competitive and
dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world
capable of sustainable economic growth with more and
better jobs and greater social cohesion (European
Council, Lisbon, March 2000).
"Education and Training 2010" integrates all actions
in the fields of education and training at European
level, including vocational education and training
(the "Copenhagen process"). As well, the Bologna
process, initiated in 1999 is crucial in the
development of the European Higher Education
Area. Both contribute actively to the achievement of
the Lisbon objectives and are therefore closely
linked to the "Education and Training 2010" work
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27 EU Members - 23 official languages
български (Bălgarski) - BG - Bulgarian
Čeština - CS - Czech
Dansk - DA - Danish
Deutsch - DE - German
Eesti - ET - Estonian
Elinika - EL - Greek
English - EN
Español - ES – Spanish
Français – FR – French
Gaeilge - GA – Irish
Italiano - IT - Italian
Latviesu valoda - LV - Latvian
Lietuviu kalba - LT - Lithuanian
Magyar - HU - Hungarian
Malti - MT - Maltese
Nederlands - NL - Dutch
Polski - PL - Polish
Português - PT - Portuguese
Română - RO - Romanian
Slovenčina - SK - Slovak
Slovenščina - SL - Slovene
Suomi - FI - Finnish
Svenska - SV - Swedish
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European Day of Languages
The Day has a wide variety of aims following on from those
of the European Year of Languages, in particular:
•Alerting the public to the importance of language learning
and diversifying the range of languages learnt in order to
increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding;
•Promoting the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of
Europe, which must be preserved and fostered;
•Encouraging lifelong language learning
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refers to the presence in a
geographical area, large or small, of
more than one 'variety of language'
i.e. the mode of speaking of a social
group whether it is formally
recognised as a language or not; in
such an area individuals may be
monolingual, speaking only their
own variety.
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refers to the repertoire of varieties of language which
many individuals use, and is therefore the opposite of
monolingualism; it includes the language variety referred
to as 'mother tongue' or 'first language' and any number of
other languages or varieties. Thus in some multilingual
areas some individuals are monolingual and some are
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Eurobarometer 2006
The survey was requested by
Directorate General for Education
and Culture and
coordinated by Directorate General
Press and Communication
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Today the European Union is home to 450
million people from diverse ethnic,cultural and
linguistic backgrounds. The linguistic patterns of
European countries are complex - shaped by
history, geographical factors and the mobility of
people. At present, the European Union recognises
23 official languages and about 60 other
indigenous and non-indigenous languages are
spoken over the geographical area.
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Which languages do you speak well enough
in order to be able to have a conversation excluding
your mother tongue?
At least one language: 56%
At least two languages: 28%
At least three languages: 11%
None: 44%
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European Council Language
Policy Division
The Council of Europe’s activities to promote linguistic diversity and
language learning in the field of education are carried out within the
framework of the European Cultural Convention, (1954) ratified by 48
The Language Policy Division (Strasbourg) implements
intergovernmental medium-term programmes with a special emphasis
on policy development. The Division’s programmes are complemented
by those of the European Centre for Modern Languages (Graz,
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Council of Europe language education policies aim to
PLURILINGUALISM: all are entitled to develop a degree of communicative
ability in a number of languages over their lifetime in accordance with
their needs.
LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY: Europe is multilingual and all its languages are
equally valuable modes of communication and expressions of identity; the
right to use and to learn one’s language(s) is protected in Council of
Europe Conventions
MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING: the opportunity to learn other languages is
an essential condition for intercultural communication and acceptance of
cultural differences
DEMOCRATIC CITIZENSHIP: participation in democratic and social
processes in multilingual societies is facilitated by the plurilingual
competence of individuals
SOCIAL COHESION: equality of opportunity for personal development,
education, employment, mobility, access to information and cultural
enrichment depends on access to language learning throughout life
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European Council Language
Policy Division
Policy instruments
• Policy Guide and Studies : towards
plurilingual education
• Language Education Policy Profiles
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The Common European Framework
of Reference forLanguages:
Learning, Teaching,
The CEF is a key instrument for
establishing a European educational space
in the field of modern languages. Its main
aim is to facilitate transparency and
comparability in the provision of language
education and qualifications. It is availabe
in over 30 language versions.
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Relating Language Examinations to
the CEF: Manual and illustrations of
to help national and international providers of
examinations to relate their certificates and
diplomas to the CEFR. Illustrative material is
being developed for a number of languages.
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European Language Portfolio
The ELP is a personal document in which language
learners can record and reflect on their language
learning and cultural experiences. ELPs vary
according to countries and educational contexts.
However they all share common criteria and are all
examined by a European Validation Committee
which accords an accreditation number.
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EuroIntegrELP project
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Reference Level Descriptions for
National or Regional Languages
The Reference Level Descriptions describe in
detail the linguistic competences for
individual languages corresponding to the six
levels of the CEF. They are particularly
helpful in planning language programmes and
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Policy Guide and Studies: Towards
Plurilingual Education
Aimed at policy deciders, the Guide describes
how language education policies can promote
a global and coherent approach to
plurilingual education. The Guide is
accompanied by a series of thematic studies.
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Language Education Policy Profiles
At the request of national or regional
authorities, the Council of Europe provides
expert assistance with the development of a
Profile – a process of analysis and reflection
leading to proposals to support a global and
coherent approach to language learning and
teaching, and involving all languages in education.
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European Commission
Languages of Europe
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Action Plan: 2004 -2006
• the key objective of extending the benefits of
language learning to all citizens as a
lifelong activity;
• the need to improve the quality of language
teaching at all levels;
• the need to build in Europe an environment
which is really favourable to languages.
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Life long learning
European Commission: Directorate Education and Culture
A new generation of EU programmes for education and training,
youth, culture and citizenship in 2007-2013
For Comenius:
To involve at least three million pupils in joint educational
For Erasmus:
To have supported an overall total of three million individual
participants in student mobility
For Leonardo da Vinci:
To increase placements in enterprises to 80,000 per year
For Grundtvig
To support the mobility of 7,000 individuals involved in adult
education per year
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Languages of School
The Language Policy Division in Strasbourg is launching a new
activity with a view to promoting social cohesion in the follow-up
to the 3rd Summit of Heads of State and Government (Warsaw,
May 2005). It is concerned with the development of effective skills
in the language(s) of instruction which are essential for successful
learning across the whole curriculum.
This project deals with the language(s) of instruction in school
which is most often the national or official language(s) and also the
mother tongue of the majority of students; in a number of contexts
this language is of course their second language where they have a
different mother tongue. Within the wider concept of
plurilingualism and respect for linguistic diversity, the project will
also address the needs of these learners with regard to competence
in the national/official language.
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Language Education Policies
for Minorities and Migrants
The Division carries out reviews of
education policy for minorities in a
number of member states and its
expert assistance is regularly
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Language Education Policies for Minorities and Migrants
An increasing number of countries now require adult migrants to
demonstrate proficiency in the language of the host country before
granting residence or work permits or citizenship. The level of
proficiency required is usually based on the CEFR and a language
test may be obligatory. The approach to testing varies and there is a
considerable difference in the levels of proficiency required –
ranging from A1 to B1 or even B2 (oral) of the CEFR.
The Language Policy Division, in partnership with appropriate
Council of Europe sectors and INGOs with participatory status is
developing policy guidelines for language education and
certification where this is required. The aim is to support all
directly concerned in developing a needs-based approach and in
following best professional practice so as to ensure transparency
and fairness, in particular concerning ‘high stake’ situations
concerning language requirements for citizenship, work or long
term residency purposes.
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Language death
Crystal begins by looking at the scale of the threat
to minority languages. There are debates over the
definition of "language" and estimates of the
number of languages vary, but a figure somewhere
around 6000 is plausible. Perhaps more important
is the distribution of speakers, with 4% of
languages accounting for 96% of people and 25%
having fewer than 1000 speakers. There are
different ways of classifying "danger levels", but
there is no doubt that a large number of languages
face extinction in the immediate future, while in
the longer-term even quite widely spoken
languages may be in danger.
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Language death
Why should we care about language death?
Crystal presents five arguments: from the
general value of diversity, from the value
of languages as expressions of identity, as
repositories of history, as part of the sum of
human knowledge, and as interesting
subjects in their own right. None of these
are likely to convince either aggressive
monolingualists or the apathetic, but
Crystal includes some thought-provoking
details and quotes.
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Language death
How do languages die? Obviously a
language dies if all of its speakers die as
the result of genocide or natural disasters,
or are scattered in such a way as to break
up the language community. More
commonly languages die through cultural
change and language replacement, by
assimilation to a "dominant" culture and
language. This process is broad and
complex, but one major factor is negative
attitudes to a language, both in government
policy and local communities.
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Language death
What can be done about this? Crystal looks first at general needs: gathering
information, raising awareness (both in local communities and in the
international community), and fostering positive community attitudes
(sometimes people don't want to save their own language). Any approach
must promote the authenticity of the whole community (accepting change
and recognising all dialects) and consider language as part of broader
Crystal suggests six key themes in language revitalization: increasing the
prestige, wealth, and power of language speakers; giving the language a
strong presence in the education system; giving the language a written form
and encouraging literacy; and access to electronic technology (the latter
being more of a "possibility" than a reality in most cases). He also argues
for a stronger emphasis on descriptive linguistics and fieldwork, and
stresses the need to build a rounded "revitalization team", involving a broad
range of community leaders, teachers, and other specialists as well as
Language Death
David Crystal (professor of linguistics)
Cambridge University Press 2000
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The Role of English Language
Teaching: Linguistic Imperialism or Linguistic Empowerment?
Over the years, different people have proposed that English
language teaching (ELT) carries with it imperialistic
influences. At times this has been in relation to the
imposition of an outside language on native languages,
resulting in their allocation to a secondary status along with
the cultures they represent. At other times, the teaching of
English was seen as a tool to propagate the economic,
cultural or religious values of dominant world powers.
Counter to this have been other studies, research and theories
which propose either that such imperialism was or is not at
the heart of ELT, or that the relationship between language,
politics and economics has evolved into something different
than it once was. Yet others have held that the English
language classroom serves as the ideal arena in which such
possibilities can be examined by students and teacher alike.
TESL-EJ Forum = teachers of English as a second language
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Higher education
ENLU: European Network for the
Promotion of Language Learning
among all undergraduates
HELP: Higher education Language
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Toda raba
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