11th EFNIL ANNUAL CONFERENCE
24th-26th October 2011, London, United Kingdom
Host: British Council
THE ROLE OF LANGUAGE EDUCATION IN CREATING A MULTILINGUAL EUROPE
The promotion of multilingualism by the Council of the European Union and other official European bodies is based on the understanding that linguistic and cultural diversity, which constitute a shared heritage, a wealth, a challenge and an asset for Europe, are synonymous with European identity. As such, the knowledge and learning of languages is viewed as a catalyst for social integration and cohesion, helping mutual understanding between the peoples of Europe and contributing to their effective participation in the European knowledge society. Moreover, language learning is considered of utmost importance for the creation of a mobile workforce in Europe which can contribute to the competitiveness of its economy. For this reason, in its “Resolution on a European strategy for multilingualism” (2008), the Council of the E.U. invites member states of the Union to promote multilingualism by increasing awareness of the benefits of language diversity and language learning, especially among students. It also encourages member states to show respect for the language and culture of students’ origin. The Council of the E.U. urges states to strengthen lifelong language learning from early childhood to adulthood and devote particular attention to the further training of language teachers. Last but not least, it invites member states to promote E.U. languages across the world –including the less widely used European languages, as this represents an important contribution to multilingualism.
This conference, organised by EFNIL and hosted by the British Council in the UK, is underlined by the need to raise awareness regarding the value of language education for plurilingualism in Europe, and at the same time to respond to its basic mission which is to safeguard the languages of Europe and help them flourish even further. Within this framework, while this conference views multilingualism positively, it is also well aware of the fact that the notion and conditions of multilingualism are not apolitical and that, therefore, it should be encouraged in ways which respect the member states’ complicated socio-political realities of past and present, and the richness of their languages. Thus, on a practical level, the conference will attempt, on the one hand, to assemble information about how each member state is coping with its linguistic conditions while also trying to satisfy new demands regarding language education for multilingualism. On the other hand, it hopes to create conditions for sharing ideas on how to collaborate in building “an environment in Europe that is favourable to languages by embracing linguistic diversity, building language-friendly communities, and making language learning easier.”
In the context of this Conference:
· A representative of the European Commission will be invited to outline the E.U. strategy (and funding) for the promotion of multilingualism 2013-2020
· Invited experts will be invited to discuss issues such as the following:
o Education for empowerment in multilingual communities
o Critiquing monolingual practices in mainstream (foreign) language teaching, learning and testing in Europe.
o The plurilingual subject: are there enhanced opportunities, risks and/or constraints?
· Representatives of the members institutions of EFNIL or specialists of their choice are invited to make country reports based on any one or any combination of the questions below:
1. Which are the official foreign language education policies in your country? Are there plans and strategies for policy implementation?
2. Which languages are offered in schools as part of curricula in schools and university programmes? Are there recent efforts to broaden the selection of languages taught at different levels of education -including recognised languages which are less widely used?
3. What types of support is provided to migrant students for the teaching and certification of competence in the language of the host country? How are immigrant children or children of immigrant families supported to maintain or maintain respect for their home/ community language and culture?
4. What types of opportunities are there for regular updating of foreign language and communication skills for youngsters and adults in formal, non-formal and informal contexts, what kinds of e-learning, self-access and distance learning programmes for foreign languages?
5. Are there any official links between national language(s) education and foreign language instruction? And is there any support within or outside the official education system for support to varieties of the official language (dialects)?
6. Are there special schools or programmes in your country for multilingual education? How do they operate and what are the results? And are you aware of language teaching approaches favouring multilingual competence (e.g., based on the inter-comprehension of related languages or using CLIL), which are being used with positive results in foreign language programmes of your country?
7. What types of language learner assessment tools (e.g., the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and the Europass Language, Passport, the European Indicator of Language Competence) are being used widely and in which contexts?
8. Which are the most common types of European mobility programmes and educational cooperation programmes for school and university students, for adult language learners, for teachers and language teachers in particular?
As a result of this conference, where some of the central issues concerning languages and education will be discussed, EFNIL hopes to provide related guidelines and principles, and to promote the need for clear statements on language policy in relation to education, so that Europe reaches its goals with regard to plurilingual citizenry.