Language Rich Europe launches consultation to improve language learning and support multilingualism
The Language Rich Europe consortium has released the initial draft of a research publication which analyses trends in language policies and practices in 24 countries and regions in Europe. The survey covers languages in education, the media, cities and business.
Over the next 9 months, newly-formed networks of language stakeholders in each country will come together in a series of over 80 workshops to discuss the findings and develop recommendations at regional, national and European levels. These will be presented to policy makers in March 2013 in Brussels.
The Language Rich Europe project is co-funded by the European Commission and managed by the British Council. The research was carried out by Tilburg University’s Babylon Centre for Studies of the Multicultural Society, working with partner institutions and experts in participating countries.
Issues to be explored through the project include:
How do we address the apparent shortage of language teachers?
How can we motivate people to learn languages at all stages of their lives?
How do we ensure that a broad range of languages is offered at school?
How can we teach other languages through subjects such as Geography and History?
How can cities ensure that they are meeting the language needs of their citizens and visitors?
How can companies get more involved in language education?
Key findings in the study include:
- There is a shortage of language teachers in some countries/regions, and special recruitment campaigns are in place
- While traditional modern foreign languages such as English, French, German and Spanish are commonly offered in primary and secondary education, very few countries offer students the opportunity to learn languages from outside Europe
- Learning languages through subjects such as Geography and History is becoming more widespread, but is far from common practice
- Of the companies surveyed, 83% use language skills as a factor in recruitment. However, 70% do not keep a record of staff language skills
- Two-thirds of the cities surveyed report that they are able to offer a number of public services in three or more languages while 37% make it a policy to include language skills in staff job descriptions and 29% provide language training to staff. The 5 cities (out of 63) with the most developed language policies according to the survey are Barcelona, Krakow, London, Milan and Vienna
Martin Hope, LRE Project Director, said:
Through Language Rich Europe we aim to promote greater cooperation between policy makers and practitioners in Europe…to ensure that languages and cultural exchange continue to be promoted and encouraged at school, university and in broader society. This is essential if Europeans of all ages are to develop a broader international outlook, and if Europe as a whole is to position itself successfully to do business with the world’s emerging economic powers in the 21st century.
For further information about Language Rich Europe or to interview Martin Hope, LRE Project Director, please contact David Sorrentino on +32 (0) 2 554 0465 or e-mail david [dot] sorrentino [at] britishcouncil [dot] be.
For more about LRE and to use the online tool:
www.language-rich.eu | Twitter tag: #languagerich
About Language Rich Europe
- Language Rich Europe is a project co-funded by the European Commission which promotes knowledge sharing about good policy and practice in language learning and teaching across Europe, and encourages Europeans to learn more languages at all stages of their lives. The project focuses on the use of languages in education, media, public services and business.
- The survey covers 15 EU member states - Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom - plus Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland and Ukraine. In Spain additional research was done for Catalonia and the Basque Country. In the UK, research was done separately for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In the Netherlands additional research was done in Friesland.
- In further and higher education 69 VET institutions and 65 universities were surveyed from participating countries/regions
- In the domain of public services and spaces, 63 cities were surveyed from participating countries/regions
- In business, 484 companies were surveyed in 4 sectors: banks, hotels, supermarkets and the construction industry from participating countries/regions.
- Language Rich Europe is a knowledge exchange opportunity for professionals working in education, media, public services and business