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LETPP Languages in Europe (Theory, Policy & Practice)

Multilingualism has been described as an 'asset for Europe and a shared commitment'. This may, however, be more a vision of what might be than a description of reality. Reality is mediated not only by the vision (what people think), but by policy decisions (laws and regulations) and by performance (what we actually do).

A one year project - LETPP| - has therefore been initiated in order to identify the  conditions which allow good ideas on multilingualism to develop into coherent policy and practice, and also the obstacles to that happening. By policy we mean European, national and regional strategies which promote or inhibit linguistic diversity in social and economic life, and also specific measures which may support that diversity, such as the Lifelong Learning Programme. The two major strands of LETPP| are languages for social cohesion (questions of identity, community and mutual understanding), and languages for intercultural communication (questions of commerce, employability, and international relations). Taken together these underpin the aspiration to create a viable, competitive and democratic society based on principles of diversity, inclusiveness and mutual respect.

Specific stages and events

  • Initial scoping of the key issues
  • Two seminars – one on Languages and Social Cohesion (at the LSE), and one on Languages and Intercultural Communication (at the House of Lords) to establish key questions and an outline for further discussion
  • An international conference - Unlocking the Gates of Languages
  • An on line consultation
  • Dissemination in member states and through transnational networks
  • Proposals for sustained dialogue

Participants will be language practitioners from all sectors, experts and researchers on multilingualism and policy makers and advisers.

Contributors already agreed include Lord Davies (UK Trade Minister), Howard Davies, Director of the LSE, Professor David Little (Trinity College Dublin), Sir Keith Ajegbo (Citizenship Foundation), Francis Gouiller (Inspecteur Général, Paris), Lid King (National Director for Languages, England), Waldemar Martyniuk (ECML) and Professor Joe Lo Bianco, international expert on Language Policy.

The main outcome will be a Report outlining the main issues, current good practice and proposals for future action to overcome obstacles and promote positive conditions where linguistic diversity will flourish.

The project will also lead to the establishment of a working group which will study how to create a network of ongoing support for multilingual policies and to facilitate greater synergy between theory, policy and practice in this sphere.  

Main milestones

  • Review of existing language policies and report - November 2009 – March 2010
  • Seminar on 'Languages and Social Cohesion' (40 invited policy makers, practitioners, stakeholders) - 18 December 2009
  • Seminar on 'Languages and Intercultural Communication' - 4 February 2010
  • Launch of LETPP website - 5 February 2010
  • Publication of “key questions” document - March 2010
  • Conference at LSE “Unlocking the Gates of Languages” - 15/16 April 2010
  • Conference report and on-line consultation - June – September 2010
  • Dissemination Meetings with partners in a range of countries
  • Final report and proposals - October 2010

Seminar on Languages and Social Cohesion, 18 December 2009


Introduction to Seminar|
Francis Goullier – La Politique Linguistique Educative en France|
Lid King – England – Aspirations and Realities|
David Little – "We Don't Do Policy Here" – The Case of Ireland|
Keith Ajegbo – Community Cohesions: Issues, Practice and Teaching Languages|
Dina Mehmedbegović – London Insights|
Hans Sakker – Multilingualism in Utrecht|
Mike Reynolds – Languages and Social Cohesion in Sheffield|



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Seminar on Languages and Social Cohesion: Part 1|
Seminar on Languages and Social Cohesion: Part 2|