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.
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