Meeting of the European Commission Platform for Multilingualism

Meeting of the European Commission Platform for Multilingualism

October 17 2014 in Brussels

 Notes of the meeting

 Changes at DGEAC in the new Commission

At the time of the meeting the future positioning of Multilingualism within the new Commission was under consideration. Subsequently, however it is now confirmed that the four officials with a brief for Multilingualism will be attached to the Language Learning Unit at DGEAC.

Updates from the Multilingualism Policy Sector

Report from the recent meeting of the ET2020 Thematic Working Group on Languages in Education and Training

Report from the Transversal Skills Working Group

Linguistic Support for Mobility – demonstration of the newly-developed on-line support for those involved in Erasmus+ Mobility projects.

Initially for Higher Education Students but to be expanded to VET students in 2015.

Developed by a Belgian organisation, the website is offered in six languages – English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch – and comprises assessment of linguistic competence before the overseas placement, on-line support language training as required and linguistic assessment following the placement to measure progress.

The future publication of a compendium of EU-funded Lifelong Learning language projects. Members proposed that, instead of a printed publication which would have limited circulation, it would be more effective to upload the information on the developing discrete Multiculturalism Platform, with direct links to the websites of each project.

Multilingualism: Implementing policies at the European Parliament

 Presentation by Hanna Klimek – Director of the Interpretation Unit.

As Members of the European Parliament have the right to make speeches in their native language, it is the role of the Interpretation Unit to offer interpretation in combinations in all the EU 23 official languages. There is a permanent team of interpreters, but many freelancers are used as required.

Cooperation with the European Centre for Modern Languages

 Michael Armstrong gave an on-line presentation of the work and projects of the European Centre for Modern Languages direct from Graz, Austria. It was agreed that the Multilingualism Platform should work more closely with ECML in the future.

 Discussion on the name, mission, function, administrative support of the CSPM (partly based on the members’ feedback to the questionnaire) as well as visibility of the Platform.

 Everyone agreed that the ECPM should support multilingualism on a regional, national and European level through events and dissemination activities. Proposals were made to disseminate information to a broader audience through leaflets, a website and through the use of social media.

It was agreed that the priorities should centre on:

how mobility can be promoted further so that EU citizens actually experience each other’s language and cultural practices through Eramus+

how the values of social inclusion and integration can be fostered and promoted throughnew methodologies and policies

how to safeguard linguistic diversity and raise awareness as to its value through appropriate language policies

how to protect minority and lesser-used-languages against the dominance of English, e.g. by financing language projects and the production/translation of scientific and literary works into major European languages

how to best support language-learning opportunities for young people and adults

It was proposed that working groups be formed to address ‘urgent’ issues.

Other suggestions included:

more frequent and effective live or virtual communication between delegates (perhaps through branch/regional groups) to plan and monitor areas of work/research

the creation of a website as Google searches of the ECMP give very little information, almost no visibility)

organisation of concrete events (seminars, workshops, etc.) with experts in the field to exchange knowledge and raise awareness

collection, analysis and review of good and bad multilingualism practices

invitation to experts to report on research re multilingualism

create joint projects making use of Erasmus+

The discussion on how to get tangible results, resulted in the following ideas:

using more languages to disseminate information concerning multilingualism projects, so that they are more easily accessed by as many EU citizens as possible

having data collected in order to monitor and assess the effectiveness of existing multilingualism language projects

cross-referencing projects so as to create case studies that may inform others to develop projects, and/or encourage debate

encouraging the development of high proficiency in the mother tongue because it formsthe basis for the learning of other languages

facilitating language learning opportunities among disadvantaged groups (immigrants, school dropouts, senior citizens) through the use of new learning solutions, such as edutainment, the use of the new media and through the use of translation and interpretation services

the development of concrete proposals to facilitate language learning adapted to the personal needs and learning styles of those who are monolingual and/or are still struggling with their first foreign language

translating the documents of the ECPM into all 24 official EU languages

creating a forum to facilitate communication between members of the ECPM and the Ministries of Education and Culture of all member states

Four Work Groups were established and initial discussions determined a work plan for early implementation.

  • WORK GROUP 1: Language & Education
  • WORK GROUP 2: Arts & Culture in translation
  • WORK GROUP 3: Language, Media & Technology
  • WORK GROUP 4: Language in Business & Public Space


Geoff Scaplehorn

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