Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Martinyuk -- Supranational level of language education policies

Waldemar Martyniyk from ECML started by briefly describing the role of the Council of Europe(http://www.coe.int/) (as opposed to the Council of the European Union, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/).
He then went on to point out that the linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe is a fact, and claimed that it is not a problem to be solved, but offers potential to benefit from.

Martyniuk then discussed the idea of plurilingualism ("plurilingual people living in multilingual societies"). He referred here to the concept of "languaging" the world -- plurilingualism allows for different ways of conceptualising the world.

Plurilingual education, then, aims at producing competencies and skills that, in turn, help produce unrestricted access to good quality education, which, in turn, is a prerequisite for societal cohesion and democratic participation.
Martyniyk suggests that there has been a clear shift towards more supportive policy for "additional languages" in Europe. It seems, however, that at the level of practice, the developments have been somewhat uneven. The Council of Europe is now shifting its focus towards a wider understanding of languages into "languages of schooling" (language competencies required for schooling); not just foreign or classical languages, but regional, minority and migration languages, as well as language as a subject or language(s) in other subjects. This would put all language competence(s) on top of the picture.
Next, Martyniuk went on to discuss different documents and tools for plurilingual and intercultural education (CEFR, ELP, EPOSTL, CARAP, Manual for CEFR, Autobiography Intercultural Encounters).
Questions from the audience:
CEFR has been adapted outside Europe (although it has been developped for Europe); what's your view on this? Answer: Martyniuk sees no problem with that; the concept seems usefult independently of continent. The simplicity of scale is both attractive and dangerous. Maybe it would need to be developped further, to allow for different global understandings.
Co-operation between Council of Europe and the European Council? The major challenge in the difference in the ways in which the organisations operate, the differences in structures. The legal status of the Union has changed with the Lisbon Treaty.
Languages of schooling model: C of E intends to extend the idea of language education beyond the group of foreign languages. Intention of creating a platform of language experts, not just foreign language teachers.
Some references:
The language policy division (www.coe.int/lang)
European Charter for Regional anjd Minority Languages (www.coe.int/minlang)
Language Portfolio (www.coe.int/portfolio)
European Centre for Modern Languages (www.ecml.at)
European Language Gazette (www.ecml.at/gazette)

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