Key Findings: Languages in further and higher education

Posted on about 5 hours ago by Language Rich Blog

Language Rich Europe research provides a rich source of cross-national insights into multilingualism across the education sectors. You can browse all of the national/ regional profiles or simply focus on further and higher education by reading on:


  • New/primary data was collected directly from the largest 69 Vocational and Education Training (VET) centres in our 67 participating cities: the national language is quite well supported, with 30 out of the 69 VET institutions surveyed offering a wide variety of support programmes in the national language, ranging from basic communication to advanced skills. Twenty-four institutions offer a limited variety of programmes, while 15 of the institutions surveyed offer no support.
  • Sixty-two of the 69 VET institutions surveyed offer foreignlanguages, with 15 reporting that more than four languagesare taught, 22 offering three to four languages, and 25 one to two languages. Forty-one institutions offer a wide variety of programmes, from basic language skills to advanced, while 18 offer basic language skills only. Twenty-six institutions align their programmes with the CEFR.
  • Twenty-five VET institutions offer R/M languages, with 13 fully covering the costs. The countries/regions offering R/M language courses in all three of the VET institutions surveyed are Basque Country, Catalonia, Hungary, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Immigrant languages are only offered in four of the institutions surveyed – one each in Austria, England, Italy and Wales.
  • As expected, English, French, German and Spanish are prominent among foreign languages, with Russian offered as an R/M language in some countries/regions and a foreign language in others. Arabic is also offered in a number of VET institutions. The main offer for R/M languages is from countries/regions where there is more than one official language.
  • New/primary data was gathered on 65 general/public universities across countries/regions. As is to be expected, all of the targeted European universities in our sample cities provide instruction in the national language because in most cases it is the main language of their student population and it is the official state language. However, in the majority of universities surveyed other languages can also be used.
  • The international mobility of students and staff, and the desire to attract a global and diverse student body, appear to be making English the second language of many European universities. Many textbooks are also being written in English.
  • A very high number of universities offer language courses to non-language students, as recommended by the European institutions. The offer is wide, with 31 universities (almost half) giving students the choice of more than four languages. Only eight universities from our sample do not offer non-language students the opportunity to learn other languages. The actual take-up of these courses was beyond the scope of the research.
  • Almost all universities make special efforts to attract  international students. Half also report conscious efforts to attract students with an immigrant background at home.
  • Student mobility is supported financially by European universities but only ten of the universities surveyed make mobility programmes compulsory for language students.

Case study – Multilingual school tournament, Lithuania

Posted on August 13, 2013 by Language Rich Blog

Language Rich Europe promotes the sharing of good practice in the area of multilingualism. On our website, you can read and submit your own case studies.

In this blog post, we look at one such case study from Lithuania, where they seek to promote multilingualism and the learning of a variety of foreign languges through a multilingual tournament.

The first multilingual tournament ‘I speak, you speak – we communicate’ was held in Lithuania in 2012. It brought together school pupils (grades 9 – 11) from all over the country, speaking two or more foreign languages. Pupils took part in tasks including impromptu speaking, dictation, jokes and dubbing of an animation film, as well as a general-knowledge round where questions were asked in English about the countries where the main four contest languages (English, Russian, German and French) are spoken. Other languages such as Italian, Spanish, Ukrainian, Swedish, Chinese, polish, Japanese and Armenian were also represented

Initiated by the Ministry of Education and Science, the British Council and the American International School of Vilnius, a committee of 14 partners was formed. The tournament encouraged students and teachers to learn different languages, to develop their individual plurilingualism and to look at different language learning possibilities.

To read more about this and other case studies, and to submit your own good practice example, visit our website!

Case Study: ‘Take Care’ – A Health Care Language Guide for Migrants in 17 Languages

Posted on August 6, 2013 by Language Rich Blog

According to the Language Rich Europe research, the top provision of multilingual services is, perhaps unsurprisingly, in the tourist sector, with the most widely offered language being English. However, to what extent do cities look at the needs of their inhabitants before deciding which languages to offer and in which services? One of these needs is highlighted by the Language Rich Europe case study on the European Commission-funded project ‘Take Care,’ which seeks to:

[make] health care more accessible and effective for migrants who do not speak the language and are not familiar with the culture nor with the health care system in the host country

The case study highlights the importance of this, stating that the consequences of poor health can affect employability, educational achievement, social integration and job satisfaction, to name a few.

The main product of the project is a Health Care Language guide which provides methods for language learning based on the needs and experiences of the target groups, language tools on health care, and information on the health care systems in each country.

The project is currently being run in Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Germany, Cyprus, Lithuania, Portugual, Romania and Spain, but language materials will be available on the project website in up to 17 languages for use by groups from other European countries.

For more information on this and other projects, and to submit your own good practice case study, visit the Language Rich Europe website.

Learning Languages on Holiday

Posted on August 2, 2013 by Eilidh MacDonald

As a Brit, I admit that we are not generally known for our ability in foreign languages. I often enjoy seeing the surprised looks on people’s faces in Berlin when I speak to them in German. But, according to research, we are getting better. As Anne Merritt writes in the Telegraph:

According to the survey, 59 per cent of British holiday-goers try to use the local language while travelling abroad. But we’re not just struggling to remember our GCSE French; more and more British travellers actively study the local language.’

I am encouraged that only one-in-ten responded that there is no need to speak the local language because everyone speaks English. But it’s not all good news. Recent figures from the Higher Education Funding Council for England show that the number of students accepting places to study modern languages has declined. We might be happy to learn a couple of words to help us order ice cream, but there is clearly a long way to go before the UK can celebrate its plurilingualism. I would love to see the interest tourists show in languages continue once they are back home. Maybe language departments should recruit on the beaches?

Whatever your holiday plans, I hope you are having a great summer and have the opportunity to learn a new language. And if you are one of the hundreds of thousands planning on taking in some shows during the Edinburgh Festivals (the Fringe opens today, the International Festival on 9 August, and the Book Festival on the 10th), you might enjoy a light-hearted introduction to some Scottish words that I wrote for British Council Germany earlier in the summer.

Happy holiday!

ALTE International Conference – 10-11 April 2014

Posted on July 29, 2013 by Language Rich Blog

Language Rich Europe has worked closely with ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe), presenting the project at its 43rd bi-annual meeting and conference at the University of Salamanca in April 2013.

We are now pleased to inform you that the 5th ALTE International Conference will be held in Paris from 10 – 11 April 2014 with the theme Language Assessment for Multilingualism: promoting linguistic diversity and intercultural communication.

Key deadlines include:

- 30 September 2013 – Call for papers closes

- 31 March 2014 – Registration closes

Plenary speakers include Dr Lid King (Director, the Languages Company and UK Language Rich Europe partner), Anne Gallagher (Associate Dean of Arts, Celtic Studies and Philosophy and Director of the Language Centre at the National University of Ireland) and Dr Jessica R.W. Wu (R&D Program Director, The Language Training and Testing Center, Taipei, Taiwan).

You can read more about the conference on the ALTE conference website, where you can also read interviews with the plenary speakers.

11th Annual Conference of EFNIL – Vilnius 27-28 September 2013

Posted on July 25, 2013 by Language Rich Blog

Hosted by:  Lietuviu Kalbos Institutas / Institute of the Lithuanian Language and Valstybine Lietuviu Kalbos Komisija / State Commission for the Lithuanian Language

This year’s general theme, Translation and Interpretation in Europe, looking at translation and interpretation as a means  to overcoming the practical linguistic barriers of multilingualism and also the need to preserve the linguistic diversity of Europe.

Nowadays the need for translation and interpretation is even greater than in the past. The lowering or removal of borders between most European countries, the mobility of people, the spread of mass media and the use of modern communication devices have led to an enormous increase in the contacts between people of different native languages and consequently to an increased demand for linguistic mediation, that is, interpretation and translation. This holds especially true for an extreme case of multilingual contact, the institutions of the European Union, where people speaking more than twenty-three native languages need to communicate on all matters of EU business.

EFNIL, the network of the central language institutions of all states of the European Union and several other European countries, promotes the preservation and further development of European linguistic diversity as a basis of the cultural and social diversity of the continent. Although translation and interpretation proper do not belong to the core business of the member institutions of EFNIL, each of them is aware of the fact that the languages they are mainly concerned with are being used for translation and interpretation and are thus also influenced by these linguistic activities.

Translation and Interpretation in Europe

Representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament will be invited to report on the tasks, practices and experiences of their interpretation and translation services. The proposed working titles for their contributions are:

  • Translation and interpretation (T&I) in the institutions of the EU – theory and practice
  • Legal aspects of translation and interpretation: the right of European citizens
  • Translation and terminology: European aspects

Several experts will be invited to discuss major issues or to give overview reports with regard to the general theme of the conference. Suggested thematic aspects of their contributions are:

  • Cultural history of Europe as a history of translations
  • Literary translation in contemporary Europe
  • Translation and interpretation in business and commerce
  • Machine translation and other tools for translators and interpreters
  • Measures for the quality of translation and interpretation
  • Translation in the context of film synchronization (dubbing and subtitling)

Guest speakers from the EU and invited experts will be contacted by the Executive Committee.

Representatives of EFNIL’s member institutions or specialists of their choice are invited to contribute short reports or discussion papers (20 min.) on any one or any combination of the topics above from the of view point of their national language(s). There will also be a panel discussion on the topic:

  • The importance of  translation and interpretation for the national language(s) in Europe

Members of EFNIL interested in offering a presentation covering some or several of these topics or take part in the panel discussion or suggest a speaker should contact the EFNIL Secretariat ().

Case Study: Taaltaske (‘Language Pack’) – Early Language Learning in Friesland

Posted on July 22, 2013 by Language Rich Blog

Language Rich Europe promotes the sharing of good practice in the area of multilingualism. On our website, you can read and submit your own case studies.

In this post, we focus on one from the Dutch province of Friesland, which is actively promoting early language learning.

Many recommend learning languages as early as possible – improved literacy skills, increased confidence, more effective cognitive skills and a broader cultural understanding are just a few of the benefits often mentioned. New research even suggests that we can begin learning languages before we are born.

In Friesland, the bilingual province of the Netherlands, they take early language learning seriously – issuing a language pack (Taaltaske) to all parents when they register a birth. The pack contains information on raising a bilingual child, a Frisian children’s book and CD with children’s songs.  As the case study on the Language Rich Europe website explains

Young/future Frisian parents in the Province of Fryslân are often not aware of the possibilities of raising their child bilingually. The Taaltaske is a way to explain to them how they can go about raising their child bilingually.

This early introduction to Frisian is supported by formal education, with the language being a compulsory subject in primary schools and many using it as the language of instruction.

Submit your own case study now!

Multilingualism conference – Lithuania, 7-9 November 2013

Posted on July 15, 2013 by Language Rich Blog

On 7-9 November 2013 the Institute of Foreign Languages of Vilnius University will hold the conference ‘Linguistic, Pedagogical and Intercultural Challenges in Tertiary Education’.

Conference themes include linguistic studies, language teaching, teacher training, literature studies, intercultural studies, language projects, CLIL and plurilingual/pluricultural education.

The deadline for submitting abstracts is 15 September 2013. The deadline for submitting articles and registration is the 1 October 2013.

For more information, go to


For information on other multilingualism events happening across Europe, please visit

Key Findings: Languages in Secondary Education

Posted on July 10, 2013 by Language Rich Blog

Language Rich Europe research provides a rich source of cross-national insights into multilingualism across the education sectors. You can browse all the national/regional profiles or simply focus on secondary education by reading on:


■ Additional support in the national language is provided for newcomers either before or during mainstream education in 21 countries/regions, with Denmark, Italy and Ukraine reporting no provision.

■ As expected, all countries/regions surveyed offer foreign languages in both lower and upper secondary education. Significant differences emerge, however, in the number of compulsory languages offered, the range of languages, the monitoring of language skills, the use of CLIL, and the extent to which the CEFR is used to evaluate the level achieved.

■ The only countries/regions to make two languages compulsory at both lower and upper secondary level are Austria, Estonia, France, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Switzerland.

■ As expected, attainment targets in line with the CEFR for foreign languages are much better established in secondary schools than in primary schools in the participating countries/regions, with 13 of them explicitly stating a level to be achieved. B2 seems to be the commonly agreed level for proficiency in the first foreign language, and B1 for the second.

■ Nineteen countries/regions offer regional or minority (R/M) languages within secondary education. The countries/regions not offering R/M language education are Denmark, England, Estonia, Greece and Poland.

■ Eighteen countries/regions monitor the language skills acquired either through national/regional or school-based tests, with only Italy reporting no monitoring. Austria and Wales set no targets for the standard to be achieved, but all other countries/regions do. All countries/regions offer the languages free of charge to all pupils.

■ Few countries/regions are making immigrant language provision available systematically (three in pre-primary and five in primary), and in secondary eight countries/regions out of the 24 responded positively. These are Austria, Denmark, England, Estonia, France, the Netherlands, Scotland and Switzerland.

■ Full state funding is available for immigrant languages in Austria, Denmark, England, the Netherlands and Scotland. In France and Switzerland funding is provided by the countries of origin of immigrant pupils and in Estonia parents meet the costs. The only countries/regions offering immigrant languages in both primary and secondary education are Austria, Denmark, France and Switzerland.

■ The most commonly offered foreign languages are English, German and French, although other European languages such as Spanish and Italian are also offered. Some immigrant languages such as Arabic, Croatian, Polish, Russian and Turkish are offered as optional foreign languages, and Arabic and Turkish have a firm status as examination subjects in secondary schools in France and the Netherlands. Russian is offered widely in Eastern European countries either as an R/M language or as a foreign language.

■ As in primary education, CLIL is widespread in the teaching of R/M languages, but much less so in foreign languages, with only France reporting widespread practice, and 14 other countries/regions reporting localised examples.

■ Foreign language teachers are well qualified, and only in Estonia and Northern Ireland do general classroom teachers teach foreign languages.

■ There is a little more structured support for mobility at secondary level than at primary, with Austria as well as Catalonia reporting that teachers spend a semester abroad as part of their pre service or in-service development. Another 17 countries/regions encourage and support mobility of teachers financially, leaving Estonia, France, Italy, Portugal and Romania as countries where teachers are less likely to spend time in a target language country.

■ In line with EU and CoE recommendations, foreign language teachers in most countries are required to have attained a certain proficiency level in the foreign language and this is measured against CEFR levels in eight countries/regions. C1 appears to be the most common level required, although B2 is considered appropriate in Basque Country.

■ There is a shortage of language teachers in some countries/regions, and special measures are being taken to recruit professionals with appropriate qualifications and to encourage people to qualify as language teachers. The most active countries/regions in teacher recruitment are Scotland, Basque Country, England, Romania and Switzerland, who are all recruiting for teachers in at least three of the four language categories.

AGENDA: multilingualism events

Posted on July 8, 2013 by Language Rich Blog

Interested in multilingualism but stuck where to find a comprehensive agenda for events related to languages? Visit comprehensive and up-to-date agenda. Below is a snapshot of 3 interesting upcoming events:

  • 19th European Symposium on Languages for Special Purposes

Abstract Submission Deadline: 15 January 2013 

Date: 8-10 July 2013

Organisers: Centre for Translation Studies, University of Vienna, under the auspices of UNESCO

Country: Austria

Venue:  Centre for Translation Studies, University of Vienna, Gymnasiumstraße 50, 1190 Vienna, Austria

All request concerning registration, accommodation and travel arrangements should be sent to: Mr. Gerry Schneider, e-mail: , phone: +43 1 4277 17526


  • The 8th Leiden Summer School in Languages and Linguistics organised by the University of Leiden.

The complete programme for the Summer School 2013 can be found here.

To create an individual programme, check the time schedule.
For application, fill in the registration form. If you have any questions concerning the programme or your registration, please contact the Summer School organizer by .

  • The Languages and Linguistics Research Unit of the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER) will hold its 6th Annual International Conference on Languages & Linguistics, 8-11 July 2013, Athens, Greece.

Date: 8-11 July 2013

Organiser: The Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER)

Country: Greece

Venue: Athens

E-mail: [email protected]