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Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Promoting Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity: an Action Plan 2004 - 2006

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Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Promoting Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity: an Action Plan 2004 - 2006 /* COM/2003/0449 final */


COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS - Promoting Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity: An Action Plan 2004 - 2006

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

1. The context

2. Consultation

3. A shared responsibility

4. The Action Plan

SECTION 1

I. LIFE-LONG LANGUAGE LEARNING

1. 'Mother tongue plus two other languages': making an early start

2. Language learning in secondary education and training

3. Language Learning in Higher Education

4. Adult language learning

5. Language Learners with special needs

6. Range of languages.

II. BETTER LANGUAGE TEACHING

1. The language-friendly school

2. The Languages Classroom

3. Language teacher training

4. Supply of language teachers

5. Training teachers of other subjects

6. Testing language skills

III. BUILDING A LANGUAGE-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT

1. An inclusive approach to linguistic diversity

2. Building language-friendly communities

3. Improving supply and take-up of language learning

IV A FRAMEWORK FOR PROGRESS

SECTION 2: ACTIONS PROPOSED FOR 2004 - 2006

INTRODUCTION

At long last, Europe is on its way to becoming one big family, without bloodshed, a real transformation ... a continent of humane values ... of liberty, solidarity and above all diversity, meaning respect for others' languages, cultures and traditions. (Laeken Declaration)

1. The context

The peoples of Europe are building a single Union out of many diverse nations, communities, cultures and language groups; it is a Union built around the equal interchange of ideas and traditions and founded upon the mutual acceptance of peoples with different histories but a common future.

Within a very short time, the European Union will undergo its most significant enlargement to date. The new Union will be home to 450 million Europeans from diverse ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. It will be more important than ever that citizens have the skills necessary to understand and communicate with their neighbours.

Building a common home in which to live, work and trade together means acquiring the skills to communicate with one another effectively and to understand one another better. Learning and speaking other languages encourages us to become more open to others, their cultures and outlooks.

The European Union is built around the free movement of its citizens, capital and services. The citizen with good language skills is better able to take advantage of the freedom to work or study in another Member State.

In the context of the Lisbon strategy of economic, social and environmental renewal launched in March 2000, the Union is developing a society based upon knowledge as a key element in moving towards its objective of becoming the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by the end of the decade. Learning other languages contributes to this goal by improving cognitive skills and strengthening learners' mother tongue skills, including reading and writing.

Also in this context, the Commission is working to develop the entrepreneurial spirit and skills of EU citizens (for example through the European Charter for Small Enterprises [1] as well as the Green Paper on Entrepreneurship). Such goals will be easier to achieve if language learning is effectively promoted in the European Union, making sure that European citizens, and companies, have the intercultural and language skills necessary to be effective in the global market-place.

[1] endorsed by the European Council in Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal, on 18-19 June 2000.

Many other policies being pursued at European level would benefit from an improvement in citizens' language skills.

In short, the ability to understand and communicate in other languages is a basic skill for all European citizens.

Language skills are unevenly spread across countries and social groups [2]. The range of foreign languages spoken by Europeans is narrow, being limited mainly to English, French, German, and Spanish. Learning one lingua franca alone is not enough. Every European citizen should have meaningful communicative competence in at least two other languages in addition to his or her mother tongue. This is an ambitious goal, but the progress already made by several Member States shows that it is perfectly attainable.

[2] More detailed information about differences between Member States was contained in the background documents that accompanied the Consultation process; these are still available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/education/ policies/lang/languages/consult_en.html

background

The European Year of Languages 2001 highlighted the many ways of promoting language learning and linguistic diversity. Heads of the State and Government in Barcelona in March 2002 recognised the need for European Union and Member State action to improve language learning; they called for further action to improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages to all from a very early age.

A European Parliament Resolution of 13 December 2001 called for measures to promote language learning and linguistic diversity. On 14 February 2002 the Education Council invited Member States to take concrete steps to promote linguistic diversity and language learning, and invited the European Commission to draw up proposals in these fields.

This Action Plan is the European Commission's response to that request. It should be read in conjunction with the Consultation Document Promoting Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity (SEC 2002 1234 [3]) which sets out the European Commission's philosophy and the context for the actions proposed.

[3] available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/education/ policies/lang/languages/consult_en.html

consult

2. Consultation

In preparing this Action Plan, the European Commission undertook a wide public consultation involving the other European Institutions, relevant national ministries, a wide range of organisations representing civil society, and the general public. The consultation document was made available on-line in all European Union languages. Over 300 substantive responses to the consultation were received. A conference for representatives of civil society in Brussels on 10 April 2003 closed the consultation.

The European Commission would like to record its gratitude to all those organisations and individuals who took the time to make comments and suggestions. A complete report on the consultation process and a synthesis of the results, as well as the proceedings of the conference, will be published separately on the Europa server.

In summary, the main thrust of the Commission's analysis of the current situation and its proposals for the future was approved by respondents. There was, for example, agreement about the desirability of spreading the benefits of multilingualism to all European citizens through lifelong language learning, starting at a very early age. The propositions that English alone is not enough, and that lessons should be made available in a wide variety of languages were widely supported. The usefulness of programmes at national and European level that promote the mobility of language learners and teachers, and other forms of contact between citizens, was highlighted. The need to improve the quality of language teaching attracted very broad-based support. More effective mechanisms for ensuring the transparency of language certification were deemed necessary by many. The potential for making Europe's towns and cities more 'language friendly', the scope for making better use of sub-titling for language learning, and the importance of action to assist so-called 'regional' and 'minority' language communities were stressed. Many respondents agreed on the necessity for each country to undertake a study of its language needs and define its own languages policy.

The consultation has highlighted a broad consensus that further action is to be taken now to improve language learning and to promote linguistic diversity in Europe. The views of the respondents have been taken into account in this Action Plan.

3. A shared responsibility

By their very nature, language learning and linguistic diversity are issues that can be addressed in different ways at different levels.

The role of national, regional and local authorities

It is the authorities in Member States who bear the primary responsibility for implementing the new push for language learning in the light of local circumstances and policies, within overall European objectives.

The Council of Europe encourages its Member States to reflect upon these responsibilities through a 'language audit' with a view to formulating language education policies that are coherent with the promotion of social inclusion and the development of democratic citizenship in Europe.

In their work on the Concrete Objectives of Education and Training systems [4], Member States have agreed common objectives towards which they work by setting indicators and benchmarks, sharing good practice and undertaking peer reviews. They have identified the improvement of language skills as a priority. This programme of work, by which Member States agree to move forward together in developing key aspects of language policy and practice, will therefore provide the framework for many of the actions required at Member State level to promote language learning and linguistic diversity.

[4] For more information, please see the detailed work programme for this process: Council document 5980/01 14 February 2001 http://register.consilium.eu.int/pdf/en/ 01/st05/05980en1.pdf

The role of the European Union

The European Union's role in this field is not to replace action by Member States, but to support and supplement it. Its mission is to help them develop quality education and vocational training through cooperation and exchange, and to promote developments in those issues that can best be tackled at a Union-wide level. This is why the key question in the consultation process was: "in what ways could the European Commission stimulate and complement action at other levels?"

The main tools available to the Union in this field are its funding programmes, and especially those in the fields of Education, Training and Culture [5]. The Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes together invest over EUR 30 million a year in actions with a specific language-learning objective. In the years 2000 - 2002, the Socrates programme has funded:

[5] http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/ education_culture/index_en.htm

- 1 601 joint language projects involving 58 500 pupils and 6 500 teachers;

- 2 440 language assistantships;

- 16 563 in-service training grants for teachers of a foreign language;

- 18 projects developing training tools and courses for language teachers;

- intensive linguistic preparation courses in a less widely used and less taught language for 3 632 Higher Education students;

- 38 learning partnerships, and 12 cooperation projects to promote languages in adult education;

- 33 projects developing new language learning or testing tools; and

- 15 projects promoting awareness about the benefits of language learning and bringing language learning opportunities closer to citizens.

In the same period, the Leonardo da Vinci programme has funded:

- 750 periods of in-service training abroad for teachers of a foreign language;

- 56 projects developing language learning tools for vocational training purposes and in the workplace;

- 5 projects developing methods of validating language skills

- 4 language audits in companies;

- 120 000 transnational placements, exchanges and study visits for people in training.

The programmes, which have helped many hundreds of thousands of pupils, trainees, teachers and trainers to improve their language skills or acquire new ones, and have funded the development of innovative approaches, methods and materials for language teaching, are currently being reviewed. In-depth general evaluations of these programmes are currently underway, and a specific analysis of their impact upon the promotion of language learning will be completed by the end of 2003.

The European Commission will ensure that promoting language learning and linguistic diversity retains its place in subsequent programmes.

Member States are also encouraged to make use of other European programmes and the European Social Fund and the European Investment Bank to fund developments in language learning.

However, it would be illusory to believe that European programmes could bear the main burden of promoting language learning and linguistic diversity; nor should they: the funding allocated to them can never take the place of direct investment at national, regional and local level in educational infrastructure, in appropriate class sizes, in the training of teachers, or in international exchanges, for example.

4. The Action Plan

This document is divided into two main parts.

Section 1 sets out the context and the main policy objectives to be pursued. The Consultation Document identified three broad areas in which action should be taken: extending the benefits of life-long language learning to all citizens, improving language teaching, and creating a more language-friendly environment. The Action Plan is structured around these same themes, and for ease of reference, uses the same headings. Clearly, not all of the broad objectives set out in Section 1 can be achieved in all Member States within the timeframe of this Action Plan.

Section 2 makes concrete proposals for tangible improvements in the short term. It proposes a series of actions to be taken at European level in 2004 - 2006 with the aim of supporting actions taken by local, regional and national authorities. The actions use resources available in existing Community programmes and activities; none of them requires additional budgetary resources to be allocated to the Commission. Taken together, actions proposed, and those taken by Member States, can secure a major step change in promoting language learning and linguistic diversity.

In 2007 the Commission will review the action taken at all levels and report to the European Parliament and Council.

SECTION 1

I. LIFE-LONG LANGUAGE LEARNING

This section focuses on the key objective of extending the benefits of language learning to all citizens. Language competencies are part of the core of skills that every citizen needs for training, employment, cultural exchange and personal fulfilment; language learning is a lifelong activity.

1. 'Mother tongue plus two other languages': making an early start

It is a priority for Member States to ensure that language learning in kindergarten and primary school is effective, for it is here that key attitudes towards other languages and cultures are formed, and the foundations for later language learning are laid. The European Council in Barcelona called for "further action ... to improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early age".

In implementing this commitment, most Member States will be called upon to make significant additional investments.

The advantages of the early learning of languages - which include better skills in one's mother tongue - only accrue where teachers are trained specifically to teach languages to very young children, where class sizes are small enough for language learning to be effective, where appropriate training materials are available, and where enough curriculum time is devoted to languages. Initiatives to make language learning available to an ever-younger group of pupils must be supported by appropriate resources, including resources for teacher training.

Early learners become aware of their own cultural values and influences and appreciate other cultures, becoming more open towards and interested in others. This benefit is limited if all pupils learn the same language: a range of languages should be available to early learners. Parents and teaching staff need better information about the benefits of this early start, and about the criteria that should inform the choice of children's first foreign language. (> Actions I.1.1 toI.1.5)

2. Language learning in secondary education and training

In secondary education or training young people complete the acquisition of the essential core of skills that will serve them throughout a lifetime of language learning.

Member States agree that pupils should master at least two foreign languages, with the emphasis on effective communicative ability: active skills rather than passive knowledge. 'Native speaker' fluency is not the objective, but appropriate levels of skill in reading, listening, writing and speaking in two foreign languages are required, together with intercultural competencies and the ability to learn languages whether with a teacher or alone.

Language assistantships, of the kind funded by Socrates / Comenius, can improve the skills of young language teachers whilst at the same time helping to revitalise language lessons and have an impact upon the whole school, in particular by introducing schools to the value of teaching less widely used and less taught languages. For this reason, all secondary schools should be encouraged to host staff from other language communities, such as language assistants or guest teachers. In linguistic border areas there are many additional opportunities for contact between pupils and teachers from neighbouring language communities.

Socrates / Comenius school language projects, in which a class works together on a project with a class abroad, and which culminate in class exchanges, provide young learners with genuine opportunities to use language skills through contact with learners of the same age. All pupils should have the experience of taking part in such a project and in a related language exchange visit. (> Actions I.2.1 to I.2.3)

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), in which pupils learn a subject through the medium of a foreign language, has a major contribution to make to the Union's language learning goals. It can provide effective opportunities for pupils to use their new language skills now, rather than learn them now for use later. It opens doors on languages for a broader range of learners, nurturing self-confidence in young learners and those who have not responded well to formal language instruction in general education. It provides exposure to the language without requiring extra time in the curriculum, which can be of particular interest in vocational settings. The introduction of CLIL approaches into an institution can be facilitated by the presence of trained teachers who are native speakers of the vehicular language. (> Actions I.2.4 to I.2.7)

3. Language Learning in Higher Education

Higher Education institutions play a key role in promoting societal and individual multilingualism. Proposals that each university implement a coherent language policy clarifying its role in promoting language learning and linguistic diversity, both amongst its learning community and in the wider locality, are to be welcomed.

In non-anglophone countries recent trends to provide teaching in English may have unforeseen consequences on the vitality of the national language. University language policies should therefore include explicit actions to promote the national or regional language.

All students should study abroad, preferably in a foreign language, for at least one term, and should gain an accepted language qualification as part of their degree course. (> Action I.3.1)

4. Adult language learning

Every adult should be encouraged to carry on learning foreign languages, and facilities should be made readily available to make this possible. Workers should have the opportunity to improve the language skills relevant to their working life. Cultural activities involving foreign music, literature or films, holidays abroad, town-twinning activities, voluntary service abroad can be promoted as opportunities for learning about other cultures and languages. (> Action I.4.1)

5. Language Learners with special needs

Language learning is for everybody. Only a very small minority of people has physical, mental or other characteristics that make language learning impossible. Provision for learners with special needs of one kind or another is increasingly being made within mainstream schools and training institutions; however, such learners are still excluded from language lessons in some cases. Good practice in teaching languages to learners with special needs can be further developed and new methods and approaches need to be developed for the teaching of foreign languages to such learners. (> Action I.5.1)

6. Range of languages.

Promoting linguistic diversity means actively encouraging the teaching and learning of the widest possible range of languages in our schools, universities, adult education centres and enterprises. Taken as a whole, the range on offer should include the smaller European languages as well as all the larger ones, regional, minority and migrant languages as well as those with 'national' status, and the languages of our major trading partners throughout the world. The imminent enlargement of the European Union will bring with it a wealth of languages from several language families; it requires a special effort to ensure that the languages of the new Member States become more widely learned in other countries. Member States have considerable scope to take a lead in promoting the teaching and learning of a wider range of languages than at present.

II. BETTER LANGUAGE TEACHING

1. The language-friendly school

It is important that schools and training institutions adopt a holistic approach to the teaching of language, which makes appropriate connections between the teaching of'mother tongue', 'foreign' languages, the language of instruction, and the languages of migrant communities; such policies will help children to develop the full range of their communicative abilities. In this context, multilingual comprehension approaches can be of particular value because they encourage learners to become aware of similarities between languages, which is the basis for developing receptive multilingualism. (> Action II.1.1)

2. The Languages Classroom

There is general agreement that the Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes have stimulated the development of many useful tools for teaching and learning foreign languages [6]. Information about these products needs to become more widespread, especially amongst key multipliers such as teachers, trainers, heads and inspectors. (> Action II.2.1 to II.2.2)

[6] See the following on-line catalogues of resources: Lingua Products catalogue: http://europa.eu.int/comm/education/ socrates/lingua/catalogue/home_en.htm Leonardo da Vinci products catalogue: http://europa.eu.int/comm/education/ programmes/leonardo/new/compacc_en.html

Considerable scope for contact between pupils in other language communities is offered by eLearning approaches based on Internet-facilitated school twinnings and on the pedagogical use of ICT for learning (eLearning). Care needs to be taken that they favour the learning of a wide variety of languages.

3. Language teacher training

Language teachers have a crucial role to play in building a multilingual Europe. They, more than teachers of other subjects, are called upon to exemplify the European values of openness to others, tolerance of differences, and willingness to communicate.

It is important that they have all had adequate experience of using the target language and understanding its associated culture. All teachers of a foreign language should have spent an extended period in a country where that language is spoken and have regular opportunities to update their training.

There is a significant disparity in modes of training, however, and not all teachers have lived or studied in a country whose language they teach. Whilst the initial and in-service training of teachers of a foreign language is the responsibility of Member States, there is a role for the Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes to complement their actions, where there is a European added value.

The skills and personal resources required to teach languages well are considerable. Initial training should equip language teachers with a basic 'toolkit' of practical skills and techniques, through training in the classroom; language teachers need the advice of trained mentors as well as regular opportunities to keep their language and teaching skills up to date, inter aliavia e- learning and distance learning.

Language teachers may often feel isolated, unaware of developments elsewhere with the potential to improve their work; they may not have access to adequate professional support networks; it is therefore important to facilitate contacts and effective networks between them at a regional, national and European level.

More work is required to make sure that the results of research into language pedagogy, and the evidence of good practice and successful innovation, are disseminated to the people who can make use of them. To date, the key role played by language teacher trainers, inspectors of foreign language teaching and other professionals, in promoting good practice has not received the attention it merits. (> Actions II.3.1 to II.3.2)

4. Supply of language teachers

Some Member States face shortages of adequately-qualified language teachers; these may be general shortages or may relate to certain languages or certain types of education or training; these shortages need to be addressed and sustainable solutions found. More can be done to exchange teachers between Member States; such teachers may work as teachers of their mother tongue, teachers of another language or as teachers of another subject through their mother tongue. In linguistic border areas there is particular scope for initiatives targeting neighbouring languages in this field.

Member States have been recommended [7] to remove legal and administrative obstacles to the mobility of teachers and their progress needs to be monitored. (> Actions II.4.1 to II.4.2)

[7] by the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Mobility ... for Students, Persons Undergoing Training, Volunteers, Teachers and Trainers (2001/613/EC)

5. Training teachers of other subjects

Most pupils and trainees could study at least some of their curriculum through the medium of a foreign language. Many more members of the teaching profession should in future be able to teach their subject(s) through at least one foreign language; to this end, trainee teachers should study language(s) alongside their area of specialisation and undertake a part of their teaching studies abroad.

6. Testing language skills

Heads of State and Government in Barcelona in March 2002 noted the lack of data on citizens' actual language skills, and called for the establishment of a European Indicator of Language Competence. Such an indicator will provide valuable information for decision-takers in the education and training systems. The Commission will shortly bring forward proposals for the design and administration of a periodic test of language skills, which will gather data for a new European indicator of language competence.

It is also important, however, to tackle the information requirements of language learners themselves, their employers, their teachers and education and training institutions. There is a great diversity of tests and certificates of language skills in Europe, both within and outside formal education and training systems. Not all tests are devised for the same purpose, or constructed to the same degree of rigour. These differences make the comparison of language skills between individuals difficult; it is not easy for employers or education institutions to know what real, practical language skills the holder of any language certificate really has. This reduces the portability of language examination results, and may hinder the free movement of workers and students between Member States.

The Common Reference Scales of the Council of Europe's Common European Framework of Reference for Language [8] provide a good basis for schemes to describe individuals' language skills in an objective, practical, transparent and portable manner. Effective mechanisms are needed to regulate the use of these scales by examining bodies. Teachers and others involved in testing language skills need adequate training in the practical application of the Framework. European networks of relevant professionals could do much to help share good practice in this field.

[8] http://www.coe.int/T/E/ Cultural_Co-operation/education/ Languages/Language_Policy/Common_Framework_of_Reference/default.asp

The European Language Portfolio [9] can help people to value, and make the most of, all their language skills, howsoever acquired, and to carry on learning languages by themselves (> Actions II.6.1 to II.6.4)

[9] http://culture2.coe.int/portfolio/ inc.asp?L=E&M=$t/208-1-0-1/main_pages/welcome.html

III. BUILDING A LANGUAGE-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT

Language learning is for all citizens, throughout their lives. Being aware of other languages, hearing other languages, teaching and learning other languages: these things need to happen in every home and every street, every library and cultural centre, as well as in every education or training institution and every business.

The regions, towns and villages of Europe are called upon to become more language-friendly environments, in which the needs of speakers of all languages are fully respected, in which the existing diversity of languages and cultures is used to good effect; and in which there is a healthy demand for and a rich supply of language learning opportunities .

The European Commission believes that the key areas for action at European level here are: fostering an inclusive approach to languages, building more language friendly communities, and improving the supply and take-up of language learning.

1. An inclusive approach to linguistic diversity

Linguistic diversity is one of the European Union's defining features. Respect for the diversity of the Union's languages is a founding principle of the European Union.

The mainstream European education, training and culture programmes are already accessible to speakers of all languages, whether 'official' languages or regional languages, minority languages, languages spoken by migrant communities, or sign languages [10].

[10] There is an exception in the case of some Socrates actions which are targeted at learning languages as foreign languages; in these cases, the list of eligible languages is defined by the Decision as the official languages of the European Union plus Letzebuergesch and Irish. In general, however, regional and minority language communities do not seek support for the teaching of their languages as foreign languages.

The Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes, and their successors, can play a greater part in promoting linguistic diversity by funding projects to raise awareness about and encourage the learning of so-called 'regional' 'minority' and migrant languages, to improve the quality of the teaching of these languages, to improve access to learning opportunities in them; to encourage the production, adaptation and exchange of learning materials in them and to encourage the exchange of information and best practice in this field. European Union actions in other fields also have more to contribute.

In the longer term, all relevant Community programmes and the Structural Funds should include more support for linguistic diversity, inter alia for regional and minority languages, if specific action is appropriate.

National and regional authorities are encouraged to give special attention to measures to assist those language communities whose number of native speakers is in decline from generation to generation, in line with the principles of the European Charter on Regional and Minority languages. (> Actions III.1.1 to III.1.3)

2. Building language-friendly communities

Every community in Europe can become more language-friendly by making better use of opportunities to hear and see other languages and cultures, thereby helping to improve language awareness and learning. It is in the interest of the Union to capitalise on the skills and experiences of its many bi- and tri-lingual citizens, and temporary residents such as Erasmus students; monolingual citizens have much to learn from them; public authorities can make better use of their skills in schools, adult education centres, cultural establishments and workplaces.

Research shows that the use of sub-titles in film and television can encourage and facilitate language learning. The power of the media - including new media such as DVDs - could be harnessed in the creation of a more language-friendly environment by regularly exposing citizens to other languages and cultures. The potential for the greater use of sub-titles to promote language learning could be exploited.

As access to the Internet becomes more widespread, its unique potential for delivering language learning is being recognised. Language learning modules on the Web can complement the work of a language teacher, or be used for independent study. The Internet has the further advantage of facilitating contact between speakers - and learners - of a very wide range of languages.

Tourism projects, cross-border projects and town twinning schemes can form the nuclei of local language learning schemes, enabling citizens to learn the language(s) of their neighbours or twin town(s), and offering an incentive to do so. (> Actions III.2.1 to III.2.2)

3. Improving supply and take-up of language learning

It is essential to improve the take-up of language learning opportunities by continuous activities to raise awareness of the benefits of language learning, and by bringing language resources closer to the people who need them. The Council of Europe's initiative the European Day of Languages [11] can be valuable in motivating people to learn foreign languages.

[11] 26 September each year; see http://www.coe.int/T/E/ Cultural_Co-operation/education/Languages/ Language_Policy/European_Day_of_Languages/default.asp

European Union initiatives such as the European Languages Label [12] also have a key role in this by highlighting local, regional, or national projects that have found creative ways to improve the quality of language teaching.

[12] http://europa.eu.int/comm/education/ language/label/index.cfm

The provision of language learning facilities and courses is the responsibility of local, regional and national authorities. Both within and outside formal systems there is still considerable unmet demand not only for language lessons but also for information and advice on language learning.

Appropriate structures are required to motivate people of all ages to learn languages, to offer guidance about how to start, and to provide easy access to a variety of different language learning activities. This is likely to require some investment in new provision, though there is also much to gain by making better use of existing language learning resources and staff in schools and universities, libraries, local learning networks and adult education centres. (> Actions III.3.1 to III.3.3)

IV A FRAMEWORK FOR PROGRESS

The promotion of language learning and linguistic diversity involves a real investment and commitment by public authorities at local, regional, and national as well as European level. None of these authorities needs act in isolation; each can learn from experience elsewhere. The objectives of this Action Plan will be facilitated by structures that work for better-informed decisions on language learning and linguistic diversity (> Actions IV.1.1 to IV.1.6), a more efficient and effective sharing of information and ideas amongst practitioners (> Actions IV.2.1 to IV.2.2), and clear procedures for the follow-up of the Action Plan itself. (> Actions IV.3.1 to IV.3.3

SECTION 2: ACTIONS PROPOSED FOR 2004 - 2006

The point has already been made that the major share of action to extend the benefits of life-long language learning to every citizen, to improve the quality of language teaching, and to create a more language-friendly environment will need to be borne by Member States.

Each Member State starts from a different position in terms, for example, of

- the spread of language skills amongst its population and their degree of openness to the idea of lifelong language learning;

- the quantity and quality of the physical and virtual structures available for language learning in formal and informal settings;

- the numbers and qualifications of specialist language teachers for primary, secondary, vocational, higher and adult education;

- the degree of autonomy of educational institutions;

- the flexibility of school curricula;

- the regulations governing the employment of teachers from abroad;

- the annual per capita investment in promoting and teaching foreign language learning and linguistic diversity, and in training teachers of a foreign language; and

- the structures available for the regular training and mentoring of teachers of a foreign language.

It is for each Member State to consider these and other relevant issues and establish its own programme of actions. This can include work to be undertaken in the context of the 'Objectives of systems of education and training' process.

Member States will be invited to report in 2007 on the actions they have undertaken.

This section therefore concentrates on proposals for actions at a European level that will complement Member States' own initiatives.

I. Life-long Language Learning

0 General

I.0.1 Persons receiving a mobility grant under the Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes are able to receive funding for training in the language of the host country before they travel. A greater degree of take-up of this possibility will be encouraged, and the option will be considered of making it compulsory in future in all cases where the beneficiary does not speak the language of the host country. 2005 onwards

1. 'Mother tongue plus two other languages': making an early start

In implementing their commitment to teach at least two foreign languages from a very early age, Member States should consider whether adjustments are necessary to primary school curricula, and whether provision for the training and deployment of additional specialist teaching staff and other teaching and learning resources in primary and pre-primary schools is adequate.

I.1.1 A study on the main pedagogical principles underlying the teaching of foreign languages and cultures to very young learners will be funded. 2005 (Call for Tenders 2004)

I.1.2 Information about the benefits of early foreign language learning and linguistic diversity will be disseminated to as wide an audience as possible, including parents. 2005

I.1.3 A European conference will disseminate to education decision-takers the latest findings on early foreign language learning, with the aim of establishing a network of practitioners in this field. 2006

I.1.4 The Socrates programme's Lingua action 2 will fund a series of transnational projects to develop materials for teaching language awareness and foreign languages other than lingua francas to primary and pre-primary learners. The Commission will propose that the general Socrates Call for Proposals in 2004 be amended accordingly. 2006

I.1.5 The Commission services and National Agencies will work to increase take-up of the Language Assistantship action, in particular to support language teaching at primary level. 2005 and 2006

2. Language Learning in secondary education and training

I.2.1 Comenius 1.2 school language projects allow classes to work on a joint project with a class in another country; they culminate in class exchanges in which pupils' foreign language skills are further improved. The indicative proportion of Comenius 1 funding allocated to such projects will be raised to 25% and the Commission services and National Agencies will work to improve take-up of these resources. 2005 and 2006

I.2.2 A study of the linguistic and intercultural skills relevant to each stage of compulsory education or training will be undertaken. 2006 (Call for Tenders 42005)

I.2.3 The Commission services and National Agencies will encourage a greater take-up of the resources currently available in Socrates Comenius action 2 to develop training materials and modules to promote multilingual comprehension approaches in mother tongue and foreign language lessons. 2005

Promoting Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)

I.2.4 The Socrates programme's Lingua action 2 will fund a series of transnational projects for the development and dissemination of new, specific methodologies for teaching subjects through languages other than lingua francas. The Commission will propose that the general Socrates Call for Proposals in 2004 be amended accordingly. 2005

I.2.5 The Commission will propose that the general Socrates Call for Proposals published in 2004 (Socrates Comenius action 1: school projects) be amended so as to increase support to schools wishing to introduce a Content and Language Integrated Learning approach. In particular, extended exchanges of teachers between partner schools will be encouraged. 2005 and 2006

I.2.6 A European conference will be held for decision-takers and inspectors to launch a major new study on the benefits of Content and Language Integrated Learning. 2004

I.2.7 The European Eurydice Unit will gather and disseminate information on the availability of Content and Language Integrated Learning in European education and training systems, based on the collection of available data by its Network. 2005

3. Language Learning in Higher Education

I.3.1 The Socrates programme's intensive language preparation courses are specialised courses in the less widely used and less taught language (LWULT) of the countries participating in Socrates. They enable Erasmus students to study the language of their host country, before starting the Erasmus period. The Commission services and National Agencies will work closely with universities to find ways of encouraging more Erasmus students to take advantage of these courses, with a target of 10% of incoming Erasmus students to the LWULT countries attending these courses by 2006. 2005 and 2006

4. Adult language learning

I.4.1 A Web Portal will be established on the Europa server giving easy access to information for

(1) the general public (e.g. about language learning and linguistic diversity, about the languages spoken in Europe, reasons for learning languages) and

(2) language professionals (e.g. on-line teaching resources and teacher training modules). The Portal will be widely marketed. 2006 (Call for Tenders 2005)

5. Language Learners with special needs

I.5.1 The Commission services will collect and disseminate information about good practice in the teaching of foreign languages to learners with special needs, with particular reference to the organisation of curricula and teaching systems. 2006

6. Range of languages

Member States should provide adequate information to parents about the choice of their child's first foreign language, and the flexibility of school curricula to permit the teaching of a wider range of languages.

II. Better Language Teaching

1. The language-friendly school

II.1.1 The Commission services and National Agencies will work to increase take-up of school development projects (Socrates Comenius action 1) whose objective is to develop and implement holistic school language policies in primary, secondary or vocational schools. 2005 and 2006

2. The Languages Classroom

II.2.1 The Commission services and National Agencies will work to increase the use by teachers, trainers, and learners of the language products developed under the Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes. 2005 and 2006

II.2.2 The e-twinning action of the new E-learning programme will make it possible for all European schools to build pedagogical partnerships with a school elsewhere in Europe, fostering language learning and intercultural dialogue, and promoting awareness of the multilingual and multicultural European model of society.

3. Language teacher training

In this field, Member States have a crucial role to play in ensuring that all teachers of a foreign language have:

- appropriate initial training including practical training in the pedagogy of foreign languages, and experience of living in a country whose language they teach, and

- regular paid access to in-service training.

Member States will recall that the Council Resolution of 14 February 2002 invited them to encourage future language teachers to take advantage of relevant European programmes to carry out part of their studies in a country or region of a country where the language which they will teach later is the official language.

II.3.1 The Commission services and National Agencies will undertake targeted campaigns to disseminate information about the Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes' mobility schemes for language teachers and their trainers, with a view to increasing take-up of these actions in 2005 and 2006. The proportion of Socrates Comenius 2 funding allocated to such projects will be raised to 25% of the total Socrates Comenius 2 budget. 2004

II.3.2 A study will be funded to identify the core pedagogical and linguistic skills necessary for today's language teachers, and propose a framework for their assessment; 2005 (Call for Tenders 2004)

4. Supply of language teachers

In this field, Member States have a particular responsibility to remove any remaining administrative or legal barriers to the employment of teachers of a foreign language from other Member States.

II.4.1 Following its recent study on obstacles to teacher mobility in the Union, the Commission will fund a more detailed analysis specifically of the obstacles to the mobility of language teachers, including a survey of their own perceptions and attitudes and recommendations for Member States. 2005 (Call for Tenders 2004)

II.4.2 A Symposium on the supply of qualified language teachers in Europe will be organised. 2006

5. Training teachers of other subjects (see CLIL)

6. Testing language skills

In this respect, Member States were invited by the Council Resolution of 14 February 2002 to set up systems of validation of competence in language knowledge based on the Common European Framework of reference for languages developed by the Council of Europe, and to stimulate European cooperation in order to promote transparency of qualifications and quality assurance of language learning.

II.6.1 A test of language skills will be designed and administered across the European Union to samples of pupils at the end of compulsory education, in order to gather data for the new European indicator of language competence. 2005 and 2006 (Call for Tenders 2003/4)

II.6.2 The Commission services will take stock of the benefits of including the assessment of language skills in the Copenhagen Declaration. In particular, the single framework for the transparency of competencies and qualifications (Europass), which should enter into force in 2005, will envisage links to language assessment tools. 2006

II.6.3 An inventory of language certification systems in Europe will be undertaken. 2004 (Call for Tenders 2004)

II.6.4 A working conference will be organised at which Member States, testing organisations, education institutions, professional associations, social partners and others can devise mechanisms to support the effective and transparent use of the scales of the Common European Framework in language testing and certification. 2005

III. Building A Language-Friendly Environment

1. An inclusive approach

III.1.1 A conference will be organised to promote cooperation in issues affecting 'regional' and 'minority' languages in education systems. 2005

III.1.2 A revised and extended edition of the Euromosaic report on Regional and minority languages will be published to take account of the enlargement of the European Union. 2004

III.1.3 Under the new approach to the funding of projects relating to regional and minority languages, support will be made available from mainstream programmes rather than specific programmes for these languages. The Commission's annual monitoring report on culture will monitor the implementation of this new approach. 2004 onwards

Member States are encouraged to give special attention to measures to assist language communities whose number of native speakers is in decline from generation to generation, in line with the principles of the European Charter on Regional and Minority languages.

2. Building language-friendly communities

III.2.1 The 2004, 2005 and 2006 Calls for proposals for Town-twinning projects will be amended so that multilingualism in the European Union is an eligible topic for meetings of citizens and for thematic conferences. 2004 onwards

III.2.2 The Commission will launch an open study to analyse the potential for greater use of sub-titles in film and television programmes to promote language learning and to examine ways and means of encouraging greater use of sub-titled audio-visual material for language learning purposes. 2005

3. Improving supply and take-up of language learning

III.3.1 The Commission will propose that the general Socrates Call for Proposals in 2004 be amended so that the Grundtvig action attaches a higher priority to projects in the field of foreign language teaching and learning, and in particular the languages of migrant communities. 2005 and 2006

III.3.2 The successful European Language Label will be re-focused (a) by introducing in each country or region an Annual prize for the individual having made the most progress in foreign language learning, and the best language teacher; (b) by using targeted annual European priorities to focus on good practice; and (c) by more extensive annual publicity campaigns at national and regional level, particularly concentrating on initiatives such as the European Day of Languages. 2005 and 2006

III.3.3 The Commission services will publish a five-yearly monitoring report on the state of diversity in the supply of language teaching in the Union. 2005 (Call for Tenders 2004)

IV A Framework For Progress

1. Better-informed decisions

IV.1.1 A permanent high-level group of representatives of Member States, social partners, and the world of education, training and culture will be established to assist in the monitoring of this Action Plan, stimulate public debate with stakeholders about language learning and linguistic diversity, and monitor change in language learning and linguistic diversity in the Union. 2004

IV.1.2 A detailed study of the requirements for language skills in European Union, and the personal benefits of foreign language learning, recommending ways of motivating more citizens to learn languages, will be funded. 2004 (Call for Tenders 2003)

IV.1.3 Studies will be undertaken into:

- the costs of non-multilingualism and

- the effects on the European economy of business lost due to a lack of foreign language skills 2005 (Call for Tenders 2004)

IV.1.4 Research will be undertaken, under Priority 7 of the Sixth Framework Research Programme, into such issues as the links between multilingualism and the multicultural society, European identity, and the knowledge-based society, the basis of language learning, and implications for language teaching methodologies. 2006

IV.1.5 The European Eurydice network will publish a separate volume, to supplement the Key Data report, containing a representative set of indicators and a detailed analytical overview on foreign language teaching in schools in Europe. This will appear at the end of 2004 and be updated every two years. 2004

IV.1.6 The Commission will collect and publish information on the extent to which its programmes in the field of Education, Training, Youth, Media and Culture promote language learning and linguistic diversity. 2005 onwards

2. More effective information sharing between practitioners

IV.2.1 The establishment of a European network of Inspectors of foreign language education and training (and similar policy makers) will be supported. 2004 - 2005

IV.2.2 The Socrates programme's Arion mobility scheme will support study visits by Language inspectors. 2005 - 2006

3. Clear procedures for the follow-up of the Action Plan

IV.3.1 The Commission will propose a series of concrete measures by means of which the new programmes may take forward the objectives set out in this Action Plan from 2007 onwards.

IV.3.2 Member States should report to the Commission in 2007 on:

- the extent to which they have implemented Council Resolution 2002 C 50/ 01 of 14 February 2002

- the extent to which they have made use of the additional opportunities for supporting languages within the Socrates and Leonardo programmes under actions I.0.1, I.1.4, , I.1.5, I.2.1, I.2.3, I.2.4, I.2.5, I.3.1, II.1.1, II.2.1, II.2.2, II.3.1, III.3.1 III.3.2, and IV.2.2

- the actions they have undertaken under each of the 15 sub-headings of this Communication, and

- the most successful practices they have identified in this period, with a view to disseminating them more widely, for example through the Objectives Process.

IV.3.3 The Commission will present a communication to the Parliament and the Council on these matters in 2007, and propose adjustments or further action where necessary.

FINANCIAL STATEMENT

Policy area(s): Education and culture

Activity/activities: Culture and languages

Title of action:

Promotion of language learning and linguistic diversity - Action plan 2004-2006

1. BUDGET LINES + HEADINGS

15.02.02.02 Socrates

15.03.01.02 Leonardo da Vinci

15.05.01.01 MediaPlus

2. OVERALL FIGURES

2.1 Total allocation for action (Part B):

EUR 8.200 million in commitment appropriations

2.2 Period of application:

2004-2006

2.3 Overall multiannual estimate of expenditure:

Note: the information presented below is meant to show the total cost of the initiative. However, it should be noted that most of the needs will be financed from the Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci and MediaPlus programmes and the budgets already allocated to these programmes, without increasing these budgets (both the operating appropriations for the programmes and the appropriations for administrative expenditure are concerned; if it should prove necessary to augment these administrative appropriations on account of the Action Plan this would be done by transfer, within the limits of the overall allocations for the programmes). The only additional cost occasioned by this Action Plan therefore concerns administrative expenditure from Part A of the budget (point 7 of this financial statement).

a) Schedule of commitment appropriations (CA)/payment appropriations (PA) (financial intervention) (cf. point 6.1.1)

EUR million (to 3rd decimal place)

>TABLE POSITION>

b) Technical and administrative assistance and support expenditure (cf. point 6.1.2)

>TABLE POSITION>

>TABLE POSITION>

c) Overall financial impact of human resources and other administrative expenditure (cf. points 7.2 et 7.3)

>TABLE POSITION>

>TABLE POSITION>

2.4 Compatibility with the financial programming and the financial perspective

Proposal compatible with the existing financial programming

This proposal will entail reprogramming of the relevant heading in the financial perspective

Proposal may require application of the provisions of the Interinstitutional Agreement

2.5 Financial impact on revenue

No financial implications (involves technical aspects regarding implementation of a measure)

Financial impact - The effect on revenue is as follows:

3. BUDGET CHARACTERISTICS

>TABLE POSITION>

4. LEGAL BASIS

The bulk of the funding will come from the Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci and MediaPlus programmes.

5. DESCRIPTION AND GROUNDS

5.1 Need for Community intervention

5.1.1 Objectives pursued

The peoples of Europe are building a single Union out of many diverse nations, communities, cultures and language groups; it is a Union built around the equal interchange of ideas and traditions and founded upon the mutual acceptance of peoples with different histories but a common future. Within a very short time, the European Union will undergo its most significant enlargement to date. The new Union will be home to 450 million Europeans from diverse ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. It will be more important than ever that citizens have the skills necessary to understand and communicate with their neighbours.

Building a common home in which to live, work and trade together means acquiring the skills to communicate with one another effectively and to understand one another better. Learning and speaking other languages encourages us to become more open to others, their cultures and outlooks. The ability to understand and communicate in other languages is a basic skill for European citizens.

Language skills are unevenly spread across countries and social groups. The range of foreign languages spoken by Europeans is narrow, being limited mainly to English, French, German, and Spanish. Learning one lingua franca alone is not enough. Every European citizen should have meaningful communicative competence in at least two other languages in addition to his or her mother tongue. This is an ambitious goal, but the progress already made by several Member States shows that it is perfectly attainable.

The European Year of Languages 2001 highlighted the many ways of promoting language learning and linguistic diversity. Heads of the State and Government in Barcelona in March 2002 recognised the need for European Union and Member State action to improve language learning; they called for further action to improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages to all from a very early age. A European Parliament Resolution of 13 December 2001 called for measures to promote language learning and linguistic diversity. The Education Council on 14 February 2002 invited Member States to take concrete steps to promote linguistic diversity and language learning, and invited the European Commission to draw up proposals in these fields.

This Action Plan is the European Commission's response to that request. It should be read in conjunction with the Consultation Document Promoting Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity (SEC 2002 1234) [13] which sets out the European Commission's philosophy and the context for the actions proposed.

[13] available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/education/ policies/lang/languages/consult_en.html

consult

5.1.2 Measures taken in connection with ex-ante evaluation

The main conclusions of the external evaluation of the European Year of Languages 2001 were that the Year had been successful in stimulating strong interest, in achieving high levels of participation and in delivering effective actions. The report also encouraged the Commission to build on the activities and momentum created with well-focussed policy developments and the spread of good practice. (See : Report on the Implementation of the European Year of Languages (COM (2002) 597).

Before drafting the present Action Plan, the Commission undertook a wide-ranging public consultation exercise on the basis of a Consultation Document SEC (2002) 1234. The responses received were in broad agreement with the policies and proposals set out ; these have now been incorporated in the Action Plan.

5.1.3 Measures taken following ex-post evaluation

New action.

5.2 Actions envisaged and arrangements for budget intervention

The Action Plan makes concrete proposals for tangible improvements in the short term. It proposes a series of actions to be taken at European level in 2004 - 2006 with the aim of supporting actions taken by local, regional and national authorities. The actions use resources available in existing community programmes and activities; none of them requires additional budgetary resources to be allocated to the Commission. Taken together, actions proposed, and those taken by Member States, can secure a major step change in promoting language learning and linguistic diversity.

The main strands of the Action Plan are as follows:

I. Life-long Language Learning: 'Mother tongue plus two other languages': making an early start; Language Learning in secondary education and training; Language Learning in Higher Education; Adult language learning; Language Learners with special needs; Range of languages.

II. Better Language Teaching: The language-friendly school; The Languages Classroom; Language teacher training; Supply of language teachers; Training teachers of other subjects; Testing language skills.

III. Building A Language-Friendly Environment: An inclusive approach; Building language-friendly communities; Improving supply and take-up of language learning.

IV. A Framework For Progress: Better-informed decisions; More effective information sharing between practitioners; Clear procedures for the follow-up of the Action Plan.

5.3 Methods of implementation

The actions will be implemented in accordance with the rules applying to the implementation of the programmes which will be funding the Action Plan.

6. FINANCIAL IMPACT

6.1 Total financial impact on Part B (over the entire programming period)

(The method of calculating the total amounts set out in the table below must be explained by the breakdown in Table 6.2. )

6.1.1 Financial intervention: CA in million EUR (to the 3rd decimal place)

>TABLE POSITION>

6.2. Calculation of costs by measure envisaged in Part B (over the entire programming period)

CA in EUR million (to the 3rd decimal place)

>TABLE POSITION>

7. IMPACT ON STAFF AND ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENDITURE

7.1. Impact on human resources

Implementing the Action Plan will not require any extra human resources, these already having been assigned to the actions managed under the programmes which will be financing the Action Programme.

>TABLE POSITION>

7.2 Overall financial impact of human resources

>TABLE POSITION>

The amounts represent total expenditure for 12 months.

7.3 Other operating expenditure deriving from the action

>TABLE POSITION>

The amounts represent total expenditure for 12 months.

* 2 meetings per year of 35 participants (1 representative per participating country plus representatives of civil society (social partners, etc.), at a unit cost of EUR 840

** Conferences not eligible for grants from the Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes. Total estimated cost of EUR 330 000 over the three years, for two conferences, shown here as an annual cost.

*** Studies not eligible for grants from the Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes. Total estimated cost of EUR 660 000 over the three years, for four studies, shown here as an annual cost.

I. Annual total (7.2 + 7.3)

II. Duration of action

III. Total cost of action (I x II) // EUR 390 000

3 years

EUR 1 170 000

8. Monitoring and evaluation

8.1 Monitoring system

Performance indicators(s) (quantitative and/or qualitative) for this sub-activity

* increase in take-up for the Socrates / Leonardo mobility actions referred to in the Action Plan

* No of persons/organisations involved

* N° of studies undertaken

* N° of conferences undertaken

* N° of items of information disseminated.

8.2 Arrangements and schedule for the planned evaluation

The Action Plan itself (Section 2 : IV) contains "Clear procedures for the follow-up of the Action Plan". These are :

IV.3.1 The Commission will propose a series of concrete measures by means of which the new programmes may take forward the objectives set out in this Action Plan from 2007 onwards.

IV.3.2 Member States should report to the Commission in 2007 on:

- the extent to which they have implemented Council Resolution 2002 C 50/ 01 of 14 February 2002

- the extent to which they have made use of the additional opportunities for supporting languages within the Socrates and Leonardo programmes under actions I.0.1, I.1.4, , I.1.5, I.2.1, I.2.3, I.2.4, I.2.5, I.3.1, II.1.1, II.2.1, II.2.2, II.3.1, III.3.1, III.3.2, and IV.2.2

- the actions they have undertaken under each of the 15 sub-headings of this Communication, and

- the most successful practices they have identified in this period, with a view to disseminating them more widely, for example through the Objectives Process.

IV.3.3 The Commission will present a communication to the Parliament and the Council on these matters in 2007, and propose adjustments or further action where necessary.

9. ANTI-FRAUD MEASURES

The anti-fraud arrangements applying to the programmes which will be financing the various actions within this Action Plan will also apply to these actions.

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