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Unity in linguistic diversity – the European Parliament on multilingualism

On 24 March, the European Parliament (EP) issued a resolution on multilingualism, in reponse to the EU Commision’s Communication 'Multilingualism: an asset for Europe and a shared commitment' (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, September 2008). In the latter, the Commission gave an overview of what needs to be done to turn linguistic diversity into an asset for solidarity and prosperity.

The members of the European Parliament stressed that Europe's linguistic diversity constitutes a major cultural asset and that it would be wrong for the European Union to restrict itself to a single main language. With a view to education, amongst others, the EP

  • believes it necessary and appropriate to create opportunities for foreign language learning in adulthood and, through vocational and lifelong learning programmes, with a view to personal and professional development;
  • emphasises the vital need to provide special attention and support at school to pupils who cannot be educated in their mother tongue, and warmly welcomes the Commission proposal to promote 'mother tongue plus two' in education;
  • suggests to the member states that they examine the possibility of exchanges of teaching staff at different educational levels, with the aim of teaching different school subjects in different languages;
  • believes it is vital to promote mobility and exchanges of language teachers and students;
  • calls on the Council to produce an annual progress report on multilingualism in formal and informal education systems, vocational training and adult education in the member states, paying attention to the relationship between the prevalence of national, regional and minority languages and immigration; and
  • recommends that member states’ academic curricula include optional study of a third foreign language, starting at secondary school level;

The resolution was forwarded to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of member states.

European Parliament