Strangely enough language teaching and learning have never been very high on the Bologna reform agenda. In spite of an immense commitment displayed by language teachers, few universities have managed to create and sustain language resource centres. In certain (worst-case) scenarios, language (national and foreign) classes and language tuition facilities have been dropped! The workload of students for their scientific discipline is so big that there is no time and room left for language learning. The time has come to change radically some Bologna effects on curricula; and languages are first on the list. Indeed the issue of languages has never been so topical as the Commission (DG Education) is announcing reinforced programmes (2014-2020) under the heading Erasmus for all; more mobility, more flexibility, more innovation, more capacity building.
In such an open context (EU and the world), how can languages and cultures be left aside and when Brussels and Bologna agree, the great winners are the students in our universities. Skills and competences include language literacy and it is the mission of our universities to make sure students can be properly trained in that field. And quality – not lingua franca - is a key word here! Beyond the necessary academic/economic dimension of language proficiency (employability, world market, job opportunities, international team work, etc.), the personal and social/societal dimensions have become evident and add to the motivation of speaking foreign languages; mobility invites to more dialogue, more understanding, more exchange with more people at all levels in society. CERCLES, with its rich experience, can help more and more universities build a language policy; it offers strong arguments (examples of success stories, active language centres, efficient networks in EU, innovation) to convince colleagues from other disciplines (non-language) to adopt creative and fruitful language strategies - from education to research.
Above all it is urgent to drop the current language policy of laisser-faire, highly reductive and limited. A language policy is not only a policy for a university; it is also a policy for an environment, culturally and socially defined. More than ever it is linked to citizenship and the European project (education is one of the five priorities in the 2020 strategy). It is time for European citizens to become language-wise…
About the author:
Régis Ritz, Professeur émérite, Université Michel de Montaigne, Bordeaux
Studies in Lyon University, Paris-Sorbonne, London University. Doctorate in English literature (1977).
Former President of Michel de Montaigne University/Bordeaux (1989-1994); former president and founder of Pôle Universitaire de Bordeaux, a consortium of the 4 Bordeaux universities (1996-2003); chair of the International Relations Committee of the French University Presidents Conference /CPU (1990-1994); OECD expert for the Programme on Institutional Management in Higher Education-IMHE/OCDE (1996-2003); promoter of the Socrates mobility programmes (1996-2000); director of the Bordeaux University Department of French as a foreign language (1994-2002). Member of the pool of experts (since 2002) for the Institutional Evaluation Programme (IEP) run by the Association of European University (EUA-Brussels); chair of the evaluation board of the Thematic Network Programme (TNP3) in the area of languages and of MOLAN (Motivation for languages) run by Freie Universität Berlin and ELC (European Language Council-Conseil Européen des Langues) since 2007. Currently engaged in a Quality Assurance programme for universities in Southeast Africa.
Recent publications on the topic of university language policy:
The Bologna process does not even pay the usual lipservice to minority languages as languages of teaching and learning that many international organisations do. One of the four “action areas” for this conference is “Minority languages and their place under Bologna”. Well – minority languages, and especially, their speakers, are more or less invisible under the auspices of the Bologna process. The continued existence of minority languages is about the maintenance and development of diversities, including linguistic diversity. The Bologna process is mainly about homogenisation. These two concepts, diversity and homogenisation, are no easy bedfellows.
The lecture will describe what kind of linguistic human rights minority languages, and minority language speakers, either as individuals or as groups, have in international human rights law. What kind of rights do various international and European Covenants, Conventions and Declarations grant them, especially in education. The short answer is: few. Then I ask whether these rights are sufficient to maintain the world’s linguistic diversity. Here the answer is: no. A very optimistic prognosis is that half of today’s spoken languages will be more or less extinct by the end of this century; a more pessimistic but realistic prognosis is that 90-95% of them will no longer exist or at least not be learned by children by the end of the century. The next question is: why should Indigenous, tribal and minority languages and, with them, the world’s linguistic diversity be maintained? Would not “downsizing multilingualism” be in everybody’s interest? In some Bologna documents, “internationalisation” seems to equal English-medium education. Arguments for linguistic diversity and MLE (mother-tongue-based multilingual education) will be presented. Finally, the homogenisation will, together with growthism (= the myth of the necessity of “economic growth”) be analysed as a central causal factor in today’s interrelated global crises.
No quick fixes will be proposed.
About the author:
Dr. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (emerita), bilingual from birth in Finnish and Swedish, has been actively involved with struggles for language rights for five decades. Research interests: linguistic human rights; linguistic genocide and crimes against humanity in the education of Indigenous/ tribal/ minority/ minoritised children; linguicism (linguistically argued racism); mother-tongue-based multilingual education, MLE; linguistic imperialism and the subtractive spread of English; support for endangered languages and their revitalisation; and the relationship between linguistic and cultural diversity and biodiversity. Some books in English (for more, including downloadable articles and publications in press, see www.tove-skutnabb-kangas.org): Bilingualism or Not: the Education of Minorities (1984); Linguistic Human Rights. Overcoming Linguistic Discrimination, ed. with Robert Phillipson (1994); Linguistic Genocide in Education - or Worldwide Diversity and Human Rights? (2000); Sharing a World of Difference. The Earth's Linguistic, Cultural, and Biological Diversity (with Luisa Maffi and David Harmon, 2003), Imagining Multilingual Schools: Language in Education and Glocalization, ed. with Ofelia García and María Torres-Guzmán (2006), Social Justice through Multilingual Education (2009), ed. with Ajit Mohanty, Minati Panda, and Robert Phillipson; Indigenous Children’s Education as Linguistic Genocide and a Crime Against Humanity? A Global View (2010, with Robert Dunbar; http://www.e-pages.dk/grusweb/55/); Multilingual Education Works: from the Periphery to the Centre, ed. with Kathleen Heugh (2010). Tove was the recipient of the Linguapax prize in 2003. She lives on a small organic farm in Denmark with husband Robert Phillipson.
Books in press:
Books in 2010:
Books in 2009:
Le nouvel objectif assigné à l'enseignement des langues en Europe par les auteurs du Cadre Européen Commun de Référence pour les Langues (CECRL, 2001), à savoir la formation d'un "acteur social", ainsi que la nouvelle "perspective actionnelle" qu'elle provoque, correspondent à l'émergence, en didactique des langues, d'une "configuration didactique" différente de celle à laquelle appartenaient l'approche par les tâches et l'approche communicative. L'enseignement sur objectifs spécifiques, qui vise la formation à un usage professionnel de la langue étrangère, est a priori directement concerné par cette évolution. Dix ans après la publication du CECRL, on fera le point sur le point sur les implications pratiques de cette évolution, avec des exemples concrets empruntés à des matériels didactiques publiés récemment.
About the author:
Didacticien des langues-cultures, spécialiste en français et en espagnol langues étrangères, Christian PUREN est Professeur émérite de l'Université de Saint-Étienne (France) depuis septembre 2008.
Il est Président d'Honneur:
Il est l’auteur de deux ouvrages maintenant téléchargeables librement en ligne sur son site personnel http://www.christianpuren.com :
Il est co-auteur des trois ouvrages collectifs suivants :
Universities are under pressure. Academic freedoms are being restricted by governments and the corporate world commissioning particular types of research, by more status being accorded to publications in English rather than other languages, by the marketisation of higher education globally (English-only campuses as an export business, applied linguistics and language services being outsourced), and by the Bologna process coercing European higher education into a single template. The key policy documents of the Bologna process neglect language policy, never referring to how multilingualism could, let alone should, be strengthened as a constituent of Bologna activities. In effect therefore ‘internationalisation’ is conflated with English-medium education, at least from the Masters level upwards.
The historical record shows that British and US imperial policies have explicitly aimed at physical and mental occupation worldwide. The myth of terra nullius, expounded by Locke, served to legitimate European colonial dominance, but was denounced by Kant. Americanisation has been exported as a cultura nullius serving to consolidate consumerism and the underlying military and economic system. Neoliberalism increases inequality that is a causal factor in dysfunctional capitalist societies. The economic and political integration of Europe has been closely coordinated with and choreographed by the US.
The presence of English has been dramatically increased throughout Europe. Its active promotion worldwide is of major political and economic significance for the UK and the USA. Advocates of English as universally valid, including the current applied linguistic vogue for analysing English as a ‘lingua franca’, see English as a lingua nullius detached from the forces behind is expansion. EU policies advocate multilingualism but many EU practices, for instance in the field of research, strengthen English at the expense of other languages. National language policies should strengthen the local ecology of languages plus competence in ‘international’ languages, mainly but definitely not exclusively English. Concern in France and Germany about the expansion of English has not yet led to coherent national policies. Some promising steps have been taken in this direction by the governments of the Nordic countries. All universities in the Nordic countries have been encouraged to formulate explicit language policies for fostering multilingualism, and for creating a balance between national languages and international languages.
About the author:
Robert Phillipson is a Professor Emeritus at Copenhagen Business School. He emigrated from the UK to Denmark in 1973, after working for the British Council in four countries. He was for many years at Roskilde University, where multidisciplinary project work was the pedagogical norm. His books on language learning, language policy, linguistic human rights, and multilingual education (several in partnership with Tove Skutnabb-Kangas) have been published in eleven countries. He was awarded the 2010 UNESCO Linguapax prize. He is best known for Linguistic imperialism(Oxford UP 1992, also published in India and China, and in translation into Arabic). Linguistic imperialism continued(Routledge 2009) assesses the continued dominance of English and the implications for other languages. English-only Europe? Challenging language policy (Routledge 2003) argues for EU language policy to take diversity more seriously and suggests ways of achieving this. For details of CV and publications, including recent articles for downloading, see http://www.cbs.dk/staff/phillipson.