Multilingualism has been described as an "asset for Europe and a shared commitment". This may, however, be more a vision of what might be than a description of reality. Reality is mediated not only by the vision (what people think), but by policy decisions (laws and regulations) and by performance (what we actually do).
A one year project - LETPP - has therefore been initiated in order to identify the conditions which allow good ideas on multilingualism to develop into coherent policy and practice, and also the obstacles to that happening. By policy we mean European, national and regional strategies which promote or inhibit linguistic diversity in social and economic life, and also specific measures which may support that diversity, such as the Lifelong Learning Programme. The two major strands of LE TPP are languages for social cohesion (questions of identity, community and mutual understanding), and languages for intercultural communication (questions of commerce, employability, and international relations). Taken together these underpin the aspiration to create a viable, competitive and democratic society based on principles of diversity, inclusiveness and mutual respect.
The specific stages and events within the project are as follows –
- Initial scoping of the key issues
- Two seminars – one on Languages and Social Cohesion (at the LSE), and one on Languages
and Intercultural Communication/Employability (at the House of Lords) to establish key
questions and an outline for further discussion.
- An international conference - UNLOCKING THE GATES OF LANGUAGES
- An on line consultation.
- Dissemination in member states and through transnational networks
- Proposals for sustained dialogue
Participants will be language practitioners from all sectors, experts and researchers on multilingualism and policy makers and advisers.
The organisers of LE TPP are The London School of Economics and Political Science and The Languages Company, established to support the English National Languages Strategy. They will be working with CERCLES (the European Confederation of Languages Centres in Higher Education) and FIPLV (Fédération Internationale des Professeurs de Langues Vivantes) and the project is also supported by the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages, Westminster.
The main outcome will be a Report outlining the main issues, current good practice and proposals for future action to overcome obstacles and promote positive conditions where linguistic diversity will flourish. The project will also lead to the establishment of a working group which will study how to create a network of ongoing support for multilingual policies and to facilitate greater synergy between theory, policy and practice in this sphere.