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The Possibilities of Foreign Language Learning and the Culture of Plurilingualism


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Title: The Possibilities of Foreign Language Learning and the Culture of Plurilingualism

The Possibilities of Foreign Language Learning
and the Culture of Plurilingualism
  • Assoc. Prof. dr. Roma Kriauciuniene
  • The Institute of Foreign Languages
  • Vilnius University
  • 2013

  • EU policy of language learning and
  • European centre of modern languages -
    plurilingual and pluricultural approach to
    language learning
  • Plurilingual and intercultural education in
    vocational education curricula
  • The importance of foreign language competence in
    business world
  • The possibilities of foreign language learning at
    the Institute of Foreign Languages of Vilnius

EU policy of language learning and
  • Recommendation CM/Rec (2008)7 of the Committee of
    Ministers to member states on the use of the
    Council of Europes Common European Framework of
    Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the promotion
    of plurilingualism
  • Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 2 July

EU recommendations
  • Having taken into consideration
  • intensified international mobility
  • closer co-operation in education, culture and
  • in trade, commerce and industry
  • in all walks of life
  • Emphasizing
  • The political importance to promote
  • to diversify and intensify language learning in a
    pan-European context

EU recommendations based on
  • Recommendation 1383 (1998) of the Parliamentary
    Assembly of the Council of Europe on Linguistic
  • the conclusions and recommendations of the
    20th session of the Standing Conference of the
    European Ministers of Education (Cracow, 2000),
    and specifically the Resolution on the European
    Language Portfolio
  • Recommendation 1539 (2001) of the
    Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
    on The European Year of Languages
  • the conclusions of the Third Summit of Heads
    of State and Government of the Council of Europe
    (Warsaw, 2005)
  • the final Declaration of the 22nd session of
    the Standing Conference of the European Ministers
    of Education (Istanbul, 2007) entitled Building
    a more humane and inclusive Europe role of
    education policies

EU recommendations take into account
  • the added value of the Common European Framework
    of Reference for Languages (CEFR) 
  • the increasing significance of the CEFR as a
    European standard of reference for language
  • the growing value of the CEFR as a reference
    instrument for the European Qualifications
    Framework (EQF), Europass and the European
    Indicator of Language Competence
  • the conclusions of the 2007 Intergovernmental
    Policy Forum entitled The Common European
    Framework of Reference for Languages and the
    development of language policies challenges and

EU recommends that governments of member states
  • Implement the use of the Council of Europes
    Common European Framework of Reference for
    Languages (CEFR) and the promotion of
    plurilingualism at national, regional and local

National, regional and local education
authorities are invited to
  • 1) Create and/or maintain conditions favourable
    to the use of the CEFR as a tool for coherent,
    transparent and effective plurilingual education
    in such a way as to promote democratic
  • social cohesion
  • and intercultural dialogue, the Third Summit of
    Heads of State and Government of the Council of
    Europe (Warsaw, 2005)

  • 2) to promote and facilitate co-operation among
    educational institutions within and between
    member states
  • 3) provide a sound basis for the mutual
    recognition of foreign/second language
  • 4) to maintain and develop plurilingualism among
    citizens of Europe as a means of knowledge
    building and skills development, with a view to
    enhancing social cohesion and intercultural

  • 5) to encourage learners, teachers, teacher
    trainers, course designers, textbook authors,
    curriculum developers, examining bodies and
    education administrators to
  • adopt a learner-focused, action-oriented,
    competence-based approach
  • take into consideration the social and cultural
    dimensions of language learning
  • consider and treat each language in the
    curriculum not in isolation but as part of a
    coherent plurilingual education
  • take into consideration the specific needs of the
    different groups of learners and of the general
    needs of modern European societies
  • promote the use of the European Language
    Portfolio (ELP), which is based on the CEFR

Encourage language policy makers and education
administrators at all levels to
  • ensure that language instruction is fully
    integrated within the core of the educational
  • use a holistic approach, ensuring the coherence
    of objectives and attainments in all languages
    within a lifelong learning curriculum framework
  • promote the understanding of language use and
    competences throughout the educational process in
    order to create an informed public opinion on
    language issues in society and as a basis for
    autonomous language learning throughout life

  • Language teachers SHOULD
  • be assisted in using the CEFR effectively
    through appropriate training programmes
  • Be familiarised with the aims, principles and
    possible implementation of a plurilingual
  • give due consideration to the development of the
    learners plurilingual capacities

New situation in language education in Europe
  • Profound changes in the context in which
    languages are taught and learned in Europe
  • 1) A growing awareness at local, regional and
    national level, and in European bodies, of the
    importance of language skills has resulted in the
    acquisition of language competences being
    accorded a very high priority in education

  • 2) to increase the quality and effectiveness of
    learning and teaching places the notion of
    competence at the heart of the debate. This often
    leads to modern languages being offered as an
    example or model for other disciplines.
  • 3) The growing mobility of citizens, especially
    of workers and students, and the development of
    exchanges throughout Europe make it necessary to
    improve the transparency and portability of
    language qualifications.
  • 4) The growing personal and professional
    trans-border contacts and the clear value of
    international co-operation give new importance to
    the development of linguistic and intercultural
    understanding between citizens on either side.

  • 5) The rapid changes in the social fabric of
    society in the member states have added a special
    focus on communication, involving both
    plurilingual and intercultural skills, as a key
    means of contributing to social cohesion and
    intercultural understanding which are among the
    priorities set by the Heads of State and
    Government of the member states of the Council of
    Europe at their 3rd Summit in Warsaw (2005).
  • 6) the need to recognise the value of the
    linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe
    requires a re-examination of the role and place
    of the various languages (including national
    languages, regional or minority languages,
    languages of migrants), as well as of teaching
    objectives and the means of making
    plurilingualism accessible to every European.

The notion of plurilingualism (1)
  • Plurilingualism the lifelong expansion of the
    individuals linguistic repertoire. Each
    individuals plurilingual profile is made up of
    different languages and language varieties at
    different levels of proficiency in terms of
    various competences and skills. It is dynamic and
    changes in its composition throughout the life of
    an individual.

The notion of plurilingualism (2)
  • What distinguishes the concept of plurilingualism
    from the more usual term 'multilingualism' is
    that the languages and language varieties making
    up the linguistic repertoire of an individual are
    not seen as simply co-existing as completely
    separate entities, but as interacting, modifying
    and enriching each other, so as to form one
    overall communicative competence, all or any part
    of which can be called upon at any time as the
    situation demands.

A general recommendation to use the CEFR
  • as a tool for language policy making to promote
  • democratic citizenship,
  • social cohesion and
  • intercultural dialogue,

Democratic citizenship
  • The strengthening of pluralist parliamentary
    democracy governments being elected in free and
    fair elections
  • To replace authoritarian structures and attitudes
    by democratic structures and procedures
  • developing a strong, well-informed public opinion
    exercised by a citizenry independent in thought
    and action, willing and able to take
    responsibility for their personal development and
    social roles.
  • active and responsible citizens respectful of the
    rights of others.

Social cohesion and intercultural dialogue
  • the maintenance and development of a minority
    community's language and culture
  • However, the increasing mobility of individuals
    within and across national boundaries (economic
    migrants or asylum seekers), the formation of
    new minority communities in urban centres.
  • This process can be seen as arousing fear and
    resentment among members of both majority and
    minority communities.
  • Even where multilingualism and multiculturalism
    are recognised as rights, the concepts are often
    interpreted as the right of minorities to be
    tolerated but otherwise ignored by the majority,
  • while the minority may regard their language and
    culture as their exclusive possession, to be
    jealously guarded and preserved from
    contamination by outsiders.

Intercultural dialogue
  • Mutual exclusiveness and an absence of
    communication, mutual ignorance and stereotypical
    misunderstandings, open to political
  • A flexible plurilingual and pluricultural policy
    promotes language learning as a bridge across all
  • as a source of mutual understanding and
    enrichment beneficial to all those concerned.
  • It encourages mutual respect, free communication
    and interaction between communities, and offers a
    positive contribution to social cohesion and
    intercultural dialogue.

European Centre of Modern Languages
  • Council of Europe language education policies aim
    to promote - PLURILINGUALISM all are entitled
    to develop a degree of communicative ability in a
    number of languages over their lifetime in
    accordance with their needs - LINGUISTIC
    DIVERSITY Europe is multilingual and all its
    languages are equally valuable modes of
    communication and expressions of identity the
    right to use and to learn ones language(s) is
    protected in Council of Europe Conventions -
    MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING the opportunity to learn
    other languages is an essential condition for
    intercultural communication and acceptance of
    cultural differences - DEMOCRATIC CITIZENSHIP
    participation in democratic and social processes
    in multilingual societies is facilitated by the
    plurilingual competence of individuals - SOCIAL
    COHESION equality of opportunity for personal
    development, education, employment, mobility,
    access to information and cultural enrichment
    depends on access to language learning throughout

Policies for plurilingualism
  • Globalisation and internationalisation pose new
  • Language skills essential if individuals
  • are to benefit from opportunities in employment
    and mobility
  • to participate actively in the social and
    political processes which are an integral part of
    democratic citizenship in the multilingual
    societies This increasing focus on language
    policies for democratic citizenship and social
    cohesion reflects the priority which the Council
    of Europe accords to education for citizenship
    and intercultural dialogue in the 21st century.
  • It is reflected in the goal of education for
    plurilingual and intercultural citizens capable
    of interacting in a number of languages across
    linguistic and cultural boundaries.

  • Council of Europe policy attaches particular
    importance to the development of plurilingualism
    the lifelong enrichment of the individuals
    plurilingual repertoire. This repertoire is made
    up of different languages and language varieties
    at different levels of proficiency and includes
    different types of competences. It is dynamic and
    changes in its composition throughout an
    individuals life.

Development of plurilingualism
  • different languages are not learned in isolation
    and can influence each other both in the learning
    process and communicative use.
  • Education systems need to ensure the harmonious
    development of learners plurilingual competence
    through a coherent, transversal and integrated
    approach that takes into account all the
    languages in learners plurilingual repertoire
    and their respective functions.
  • This includes promoting learners consciousness
    of their existing repertoires and potential to
    develop and adapt those repertoires to changing

A plurilingual person has
  • - a repertoire of languages and language
    varieties - competences of different kinds and
    levels within the repertoire Plurilingual
    education promotes an awareness of - why and
    how one learns the languages one has chosen - and
    the ability to use transferable skills in
    language learning - a respect for the
    plurilingualism of others
  • the value of languages and varieties irrespective
    of their perceived status in society - a respect
    for the cultures embodied in languages and the
    cultural identities of others - an ability to
    perceive and mediate the relationships which
    exist among languages and cultures - a global
    integrated approach to language education in the

Plurilingual and intercultural education in
vocational education curricula
  • The consequences of plurilingual and
    intercultural education for the objectives
  • The level of competency for each language
  • The complementary competencies in all the
    languages that learners know and are learning,
    (languages of origin, regional or minority
    languages and the language or languages of
  • all the learners full awareness of the
    potential and richness of their individual
  • alongside the levels of proficiency to be
    achieved, a strategic capacity to draw on all the
    skills and expertise acquired.
  • Strategic competency has to be interpreted as a
    pupils capacity to make the best possible use,
    each according to his or her resources, of his or
    her knowledge and skills in order to deal with
    the various communication situations that may be

Objectives 1
  • an ability to affect transfers between languages
    and to mediate between the languages concerned or
    between the kinds of text.
  • It also requires the ability to make a
    controlled shift from one language to another,
    according to needs and individual resources, and
    even to master situations of multilingual
    dialogue, i.e. an ability to make him or herself
    understood by someone from another culture who
    speaks another language, and to understand
    interaction in another language.
  • All this of course depends on teaching methods
    and explanations of the content of the teaching,
    but it may also be included among the explicit

Objectives 2
  • To relate to intercultural skills, meaning the
    ability to interact responsibly and critically,
    but in a friendly way, with people who are
  • Intercultural competency presupposes both
    knowledge dispensed by education and individual
    experience of others, either through situations
    created during language classes or through
    experience of contact, international co-operation
    and mobility.
  • Knowledge and experience, however, give rise to
    competencies only if explanations are given and a
    thinking process takes place.
  • The clear inclusion of intercultural education
    among the objectives pursued may effectively help
    pupils to move on from a series of experiences to
    a competency which can be generalised and
    transferred to all the situations they will meet
    in their individual careers.

Language teaching methods
  • the usefulness of communication tasks likely to
    make use of the relevant competencies.
  • It is clear that project-based teaching and
    simulations of specific situations are frequently
    part of this training.
  • to enable them to experience regular success
  • This means not just valuing pupils' ability to
    achieve the objectives set, but far more
    important is a deliberate effort to place them
    in situations where they can succeed.

  • will come to realise that the teaching that they
    are receiving does effectively enable them to
    learn ways of successfully completing certain
  • The important thing is to make the valuing and a
    growing awareness of any progress, even limited,
    a constant part of the language teaching process.
  • In line with this concern, the progress being
    monitored must not relate solely to the level of
    language skills, but just as much to the gradual
    acquisition of strategies.

  • a balance between the communication tasks
    expected of learners and time to consider what
    they have learned and the experience they have
    gained in performing these tasks.
  • Such consideration may also extend to the way in
    which pupils have managed to make use of the
    resources in their repertoire. It may also be
    extended to the internal variability of those
    languages known to the learners, to make it
    easier for them to become aware of the existence
    of different registers and the appropriateness of
    these to communication situations, and to make
    them more aware of the diversity of their own
    language resources.

Content to be acquired.
  • Training pupils to cope with communication tasks
    associated with job-related situations
  • It is important the communication situations
    should make it possible to ensure that the pupils
    progress in the use of not only language skills,
    but also, in line with the ideas above, strategic
    competencies which are a full part of the content
    of this teaching.

Language education content may be summed up in a
few points
  • - it must include in its own right consistent
    work on learning strategies, during independent
    work as well
  • - it must give priority to competencies which cut
    across all languages,
  • - to include in this content the learning of
    systematic exploitation of the synergies between
    the languages learned and those known by pupils
    (through contrast-based work, through valuing
    risk-taking in transfers between languages, etc)
  • - it is essential that the content taught must
    include reasoned and continuing learning of
    communication strategies transferable to all
    languages, which are all the more vital for the
    fact that language skills may be fragile. These
    include strategies for compensation and for
    planning how the learner is to carry out a task
    and monitoring how it is done, and so on.

The importance of languages in business
  • The survey Effects on the European Economy of
    Shortages of Foreign Language Skills in
    Enterprise conducted by UK Nationa l Centre for
    Languages in 2005 found out
  • A significant amount of busines is lost in UK due
    to lack of language skills. 11 of exporting
    European SMS maybe losing business
  • The survey identified a clear link between
    languages and export success.
  • English is a key language for gaining access to
    foreign markets, gaining their importance are
    Russian, Polish, German, French and Spanish.

Findings from large companies
  1. Recruitment of staff with language skills
  2. English is used as an intermediary language it
    is a corporate language in many multinationals.
  3. Demand for skills in languages other than English
    was greater than the demand for English.
  4. An encouragement of informal networking and this
    tends to favour an multilingual environment.

Recommendations of the survey
  • Exploitand develop language skills
  • Provide trainig for employees
  • Provide work experience opportunities for foreign
    students or employees
  • Make use of langauge skills available, including
    those of migrant workers
  • Support education and training programmes linking
    languages and enterprise, wrking with schools,
    colleges and universities

The Institute of Foreign Languages of Vilnius
  • English, German , French and Russian are taught
    for specific purposes for the students of all the
    faculties of Vilnius University
  • The second foreign language learning
    possibilities are
  • to study as an optional subject
  • Non-credited studies