Conference NebrijaWelcome to the II International Conference on Applied Linguistics to Language Teaching: Towards Plurilingualism, an opportunity for researchers and teachers, both experts and novices, to share the results of their studies and didactic experiences.

Developing a multilingual competence of citizens is a lifelong learning task, integrating the efforts of the educational system, the scientific community, the experts in language learning and its teaching, the certifying institutions, as well as the personal motivation and effort of each individual. The interdisciplinary nature of applied linguistics can address the multiple challenges of multilingualism.

The languages present in the Conference are English, French, German and Spanish, with a panel specific for each of them, composed of the following sections: oral presentations, workshops, posters and junior research projects

In this second edition of the International Conference we have as a novelty our invitation to researchers and teachers of other languages, due to the interest they may have in the development of plurilingual competencies. Therefore, we are glad to receive Catalan and Chinese as guest languages.

Representatives of the six linguistic communities, will discuss in two round tables about the challenges of the multilingual society and about different aspects of the assessment of communicative language competence in foreign languages.

The programme is rounded off with a series of master lectures given by international leading experts in the most recent aspects of the Conference’s topics.

Those papers selected by a group of anonymous experts for their remarkable interest and scientific rigour will be published in a collective book of scientific nature.

More info at


Languages are in vogue in the fashion industry

model in red dress on catwalkInternational brands and overseas supply chains make languages essential for a career in fashion.

Being multilingual can help you make the best of opportunities in the competitive fashion world. Although English remains the industry’s current lingua franca, the flexibility gained by learning another language can take your career to the top.

Read more interesting findings

Arsène Wenger: Public Language Champion

Arsene Wenger

The British Academy-Guardian Language Festival was highly successful in promoting language learning through its School Language Awards announcing 13 prize winners, including seven supplementary and six state schools, for innovation in how to increase the numbers of students learning languages at higher levels. Here are the festival highlights.

The Festival concluded with the very high profile award of the first ever Public Language Champion going to Arsène Wenger, Manager of Arsenal Football Club. Arsène, in addition to being an outstanding football manager, speaks English, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese in addition to French. His passion for language learning has led to the development of the Double Club, a scheme which encourages children in primary and secondary schools to develop their language skills through football.

Perhaps with a presage of David Cameron’s recent support for the learning of Mandarin Chinese, Arsène said that he would like to learn Chinese one day. S2F will be developing closer links with the Arsenal Double Club to promote language learning in London and nation-wide throughout 2014.

Read more

„Zwangsschwedisch“ in Finnland – Mandatory Swedish in Finland

An initiative to stop mandatory Swedish language classes in Finland reached 50,000 signatures in 6 months, meaning it must be considered by the Finnish parliament. Raija Laube (British Council Germany) is a Finn living in Germany. She gives her reaction to this news.


Als eine finnischsprachige Finnin habe ich mit Bedauern die Diskussion und die Sammlung von Unterschriften gegen den obligatorischen Schwedischunterricht in den finnischen Schulen verfolgt und die ganze Zeit leise gehofft,  dass diese Bewegung am Ende doch ohne Erfolg bleiben würde.

Natürlich war es damals in der Schule etwas lästig, diese Sprache lernen zu müssen, wenn wir doch lieber eine andere und eine mehr verbreitete Sprache hätten lernen wollen. Es mangelte an Motivation. Es gab zwar schwedische Sendungen im Fernsehen aber doch viel mehr englischsprachige oder deutsche Fernsehfilme. Um die Motivation zu steigern, verbrachten wir einige Wochen während der  Sommerferien in schwedischsprachigen Familien. Es half nicht viel. Erst, als ich die Sprache so gut beherrschte, dass ich schwedische Bücher in Original lesen konnte, fand ich daran richtig gefallen. Es ist ein Erlebnis Håkan Nesser in Original zu lesen und es ist ein Fest unsere eigenen finnlandsschwedischen Autoren ohne den Umweg der Übersetzung lesen und verstehen zu können. Ich möchte Kjell Westö, Monika Fagerholm oder Lars Sund  u.a. nicht vermissen.  Ich bin sehr dankbar für den Beitrag, den  die Autoren, Komponisten (Sibelius) und andere Künstler für das Kulturleben Finnlands erbracht haben.

Für mich und für andere Personen in meinem Umkreis hat das Schulschwedisch unser Leben bereichert. Es gibt viel Zusammenarbeit zwischen Finnland und den Skandinavischen Ländern in vielen Bereichen. Meine Schwester als Kinderpsychologin beteiligte sich an Nordischen Projekten. Es wäre kaum ohne Schwedischkenntnisse möglich gewesen.

Und zu guter Letzt die Sprache selbst: Ich kenne keine andere Sprache, in der man so vielfältig mit Perfekt Partizip jonglieren und jubilieren kann.

Raija Laube

Case Study: Taaltaske (‘Language Pack’) – Early Language Learning in Friesland

Language Rich Europe promotes the sharing of good practice in the area of multilingualism. On our website, you can read and submit your own case studies.

In this post, we focus on one from the Dutch province of Friesland, which is actively promoting early language learning.

Many recommend learning languages as early as possible – improved literacy skills, increased confidence, more effective cognitive skills and a broader cultural understanding are just a few of the benefits often mentioned. New research even suggests that we can begin learning languages before we are born.

In Friesland, the bilingual province of the Netherlands, they take early language learning seriously – issuing a language pack (Taaltaske) to all parents when they register a birth. The pack contains information on raising a bilingual child, a Frisian children’s book and CD with children’s songs.  As the case study on the Language Rich Europe website explains

Young/future Frisian parents in the Province of Fryslân are often not aware of the possibilities of raising their child bilingually. The Taaltaske is a way to explain to them how they can go about raising their child bilingually.

This early introduction to Frisian is supported by formal education, with the language being a compulsory subject in primary schools and many using it as the language of instruction.

Submit your own case study now!

International Conference on Endangered Languages in Europe

The Interdisciplinary Centre for Social and Language Documentation (CIDLeS) invites scholars working on endangered languages in Europe and on Language Documentation to attend the International Conference on Endangered Languages in Europe. The conference will be held on October 17-18th, 2013 at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Social and Language Documentation (CIDLeS), Minde, Portugal.

The conference aims to:

  • Provide an interdisciplinary forum in which scholars from Language Documentation, Language Technology and others working on European endangered languages can exchange ideas and techniques on language documentation, archiving, and revitalisation;
  • Include further discussion and research into linguistic diversity in Europe;
  • Reflect on language policy issues.

The second day of the Conference will have two special panels: one focusing on the endangered languages in the Iberian Peninsula and a round table, dedicated to the theme “new speakers of minority/endangered languages”.

The Conference will include a socio-cultural program related to the theme “Endangered Languages in Europe” with the aim of promoting intercultural exchange and reinforcing the relationship between linguists and language communities. On 19 October 2013 there will be a “Language Fair”, in which members of endangered language communities in Europe will present their languages and cultures through book displays, and cultural events (music, theatre, movies, exhibitions, etc.). On the evenings of 18 and 19 October there will be an Endangered Languages Music Festival.

Plenary speakers

  • Ulrike Mosel (University of Kiel)
  • Mandana Seyfeddinipur (School of Oriental and African Studies, London)
  • Sebastian Drude (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen)
  • Fernando Ramallo (University of Vigo)

Scientific committee

  • Annette Endruschat (University of Regensburg)
  • Michael Cysouw (University of Marburg)
  • Frank Seifart (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig)
  • Wolfgang Schulze (University of Munich)
  • Xosé Afonso Pérez Álvarez (University of Lisbon)
  • Lachlan Mackenzie  (ILTEC, Lisbon)
  • Johannes Helmbrecht (University of Regensburg)
  • Peter-Arnold Mumm (University of Munich)
  • Nikolaus Himmelmann (University of Cologne)
  • Geoffrey Haig (University of Bamberg)

Organizing committee

  • Vera Ferreira
  • Peter Bouda
  • Francisco Vicente
  • Rita Pedro
  • António Lopes
  • Ingrid Scholz
  • Paulo Vicente

For more information please contact and visit the following websites:

Learning languages a way out of crisis, says Vassiliou

Androulla Vassiliou posing in front of the poster of the "Language Rich Europe" networking project

Androulla Vassiliou posing in front of the poster of the “Language Rich Europe” networking project

Our Language Rich Europe Closing Conference took place earlier this week in Brussels on 5 March and called to action for European governments to improve language policies to ensure economic competitiveness and build more inclusive societies. European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, addressed the Conference:

“If we want more mobile students and workers, and businesses that can operate on a European and world scale, we need better language competences – and these must be better targeted to the current and future needs of the labour market,” she said.

The latest European Commission figures show that in 2011 just 42% of European 15-year-olds were competent in their first foreign language, despite often having learned it from seven years of age. Furthermore, the figure differed hugely across different EU countries, with 82% for Sweden and just 9% for Britain.

The commissioner added that fostering languages was about more than employment for professional linguists, translators and interpreters.

“Our society will always need language specialists – professional linguists translating or interpreting, such as those people in the booths covering our proceedings today,” she said. “But languages, like politics, are too important to our lives to be left to specialists only.”

Read the full summary here.

English as the language of Europe?

In this guest post, Christiane Keilig from the British Council in Berlin shares her views on why just English isn’t enough.

Last Friday the German president, Joachim Gauck, proposed to make English the language of the EU.  I was surprised to hear it  – why did he say that? Just to appease the British and make sure they stay aboard the EU? Or to allay fears that Germany is becoming too powerful? It’s probably a bit of both. But, thinking about it, it does seem to make sense, because:

  • English is comparatively easy to learn (I had to learn Latin and Greek  as first foreign languages and I rejoiced in English)
  • It is already an established business language and dominates in certain areas, for instance IT and banking
  • It is the language spoken by big economies

Okay, but.

There are also other huge economies out there and I would argue that if you want to sell a product or a service to a foreign market, you need to speak their language and not just English.

Because a market, or rather, countries, are also about culture and I believe that you cannot truly understand a culture without speaking the language – language itself reveals a lot about a country’s mindset.

Also, business is not all. Especially in Europe and in times of crisis, it is important that we understand each other – we cannot afford to threaten a construct which, although fraught with bureaucracy, is also there to maintain peace. Personally, I sometimes think that aspect is sadly underrated.

Moreover, in times of globalisation and mobility, with families living and working far away from their home country, it’s also important their children can learn their mother tongue – it is a vital part of their identity and culture.  So it’s not just about learning the language of the country they’re now living in and then ‘just’ English.

Just to pick up on one of the areas of the project’s research: Education. The Language Rich Europe research clearly shows a tendency for English as the most widely chosen language to be learned at school – which could be seen to be endangering the diversity of languages.  It is important that especially at school other languages are taught with the same importance attached to them .

For instance, the school my son goes to offers English, French and Latin and you can choose the order in which you learn the languages. I convinced him to learn Latin first, as that gives him a good basis for grammar and all romanic languages. It would be a shame if opportunities like that would disappear.

At the conference on 5  March, Language Rich Europe’s experts will present recommendations for more language diversity in the areas of Education, Audiovisual Media and Press, Public services and Spaces, and Business. They will present the outcomes of the project’s research and will surely provide food for thought and discussions.

Why not join the debate? Do you think English should be the language of Europe?  Comment here or tweet @LanguageRich  to  let us know what you think!

Is English still the dominant language of higher education? – LRE is a panelist in Guardian live chat

Language Rich Europe is looking forward to being a panelist on tomorrow’s Guardian live chat - Is English still the dominant language of higher education?

Join the panel on the Guardian’s website on 15 February from 12-2pm GMT for a live chat on issues such as whether global higher education is being dominated by one language and what the implications of this might be on institutions.

The live chat is in partnership with ETS TOEFL and panelists include:

You can read more about Language Rich Europe’s research into languages in higher education institutions on our website:

Language Rich Europe launch – Denmark

In the latest of our launch events, Language Rich Europe will be launching the results of its research in Denmark on 6 February 2013. The programme is as follows:

Welcome: Sabine Kirchmeier-Andersen, Director, Danish Language Council

Presentation of LRE project: Aneta Quraishy, LRE Senior Project Manager, British Council

Presentation of LRE results: Professor Guus Extra, Tilburg University

Languages in Denmark in 3 language monitors, LRE, ELM and META-net: Sabine Kirchmeier-Andersen

Multilingualism in Denmark: Writer and Adj. prof. Peter Harder, Copenhagen Business School, Network for multilingualism ‘Ja-til sprog

Questions and panel discussion.

There will also be live-tweeting from the event from Language Rich Europe’s twitter account

You can read the results of the Denmark LRE research in Danish and English on our website.