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    Putting plurilingualism into practice

Putting plurilingualism into practice within the work of the ECML

English and French are the two official working languages of the Council of Europe, but does that mean they are the only two languages used at the ECML? Of course not! The ECML embraces and actively encourages plurilingualism whenever and wherever possible, both formally and informally.
In order to provide the reader with concrete examples of these plurilingual practices, it’s helpful to begin with a reminder of our programme structure. ECML 4-year programmes consist of two strands: the development strand and the mediation strand

The development strand

primarily covers innovation projects which result in new resources for language professionals. In addition to projects, and usually when addressing a particularly challenging or new aspect of language education, the ECML may choose to organise a think tank, either as stand-alone event or as a way of launching a new project.

The mediation strand

consists of in-country Training and consultancy, as well as on activities for a wider public, such as the European Day of Languages (EDL), webinars and conferences.

The development strand

It is important to differentiate between project outputs - the new resources the team members commit to producing – and project activities, such as team meetings, workshops and network meetings.

As far as project outputs are concerned, team members commit to producing these in at least two languages, one of which must be either English or French. Many project teams choose both English AND French, but others opt for different combinations, such as English and German, English and International Sign or, where feasible, English, French and German. These choices will depend on the linguistic expertise of the individual team members and on the intended project target group. In addition, project team members often present the intended project output in their own language on the project website, thereby reaching out to a wider audience. (see Mediation in teaching, learning and assessment example) They might also choose to organise surveys as part of the development process and to offer these in several languages.

Once a project is completed and the outputs have been published, these are often so popular that others within the languages community offer to translate them into additional languages. Just take a look at our resource database – the number of language options below should give you an idea of just how many resources exist in languages other than English and French!

On a formal level, project activities will operate in the same language/s as the project itself; informally, however, every opportunity is taken to encourage plurilingualism, for example when experts have another language in common or can use inter-comprehension strategies to communicate across languages within the same family. At larger events, the organising team might choose to create language-specific sub-groups to work on a particular aspect of the project. This is why we ask network and workshop participants to provide us with their complete linguistic profile on the application form. The same principles apply to ECML think tanks.

The mediation strand

Training and consultancy activities (TaC) draw on completed project outputs and are often delivered by the same experts who were members of the former project team. In the first instance these activities are offered in the same languages as the related project outputs. In many cases however, TaC teams expand to include new team members and as the linguistic repertoire of the team grows, so too does the possibility of delivering the TaC activity in a wider range of languages.

Activities for a wider public such as conferences or webinars, often include elements in languages other than English or French. And the ECML’s most emblematic activity for a wider public, the European Day of Languages, is the perfect example of plurilingualism in practice with many of the resources, such as the EDL language challenge app, now available in 31 languages or the picture book for children, Lara’s journey, available in over 25 languages with the number increasing year on year. Thanks to support from the EDL relays, the EDL website itself is partially available in 42 languages.

Translating ECML resources into additional languages

Perhaps you have come across an ECML resource which you feel is particularly appropriate and useful in your context but which does not exist in the language version you are looking for. Why not help us reach out to more language professionals by offering to translate it or by identifying someone in your country who would be willing to do this? If so, please contact the ECML for advice and guidance.

The ECML can help you with translation in a number of ways
We can help ensure that you get formal authorisation from the Council of Europe to carry out the translation. The process is quick and easy and doesn’t cost a penny! 

And once the translation is finished, we will format it and publish it on our website. We will also promote using all our communication channels and list it on our home page in the section entitled “New language versions of ECML resources”.

Conclusion: the ECML bridging languages and cultures

Just as plurilingualism is encouraged and supported across all programme activities, the same applies to any other meeting – formal or informal – that takes place at the ECML. While interpretation and documentation are usually restricted to the official languages, exchanges are hugely enriched when those taken part draw on their full linguistic repertoire and show willingness to mediate across languages and cultures.