Meeting report 2010 - foundation
Professional Network Forum founded in Graz
On 7 January, in Graz, Austria, the INGO-Professional Network Forum on language education was founded at the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) of the Council of Europe. The first ever meeting of its kind brought together eight renowned international associations acting in this area which all signed bilateral cooperation agreements with the ECML. Representatives from the Language Policy Division of the Council of Europe, the Multilingualism Policy Unit of the European Commission, and the Canadian institutional ECML partner – the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute of the University of Ottawa (OLBI) also participated in the meeting. Professor Henry Widdowson (Vienna University) provided comments from the perspective of an independent expert in the field.
The one day event enabled the partners to gain a common understanding of the working context and the respective competences of the associations (1) Through this 1st Forum the Centre seeks to further intensify its links with professional bodies working in language education and to create synergies between organisations with similar aims. The modalities for ongoing cooperation have already been defined in bilateral cooperation agreements signed between the European Centre for Modern Languages and the Official Language and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI) at the University of Ottawa, Canada, the European Association for Quality Language Services (EAQUALS), the World Federation of Modern Language Associations (FIPLV), the Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE), the International Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA), the International Certificate Conference (ICC), the European Confederation of Language Centres in Higher Education (CercleS), the European Association for Language Testing in Europe (EALTA) and the CEL/ELC, Conseil européen pour les langues/European Language Council. – which all deal with policy, research and practice to a different extent – and to become more aware of the common issues shared and challenges identified within the Professional Network Forum.
Harald Hartung, Head of the Multilingualism Policy Unit of the European Commission, praised the initiative to establish the network and saw its future success as lying in “the smart selection of topics”.
In her closing statement, Johanna Panthier, the representative of the Council of Europe Language Policy Division, encouraged the associations which enjoy participatory status with the Council "to make better use of this platform and attend appropriate meetings organised by the Conference of INGOs, if need be on a rotation basis".
In his expert summary, Henry Widdowson, University of Vienna, talked about the basis for lifelong learning. “In reality, a foreign language learner does not have to use the language as a native speaker. The conditions should be set up to allow the learner to learn further for gradually approximating the level of native speakers. This needs a shift in focus from the competence of ‘a language’ to ´languaging´ and the awareness of how language works. Thus, ´languaging´ enables to exploit linguistic resources strategically and provides the basis for lifelong learning.”
After lively discussions on the key challenges facing language education today and on suitable areas for common action, the network unanimously agreed to further develop cooperation.
The ECML Executive Director, Waldemar Martyniuk, concluded the meeting by proposing that the Forum partners issue a common statement on key issues in language education, “the Graz Declaration on Language Education 2010.”
The Graz Declaration 2010 represents a summary of issues raised in the discussions, and provides the basis for the creation of, as well as for the activities to be undertaken by, this new network.
Hand in hand with the civil society- the Quadrilogue between the Council of Europe and INGOS
Resolution (2003)8 http://www.coe.int/t/ngo/Articles/Resolution_2003_8_en.asp
"Noting that the development and reinforcement of this co-operation between INGOs and the Committee of Ministers and its subsidiary bodies, as well as with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe has led to the "Quadrilogue" which is, within the Council of Europe, an expression of democratic pluralism and an essential element for the further development of a citizens' Europe; "
Minutes of the meeting
Multilingualism Policy Unit
Council of Europe:
Language Policy Division
CRM - the Charter
ECML - the Graz Centre
Documents formulating the position of the Council of Europe on language education policy: read here