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    Colloquium 2023

Colloquium 7 November 2023:
Regional and minority languages within a plurilingual context  
European Centre for Modern Languages, Graz, Austria

Europe’s cultural richness is reflected in the depth of its linguistic and cultural diversity. With over 200 indigenous languages in Europe, as well as many languages brought to the continent through immigration, many regional and minority languages (RMLs) find themselves in competition with Europe’s more dominant and economically powerful languages. When a language ceases to be used by all generations and in all aspects of life and instead becomes limited to certain age groups and/or certain domains of society – there is a danger that it enters a spiral of decline which can eventually lead to extinction.

The Council of Europe has a strong track record in the preservation and promotion of Europe’s languages, most notably through its legal instruments. 

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is designed to protect and promote regional and minority languages and to enable speakers to use them both in private and public life. Currently covering 79 languages, used by 204 national minorities or linguistic groups, it obliges states party to the Charter to actively promote the use of these languages in education, courts, administration, media, culture, economic and social life, and cross-border co-operation. Together with the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the Charter constitutes the Council of Europe's strong commitment to the protection of national minorities.

More than half of the member states of the European Union officially recognise regional or minority languages within their borders for legal or administrative purposes and it is estimated that there are over 50 million speakers of RMLs.

Within the context of its 2023 cooperation action with the European Commission, the European Centre for Modern Languages will organise a colloquium on 7th November 2023 focusing on Regional and minority languages within a plurilingual context. This stock-taking event will focus on educational practice in contexts where RMLs are prevalent. It will highlight examples of practice where regional and minority languages are part of the curriculum and/or a language of schooling - which are potentially transferable/adaptable to other contexts. The event will primarily address pedagogical aspects in relation to curricula, teacher education and classroom practice and look at the further support required by the professional community in this area.

The colloquium takes place against the backdrop of the 2022 Council of Europe Recommendation on the importance of plurilingual and intercultural education for democratic culture and will draw upon the Council’s wide expertise on RMLs. The event will take full account of the work already conducted both by the Council and the European Commission in this area, as well as the concerns expressed within the Minority Safepack initiative with regard to the sharing of good practice among European educational systems.

The colloquium will involve nominated representatives from the 38 member states of the ECML and the European Union, as well as key networks and associations active in this area.

Speakers and moderators

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The event will aim to achieve the following objectives:

  • strengthen awareness of the importance of regional and minority languages - promoting diversity at all levels;

  • take stock of current actions in this wide area and highlight examples of interesting educational practice which are potentially transferable/adaptable to other contexts;

  • promote cooperation and synergies where possible among stakeholders;

  • identify pedagogical needs of the RML professional community, with a view to developing further action at an international level in the form of a project and/or research on issues of key concern;

  • publish examples of practice as an output from the colloquium.

France and its languages: towards a shift in paradigm

Thierry Delobel

Powerpoint presentation

Implementation of the Romani plurilingual policy experimentation

Ágnes Antal Nyustin and Szabina Szabó Balázs

Powerpoint presentation

Promoting the Romansh language to different target groups

Annalisa Schaniel and Andreas Gabriel

Policy and innovative practice in teaching Walloon language

Romain Berger and Julien Noël 

Powerpoint presentation

Curriculum, examinations, and assessment for RML in Norway - challenges and solutions

Kim Buxton 

Powerpoint presentation

Presentation of the ECML publications and how they can be used

Gabija Kiaušaitė 

Powerpoint presentation

Innovative teaching practices to foster student motivation in the Basque and Friulian contexts

Ada Bier 

Powerpoint presentation

Minority education regulation in Slovenia with best practices from the bilingual area of Prekmurje

Darja Farič Klemenčič 

Powerpoint presentation

This initiative is carried out within the framework of a cooperation agreement between the European Centre for Modern Languages and the European Commission, entitled 
Innovative methodologies and assessment in language learning