Day 1, Thursday 5 December
Day 1 took place at the prestigious Meerscheinschlössl. Through keynote speeches, panel discussions and interactive presentations, the role of quality language education in fostering a culture of democracy was addressed - why it matters and what it looks like. There was a discussion of key policy developments such as the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation on protecting and promoting sign languages in Europe and the Council of the European Union’s Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages, as well as consideration of the ECML’s role as the interface between policy, research, teacher education and practice.
Day 2, Friday 6 December
On day 2 at the ECML, particpants actively engaged in discussions organised broadly around the ECML’s nine thematic areas with the presentation of key outputs from the current ECML programme, together with insights from the Centre’s range of Training and Consultancy activities. Four parallel sessions gave participants the opportunity to cover a number of key themes. The day was topped and tailed with plenary sessions on dissemination, adaption and impact, drawing on successful examples from ECML member states.
A Conference Declaration with the dual aims of highlighting the key contribution of quality language education to democratic societies and acknowledging the challenges that need to be addressed was discussed at the conference, with a final version to be issued in early 2020. As such the Declaration could pave the way for a Council of Europe Recommendation on Quality Language Education.
The conference closed on a very personal note: the ECML’s long-standing expert consultant, Frank Heyworth, who has been closely involved with the Centre since its inception, recounted his story of how the ECML has evolved and what his engagement has meant to him. He also shared a few of his pearls of wisdom regarding future directions for language policy and practice at the ECML and the wider Council of Europe.