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Language skills and inter- and multicultural competences: the most important benefits and challenges of cross-border vocational education

ECML project “Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education” (2020-2023)

Author: Catherine Seewald/22 June 2022/Categories: Show on front page, ECML programme 2020-2023, Enhancing language education in cross-border vocational education

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The analysis shows the extremely complex situation of languages in cross-border education. All participants strongly agreed that language skills and language learning in general are advantageous for professional success. The vast majority of participants also agreed that language proficiency in neighbouring language(s) is important to improve chances of finding work. Knowledge of the culture(s) was considered almost as important when cooperating with neighbouring countries. However, despite this acknowledgment, neighbouring languages are not always used equally. With regard to teaching programmes, participants stated that cross-border cooperation was included, but the majority was not satisfied with its implementation. Accordingly, language barriers still impede cross-border cooperation; language teaching and learning is not integrated sufficiently into the programmes. Another challenge seems to exist in the imbalance and different status that is connected to languages, e.g. one language may dominate another or language knowledge is not symmetrically developed on both sides of the border. The findings reveal that English is often preferred in language education, while neighbouring languages are of lesser importance. Thus, fostering language skills and inter- and multicultural competences are at the same time the most important benefits and challenges of cross-border vocational education programmes.

Claudia Polzin-Haumann, Sabine Ehrhart



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