Subject learning comprises much more than “simply” learning content, for it also comprises learning to use language in new ways in order to develop and express subject knowledge. The term ‘language(s) of schooling’, therefore, embraces two key components ‘language as subject’ and ‘language in other subjects’.
In some contexts, the languages in learners’ repertoires may be taught at school either as subjects in their own right or as the medium of instruction; there may be two languages of schooling, such as in bilingual systems. But for many learners in European classrooms today, their first language is not represented in the school system at all.
The diagram below represents graphically the Council of Europe’s view of languages and language education. At the top of the diagram, in the centre, stands the learner with his/her linguistic and cultural repertoire. She/he is the central protagonist and the starting point: all the rest is the work of the education system.
In this diagram the language of schooling sits at the heart of the school system, in a pivotal position owing to its decisive and defining role in the learner’s education and its cross-cutting dimension in teaching/learning processes.
Past and present ECML activities aim to sensitise teachers, teacher educators and other language professionals to the importance of supporting learners to develop competences in the languages of schooling for educational success.
Training and Consultancy
The study materials focus on teacher education for the
language of schooling (e.g. French in France, Polish in
Poland). They draw on the linguistic and cultural diversity in
the classroom for the benefit of all learners.
Available in English, French and German
Go to the publication page
Available in English and French
Go to the publication page
A pluriliteracies approach builds on CLIL approaches to help
learners become better meaning-makers, who can draw
on content knowledge to communicate successfully across
languages, disciplines and cultures. In this way it promotes
deep learning and helps develop responsible, global citizens.
Available in English and German (German coming soon)
The online questionnaire produced a total of 107 complete responses from 33 different countries, including 7 non-ECML member states. Nearly 20% of the respondents were teacher trainers, closely followed by academic researchers (18%). Most encouraging was to see that in addition to these two key ECML target groups, responses were received from parents, language teachers, teachers of non-linguistic subjects as well as head teachers. This is an endorsement of the ECML’s decision to focus this think tank not only on the language/s of schooling but specifically on whole-school approaches. Moreover, teacher respondents came from all sectors from pre-primary to upper secondary.
The moderation team and participants were selected.
Moderation team: Marisa Cavalli, ECML Consultant; Eli Moe, Norway and Gunther Abuja, Austria.
Participants: 17 in total: language experts from sixteen different European countries, three of whom were present in their capacity as representatives of International non-governmental organisations (ALTE – Association of Language Testers of Europe; FIPLV - Fédération Internationale des Professeurs de Langues Vivantes, EPA – European Parents Association), as well as a representative from the European Commission.
Think tank meeting 13/14th September 2016
The moderation team planned and coordinated the 2-day think tank meeting which took place at the ECML in Graz on 13/14th September 2016 and focused on the following four interrelated aspects of the language/s of schooling:
Participants were presented with key findings from the online questionnaire as well as an overview of existing Council of Europe resources.
You can download the Powerpoints from the think tank meeting here:
The meeting resulted in a list of recommendations for the ECML secretariat, which were combined into a concrete work-plan, subsequently adopted by the ECML Governing Board at its meeting on 12/13th October 2016.
Questionnaire key findings
ECML introductory presentation
ECML activities languages of schooling
Council of Europe resources
30.01.2018Lunchtime Conference "The future of education is in three languages! How do people acquire the languages they need for life and work?" (Brussels, 6 February 2018, 12:00-14:00)
In the recent Communication "Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture - The European Commission's contribution to the Leaders' meeting in Gothenburg, 17 November 2017", language learning has emerged as one of the European Commission's priorities. Over the last years, the Commission has worked together with the Member States to identify successful strategies for language learning in multilingual settings and to facilitate the sharing of good practices in the field.
A Lunchtime debate about how language learning should be promoted in schools will take place in Brussels on 6 February 2018, 12:00-14:00. The session will be opened by Kristina Cunningham (Multilingualism Policy, Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Commission), who will discuss the role of languages in the European Education Area. It will be followed by a presentation of two new reports that offer a comprehensive view on literacy and language learning and that take into account the challenges and opportunities facing schools and teachers, including the need to accommodate increasing linguistic diversity in the classrooms:
From the EC contract partner ECORYS, François Staring and Laurie Day will help present the reports. Three external experts, Dina Mehmedbegovic, Kristin Brogan and Deirdre Kirwan will be asked to comment and kick off the discussion. In the past years, Kristin and Deirdre have been involved in several projects, think tanks, training and consultancy initiatives and/or conferences of the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe.
The event is open to staff from other DGs of the European Commission and it will be web-streamed.
Find out more
Related ECML projects and thematic collection
29.01.2018Language learning pathways: The Think tank meeting (18-19 January 2018)
The Think tank meeting on 18-19 January 2018 resulted in a list of recommendations on how the ECML could support its member states in developing language learning pathways.
Check out the PowerPoint presentations of the meeting and further reading on the Think tank webpage.
16.01.2018A roadmap for schools to support the language(s) of schooling: Capitalising on the past … to build the future
The best way to help learners improve their knowledge of the languages of schooling is to develop a whole-school language strategy. This is the aim of the ECML project entitled "A roadmap for schools to support the language(s) of schooling". To develop such a strategy, it is essential to identify the language challenges specific to the school and to involve all stakeholders to agree on appropriate solutions. We therefore devoted the year 2017 to the development of a self-assessment tool, adaptable to the different needs of the learning community. Our aim for 2018 is to pilot this tool and to identify and share examples of promising practices and inspire schools to develop their own strategies and find ways to implement them.
The European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) attaches great importance to the development of competences in the languages of schooling and its 2012-2015 programme "Learning through Languages" has produced a wide range of resources in this field. Our objective is to highlight these - to capitalise on the past to build a better future. We invite you to explore the most relevant resources:
Moreover, in its current programme entitled "Languages at the heart of learning", other tools related to the languages of schooling are being developed. As we move forward with our project in 2018, we plan to create a website that will guide users to these tools and other related resources, building a bank of easily accessible materials.