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Languages of schooling

Language education is not limited to foreign language teaching but incorporates all aspects of schooling. This includes the majority school language, the home languages of students as well as language needed to learn each subject.

What do we mean by ‘languages of schooling’?

By exploring the languages of schooling researchers and educators take a holistic view of language in order to identify learners’ needs in specific areas. The diagram below illustrates these areas of language use.


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Platform of resources and references for plurilingual and intercultural education of the Council of Europe

The work of the ECML in the area of languages of schooling is part of a major initiative of the Council of Europe. The Platform of resources and references for plurilingual and intercultural education is ‘an instrument enabling member states to develop their programmes relating to languages of schooling and all language teaching’. It offers ‘an open and dynamic resource, with systems of definitions, points of reference, descriptions and descriptors, studies and good practices’. In the category ‘Language(s) of schooling’ various reference texts and resources are available to download.

How ECML projects contribute to languages of schooling

In the area of ‘Language as a subject,’ two projects Teaching the language of schooling in the context of diversity (Maledive) and Majority language in multilingual settings (Marille) have addressed the issue of how plurilingual education can have an impact on the teaching of the language of schooling. The projects explore ways in which plurilingual and intercultural approaches can contribute to enriching the appreciation of the national/regional language and literature and to the integration of all the learners in the class.

The development of whole school approaches is an important factor in promoting plurilingual education. The Think tank: Whole-school approaches to the language/s of schooling was devoted to this question and led to the setting up of the project A roadmap for schools to support the language(s) of schooling.

In the area of ‘Languages in other subjects,’ the project Language skills for successful subject learning (language descriptors) provides language descriptors for the subjects history/civics and mathematics. Pluriliteracies Teaching for Learning (PTL) shows teachers and materials developers ways of fostering deep learning by paying attention to the development of students‘ subject specific literacies as well as their conceptual understanding and automatization of subject-specific procedures.

Languages of schooling and other thematic areas

Plurilingual and intercultural education 

Developing  the languages of schooling is inextricably linked to plurilingual approaches. Key issues are how to develop learners’ plurilingual repertoire and intercultural competences and how to embed a plurilingual approach in the language of schooling curriculum and integrate it with other learning contents.

Content and language integrated learning (CLIL) 

The challenges of language teaching and content teaching are common to CLIL approaches and ‘language in other subjects’. Incorporating CLIL in a school curriculum needs to form part of a whole-school policy of languages of schooling.

Migrant education and employment

ECML projects in this area focus on how migrant learners' skills can be developed in the language of instruction as well their plurilingual competences.

Featured resources 

Teaching the language of schooling in the context of diversity

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Language skills for successful subject learning

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Current projects

A roadmap for schools to support the language(s) of schooling
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Developing language awareness in subject classes
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Learning environments where modern languages flourish
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Latest articles

02.10.2018
Learn more about language learning and the benefits of language diversity in education!

30.01.2018
Lunchtime 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)

29.01.2018
Language learning pathways: The Think tank meeting (18-19 January 2018)