EU Multilingualism, Intercultural Dialogue and Language Education

Co-funded by the European Commission, the Jean Monnet module EU Multilingualism, Intercultural Dialogue and Language Education aims to take EU language policies closer to students of Humanities, the general public and professionals in various fields (language teaching, translation, linguistic services, etc).

Multilingualism: A European added value

In the multilingual continent of Europe, of which the European Union (EU) is a part, most countries are historically founded on a one nation one language ideology. The equal status of all national languages as official languages within the EU has been repeatedly discussed since the founding treaties. As the EU continues to expand and integrate, European institutions and citizens face the multiple consequences of ever increasing multicultural and multilingual contact, both within and across the EU borders.

Rather than an obstacle, EU multilingualism is conceived of as a most relevant tool for the realisation of wider EU goals, such as bringing Europe closer to its citizens. EU language policies are in fact changing the life of its citizens, by improving communication and understanding among people from different linguistic and dialectal areas.

EU language policies are in fact part of a larger political agenda for bringing Europe closer to its citizens and strengthening a pan-European identity in harmony with national and regional identities.

Multilingualism and Intercultural Dialogue

Europe is an open continent. Constant interaction with other languages and cultures is an integral part of our history and of our future. Due to this openness and interaction, multiculturality is tightly woven into the fabric of the EU. The continuous flux of people and languages that characterizes our continent has changed every single European region, bringing people from very different cultural backgrounds together.

In a situation of growing cultural complexity, it is urgent to avoid the emergence of new, invisible borders within our societies by enhancing mutual understanding. This requires new approaches to intercultural dialogue, that take into consideration the various ways in which cultures relate to one another, awareness of cultural commonalities and shared goals, and the identification of the challenges to be met in reconciling cultural differences.

Multilingualism and Language Education

Within this context, one main aim of the Council of Europe is the promotion of linguistic diversity and language learning. Not only the official languages of the EU, but also regional, minority and inmigrant languages, are promoted within this language policy in order to expand plurilingualism, understood as the lifelong development of the individual’s plurilingual skills. Plurilingual education promotes not only the study of other languages, but also an awareness of how a language is learnt and a respect for the cultures embodied in languages.