Education and Languages, Language Policy

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Language(s) of Schooling

This text provides an explanation of the term ‘language(s) of schooling’ and a description of two of its key components ‘language as subject’ and ‘language in other subjects’. It stresses the importance of recognising the wide range of language uses a pupil will encounter in school and the need to build on the pupils’ individual language repertoire. This text provides an introduction to the ‘language as subject’ and languages in other subjects’ sections of the platform.

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Language and school subjects - Linguistic dimensions of knowledge building in school curricula                Related studies available in "Language(s) in other subjects on this Platform"

Whatever the subject, all knowledge building in the school context involves working with language. The purpose of this text is to suggest a general approach enabling different levels of specification of these language dimensions to be classed in transversal descriptive categories. The aim is to describe the process leading from units for analysis of actual uses to the identification of linguistic forms and mechanisms appropriate to those uses. It is aimed not only at the authors of curricula and textbooks and the designers of tests, but also at teachers, and especially teachers of subjects sometimes quite wrongly described as “non-linguistic”, to draw their attention to the language components of work in their subject. It is also relevant to teacher trainers, particularly those responsible for the teaching of disciplines other than languages taught as a subject. 

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Italian Version

Lingua e discipline scolastiche – Dimensioni linguistiche nella costruzione delle conoscenze nei curricoli

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A Framework of language competences across the curriculum
Language(s) in and for inclusive education in Northrhine-Westfalia (Germany)
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Concept Paper: The linguistic and educational integration of children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds

This Concept Paper aims to provide a point of entry to the project Languages in Education/Languages for Education (LE) from the perspective of the needs of children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds. Chapter 1 summarises the Council of Europe’s general policy regarding the linguistic integration of migrants, and introduces the concept of plurilingual and intercultural education, which is fundamental to the LE project. Within this multidimensional framework, Chapter 2 seeks to identify the policy and implementation challenges that confront member states. Chapter 3 explains how the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the European Language Portfolio have been adapted to support the language learning of migrant children and adolescents who are beginners in the language of schooling. Finally, Chapter 4 briefly introduces the different dimensions of educational and linguistic integration addressed by the studies and resources that complement this document.

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Contents (main chapters)
  • Introduction
  • 1. Council of Europe policy relating to children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds
  • 2. Providing for the linguistic integration and education of children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds
  • 3. Two Council of Europe tools
  • 4. Some studies and resources that support the integration of children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds within the perspective of plurilingual and intercultural education
Approach to specific needs of disadvantaged learners

This presentation was given during an intergovernmental conference organised by the Language Policy Division in Strasbourg (8-10 June 2009) on "Languages of schooling and the right to plurilingual and intercultural education"

Migrant pupils and formal mastery of the language of schooling: variations and representations

When migrant children and adolescents arrive in their host country knowing nothing of the language of schooling, they must simultaneously master conversational and academic varieties of the language. Second and third-generation migrants typically face a different challenge. They may be conversationally fluent in the language of schooling, but their mastery of literacy in the standard language can easily be impeded by the presence of deviant forms in their idiolect. Marie-Madeleine Bertucci’s study illuminates this problem with reference to the written French produced by such learners. The study has far-reaching implications for French as language of schooling and challenges linguists to carry out similar studies for other languages.

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Contents (extract)
  • Introduction
  • 1. Social norms and linguistic context
  • 2. Variability and systemic change
  • 3. Proposals
    • 3.1 Making allowance for the characteristics of the spoken language in language teaching
    • 3.2 Acquisition of the language of schooling: key objects of study
    • 3.3 Teaching of second languages and the development of plurilingualism
    • 3.4 Acquisition of the language of schooling: some avenues of investigation
Language diagnostics in multilingual settings with respect to continuous procedures as accompaniment of individualized learning and teaching.

This study provides an introduction to language diagnostics in multilingual educational settings, with particular reference to the needs of children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds. It summarises the objectives and functions of language diagnostics and the principles that govern diagnostics, including formative assessment, as an integral part of continuous language education that emphasises individualised teaching and learning. From a theoretical perspective diagnostic procedures in multilingual settings treat language learning as a socio-cultural activity.

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Contents (extract)
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Language diagnostics in linguistically and culturally diverse educational settings
  • 3. Examples of diagnostic tools and procedures
  • 4. Implementation strategies – some examples
  • Conclusion
  • References
Italian Version

La valutazione diagnostica delle competenze linguistiche in un contesto multilingue: un processo continuo che favorisce l'insegnamento e l'apprendimento individualizzato

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The Aims of Language Teaching and Learning

The Languages in and for Education project has at its centre a commitment to an integrated approach to language teaching and learning. This means that in a school context all teachers, whether of the language of schooling taught as subject, second/foreign languages or other curriculum subjects, have a vested interest in and a responsibility for the pupils’ development of language competence. This paper discusses the aims of language as subject and foreign language teaching, and considers aims as they relate to the teaching in/of minority languages and language in other subjects, stressing the need to identify common goals.

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Languages of schooling: focusing on vulnerable learners

In order to achieve educational success pupils from migrant backgrounds must be more than conversationally fluent in the language of schooling: they must also master the varieties of academic language that constitute the fabric of the different curriculum subjects. Because knowledge is virtually inseparable from the language that embodies it, the project “Languages in Education – Languages for Education” takes the view that all teachers must be language teachers in the sense that they are aware of the specific language demands of their subject(s). This study suggests some of the ways in which this challenge can be met.

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Languages in and for Education: a role for portfolio approaches?

The European Language Portfolio (ELP) was introduced as a concept in 1997 and formally launched in 2001. It has been taken up in almost thirty Council of Europe member states and 107 models had been accredited by the spring of 2010. The ELP is concerned with the learning and use of second and foreign languages (L2s), which is just one focus of the Languages in Education/Languages for Education (LE) project. But can the LE project benefit from the pedagogical experience that has accumulated over ten years of ELP implementation?

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Professional development for staff working in multilingual schools

Despite growing numbers of students with diverse language histories attending school across Europe, systematic and structured professional education to prepare teachers and educational managers for work in multilingual schools is still relatively rare. Both initial teacher education and professional development for mainstream teachers tend not to problematise the language of schooling, assuming that all students are fully fluent, competent users of the language, in and out of the classroom. Professional development needs to address this and other issues.

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Cooperation, management and networking: effective ways to promote the linguistic and educational integration of children and adolescents from migrant backgrounds

In contemporary schools, linguistic diversity is a common feature and should be the starting point for the educational activities of educators and teachers. Immigrant minority children usually live bi- or multilingual lives in the host country and bring a multitude of languages and language competences to their educational institutions. This study focuses on ways in which the linguistic integration of bi- and multilingual children and young people can be designed successfully through collaboration among pupils, parents, teachers and other educational experts as well as between schools and other institutions.

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Studies produced for Conferences on Languages of Schooling

Conference 2007 in Prague

The 2007 conference enabled work on the development of a common framework of reference, in the form of an electronic platform, to progress. The purpose of the framework is to help elaborate policies and practices capable of meeting the specific challenges of the language of schooling.

Conference 2006 in Strasbourg

The 2006 conference marked the begining of the languages of schooling project within the wider context of the "languages of education" concept. This was the first time the member states had been officially consulted in order to define future work.

Conference 2006 in Krakow

Individual studies are contained in the Final Report, of the Krakow Conference (pdf documents - available online at the website of Jagiellonian University - Poland) and are followed by 24 papers discussing the relationship between terms, concepts, notions, understandings and practices of the educational and academic fields in question.

Further Resources


This document is directly linked to educational policies in Luxembourg and the challenges of multilingual school practices for subject teachers. The vehicular languages are German and French with national regulations about language use in each class/ subject. The project presented here aims at enhancing teachers’ professional language skills as part of their general teaching proficiency as they have to cater for more and more linguistically diverse learners.

The proposed course targets young secondary teachers, at postgraduate level, who are requested to confront concepts of learning and theoretical models with their own experiences in the classroom. The selected key areas for professional development are awareness for language issues, key notions of language learning processes, concepts of subject literacies and discourse functions, interaction for learning, multilingual didactics, cultural contexts of learning as well as evaluation questions. For each area, a similar approach includes driving questions, key words, selected references, targeted teacher competences as well as a few suggestions for training activities.

The needs of teachers varying greatly, the areas for development are not equally relevant for all. The course leaves room for trainers' initiatives and puts emphasis on situated approaches to methodological issues. Classroom-based investigations and a reflective stance should improve practice. A reading list is added.


The objectives of this Framework for early second language learning* are aimed primarily at immigrant pre-school children, but are equally relevant to children whose mother tongue coincides with the language of schooling. Because there are a number of things that all pre-school children must be capable to do in the language of schooling before starting primary education to avoid falling behind very quickly. Therefore, the Framework contains minimum objectives defining what children should already be able to do with the language of schooling when entering primary education.

This document is a useful tool for teachers of pre-school children and their hierarchy in scrutinising their language teaching and establishing a language policy, for materials developers, for inspectors, for teaching assistants, teacher trainers, educationalists and those providing out-of-school courses and for test developers.

[*The second language referred to in this Framework is the language of schooling of the migrant’s children host country.]

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  • 1. Introduction
    • 1.1 Background to the project
    • 1.2 Project phases
    • 1.3 A framework of reference for L2 objectives
    • 1.4 Considerations on the fundamental
  • 2. Descriptors
    • 2.1 Parameters for the description of objectives
    • 2.2 Commentary on the list of objectives
  • 3. List of objectives
    • 3.1 Listening
    • 3.2 Speaking
    • 3.3 Reading
    • 3.4 Writing
  • 4. The link with teaching pratice: a pressure point analysis
  • 5. Conclusion

ISCED - International Standard Classification of Education, developed by UNESCO
0 = pre-primary education, 1 = primary education or first stage of basic education, 2 = lower secondary education or second stage of basic education (the subsidiary criteria for this level include entry after some 6 years of primary education; end of the cycle after 9 years from the beginning of primary education; end of compulsory education)

  • Nederlandse Taalunie

    The following descriptors were developed under the auspices of the Nederlandse Taalunie for ISCED Level 0 (please see the Framework of Reference for Early Second Language Acquisition - section above)
    List of Descriptors

    The objectives are described at three levels – macro (fields), meso (language acts/tasks) and micro (elements). Descriptors presented here at macro level are those for the field of school; "school" here means any situation occurring within the educational sphere and intended to stimulate the child's development.

  • Norway

    Descriptors from the curriculum for Basic Norwegian for language minorities (translated from Norwegian into English)
    ISCED 1

Norway: Currriculum for basic Norwegian for language minorities (translated from Norwegian into English)

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