Education and Languages, Language Policy




    The generous support of Norway for this project is gratefully acknowledged.



The Language Policy Unit in Strasbourg launched this activity with a view to promoting social cohesion in the follow-up to the 3rd Summit of Heads of State and Government (Warsaw, May 2005). It is concerned with the development of effective skills in the language(s) of instruction which are essential for successful learning across the whole curriculum.
This project deals with the language(s) of instruction in school which is most often the national or official language(s) and also the mother tongue of the majority of students; in a number of contexts this language is of course their second language where they have a different mother tongue. Within the wider concept of plurilingualism and respect for linguistic diversity, the project will also address the needs of these learners with regard to competence in the national/official language.

A preliminary survey was carried out in spring 2005 among member States to obtain an overview of the curricula used at national or regional level to teach the language as a subject and intergovernmental Conferences were organised in 2006, 2007 and 2009.


Possible contents and approaches to developing a ‘Common European Framework of Reference for the Languages of Education’ were examined with the assistance of an expert group. This objective evolved and it was decided to develop an interactive Platform, a format which facilitates consultation and ongoing development and expansion (see also below).
The aim was to elaborate an instrument to enhance coherence and transparency in reflection and decision making on policies and standards, at both national and at European level. It addresses aims, outcomes, contents, methods and approaches to evaluation of the language of schooling, taking into account the needs of all students in compulsory education, including disadvantaged learners and migrant children.
The project includes a focus on (i) the language as a school subject; (ii) the language as a medium of teaching and learning across the curriculum; (iii) possible convergences between the language(s) of school education and modern (‘foreign’) languages in a global or holistic approach to language education policy aimed at promoting coherence in the development of the learner’s plurilingual repertoire.

Documents and Resources

A series of 14 Preliminary studies had been prepared in 2006 in view of the first intergovernmental conference. They address specific issues such as the content and objectives of teaching the language(s) of schooling, the evaluation of competences, and six studies were devoted to policy issues and strategies related to the language needs of immigrant children and children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds for successful learning in all subjects in school.
Further studies and case studies were prepared in 2007 in view of the conference in Prague and are also available online. Studies developed in 2008 are now included in the new Platform.
A Progress Report was produced in 2008

A Platform of Ressources and References for plurilingual and intercultural education

was developed to enable member states to benefit from the experience and expertise of other member states in formulating their programmes relating to languages of schooling and all language teaching. It was launched during the 3rd Conference in Strasbourg, in June 2009 and contains major reference texts, studies, useful links to other projects etc.

2009 - Conference: Strasbourg, 8-10 June

The 3rd Intergovernmental Conference was organised by the Language Policy Division on “Languages of schooling and the right to plurilingual and intercultural education

  • Conference Report


2008: Progress Report

2007 - Conference: Prague, 8-10 November

An intergovernmental conference was held in Prague at the generous invitation of the Czech authorities: “Languages of schooling within a European framework for languages of education: learning, teaching, assessment”. This was a follow-up to the first conference held in October 2006 at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Concerned representatives from all member states who attended the first conference were invited to take part.

Field of Action
Working groups were established to identify the minimal language and communication standards which all learners are expected to attain at certain grades if they are to continue into the next years of education with potential for success. The grades chosen are: end of grade 2, grade 4/5 or the end of primary school, and end of compulsory education.

The areas which are concerned so far are language as subject; language as medium of instruction (history, maths, sciences); the role of languages in socialisation; identity formation and values; evaluation.

Curricula from a number of member states are being analysed and case studies are in preparation. The results from the different groups were reviewed by a coordination group and work is taken further by thematic groups.

2006 – 2 Conferences:

  • 1st Intergovernmental Conference: Languages of Schooling: towards a Framework for Europe, Strasbourg, Council of Europe, 16-18 October 2006
  • International Academic Conference: Towards a Common European Framework of Reference for Languages of School Education?, Kraków, Poland, 26 – 29 April 2006

2005 - Preliminary survey

Results of a preliminary survey carried out in 2005 among member States: