Majhanovich, S. & Deyrich, M.C.
Language learning to support active social inclusion: Issues and challenges for lifelong learning.
Majhanovich, S. & Deyrich, M.C (2017). Language learning to support active social inclusion:
Issues and challenges for lifelong learning, International Review of Education 63 :435–452.
The European Union (EU) currently comprises 28 member countries with 24 ofﬁcial languages. However, there are actually many more minority language groups within various nations resulting in even greater diversity. The recent inﬂux of large numbers of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, most of whom are arriving without a working knowledge of any of the ofﬁcial European languages, further complicates the matter. Consequently, proﬁciency in one or more of the languages spoken in Europe, particularly the ofﬁcial languages, is a priority both in policies and practices. In this ethnically highly diverse context, it is important to foster social inclusion and active citizen participation if the European Union is to function democratically in a peaceful fashion, and be economically successful. Since language is related to access to democratic processes, a democratic language policy is essential (INCLUDE 2014). Indeed, over the past two and a half decades, several policies have been developed which relate to languages in the EU. These include the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (CoE 1992) and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU 2000), which in clause 3 (Equality) prohibits discrimination on the basis of (among other factors) linguistic diversity. Section 2 of the Treaty on European Union (EU 2012) deals with language rights and recommends that every European citizen should learn two languages in addition to their native language. Linguistic diversity in Europe is thus ofﬁcially recognised and laid down in the Treaty as follows: Respect for linguistic diversity is a fundamental value of the EU, as are respect for the person and openness towards other cultures (EU 2012).
Many other EU policies also include consideration of language issues. In an age strongly inﬂuenced by neo-liberalism, it is not surprising that a workable knowledge of languages, especially powerful languages of business, is also tied to economic advancement. Hence for some, language is not just a vehicle contributing to active democratic citizenship, but more importantly represents an asset in terms of human capital; this perspective holds that knowledge of certain languages will enhance possibilities of employability in the labour market.
Language education, social inclusion, linguistic diversity, policies
Other interesting information
The INCLUDE1 project was funded with support from the European Commission under the EU lifelong learning programme which ran from 2007 to 2013, supporting a range of exchanges, study visits and networking activities. Lifelong learning programmes were introduced by the European Parliament to ‘‘contribute through lifelong learning to the development of the Community as an advanced knowledgebased society, with sustainable economic development, more and better jobs and greater social cohesion’’ (EP 2006, p. 4). Founded by a partnership among six European organisations,2 the 36-month INCLUDE project was launched in 2013 and set out to build a network for the exchange and dissemination of common guidelines and good policy practices. The project was supported by the transversal programme ‘‘Languages, multilateral project Key activity 2’’,3 committed to the promotion of language learning and linguistic diversity by supporting the development of language policies. More speciﬁcally, it addressed priority 2.2.1: ‘‘Strengthening social inclusion, equal opportunities and equity in education, including the integration of migrants and Roma’’.
The INCLUDE project aimed to raise awareness and, through its network, foster sharing and joint action in the ﬁeld of linguistic policy for active inclusion purposes. This focus is in line with the European Council’s Resolution on a renewed European agenda for adult learning (EC 2011):
strengthening social inclusion and active participation in the community and society, and improving access to adult learning for migrants, Roma and disadvantaged groups, as well as learning provision for refugees and people seeking asylum, including host-country language learning, where appropriate (ibid., p. 5).
Interest for the project
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