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3.3 National Language Support in Pre-Primary Education

Needs-based pre-primary education in the national language is not provided in Italy and Catalonia. The case of Catalonia is quite special because here the emphasis is on Catalan, which is the most common language of communication among Catalan people, but its official position is a regional language in Spain. The language of instruction in pre-primary schools in Catalonia is commonly Catalan. In Bosnia, Greece, Poland, Estonia, France, Hungary and Portugal pre-school education in the national language is not absent but it is not practiced widely. While Switzerland takes an intermediary position, Austria, Basque Country, England, Romania and Wales offer significant provisions in pre-primary education (Table 4).

Table 4 Support given in the teaching and learning of national language in pre-primary

schools

Country/Region

National language (%)

Austria

94

Romania

94

Basque Country

94

England

94

Wales

94

Bulgaria

88

Lithuania

88

Friesland

88

Ukraine

88

Spain

86

Denmark

82

Netherlands

82

Switzerland

57

France

24

Hungary

24

Portugal

24

Estonia

18

Bosnia and Herzegovina

12

Greece

12

Poland

12

Italy

n.a

Cataloniaa

n.a

a Catalonia is part of Spain and the national language is Spanish but Catalan is the regional language which is the sole medium of communication in pre-schools in Catalonia.

Countries are presented in a descending order of their average scores.

The Differences Between Policy and Practice of Multilingualism …

3.4 Overall Measures Promoting Linguistic Diversity in Education

Primary education is the beginning of literacy education for all children and it is a crucial stage in the schooling career of pupils. International agencies such as UNESCO, the EU and CoE highlight the importance of mother tongue education. International agencies concerned with early education, children's rights, and linguistic diversity argue strongly in favour of using a child's home language as the medium of instruction, at least in the early years of formal schooling (Ball 2011). However, given the rich linguistic diversity in some European schools, this is not always easy to arrange. In many cases, education is provided only in the national language, while foreign, R/M, and immigrant languages receive (very) little attention. Nevertheless, in line with EU and CoE pleas for multilingualism, many countries provide opportunities and facilities for children from diverse linguistic backgrounds. This linguistic diversity and its challenges are recognized by the EC (2008), which reports that the EU now has almost 500 million citizens, 27 member states, 3 alphabets, 23 official national languages, some 60 R/M languages, and many immigrant languages.

The EC highlights the benefits of this linguistic diversity, but at the same time warns policy makers that without adequate policies, this diversity might present challenges. It can widen the communication gap between people of different cultures and increase social divisions, giving the multilingual access to better living and working opportunities while excluding the monolingual. The EC underlines the importance of adequate policies for effective management of diversity in the classrooms. In line with EU and CoE recommendations, most LRE countries try their best to prepare their young generations for a multilingual Europe. Language classes are offered in a number of 'popular' foreign languages such as English, French, German, Spanish and Russian. Most countries also organize classes in R/M. Classes in immigrant languages are offered only in a limited number of countries.

Table 5 presents an overview of the scores for various aspects of linguistic diversity in pre-primary, primaryand secondary-schools. In line with the relevant indicators identified for organizing language education and teacher related factors, countries and regions obtained scores in which variables such as a coherent curriculum, standardised tests, diagnostic language proficiency assessment tools or practice of teaching the national language as a second language for newcomers are covered.

As seen from Table 5, Basque Country, Austria and Spain emerge as the top countries regarding the measures taken to facilitate linguistic diversity in various types of schools. Countries like Italy, Estonia, Northern Ireland, Poland and Greece

Table 5 Overall scores for linguistic diversity in pre-primary (PPE), primary (PE) and secondary education (SE) (in %)

Country/Region

PPE

PE

SE

Average

Basque country

67

67

71

68

Austria

44

66

63

58

Spain

68

59

44

57

Denmark

54

61

52

56

Lithuania

43

62

62

56

Netherlands

40

48

79

56

Romania

48

59

60

56

Ukraine

53

57

58

56

Catalonia

26

63

74

54

Hungary

49

49

63

54

Scotland

46

52

58

52

Bulgaria

41

54

58

51

Friesland

40

50

61

50

Portugal

26

56

61

48

Bosnia & Herzegovina

22

58

60

47

Switzerland

20

44

74

46

Wales

44

37

58

46

France

7

63

64

45

England

20

37

59

39

Italy

24

41

48

38

Estonia

19

39

51

36

Northern Ireland

3

50

54

36

Poland

3

48

38

30

Greece

5

53

29

29

Countries are presented in a descending order of their average scores.

emerge as the countries providing the least support for linguistic diversity. Catalonia's average score would have been much higher if their pre-primary score were not conspicuously low. The fact that Catalonia puts primary emphasis on the learning of Catalan language lowers the attention given to other languages.

3.5 Transnationalism

The focus of the conference was on transnationalism. The database of Language Rich Europe provides concrete evidence with respect to widespread transnationalism among the companies that took part in our research. In practice, transnationalism refers to increasing trans-border relations of individuals, groups, and firms, and to mobilizations beyond state boundaries. Individuals, groups, institutions and states interact with each other in a new global space where cultural and political characteristics of national societies are combined with emerging multilevel and multinational activities. Derived from the use of different languages in 484 companies, Table 6 presents concrete evidence on the extent of transnationalism.

German, Russian, French, Spanish and Italian emerge as the most commonly used languages by the companies surveyed. From a close inspection of Table 6, it becomes clear that some languages, such as German and Japanese, are used by a variety of companies in a variety of countries. On the other hand, some languages, such as Russian and Finnish, are used only in neighbouring countries. The fact that most companies in Estonia make some use of Finnish puts it high on the list. Nevertheless, the distribution of these languages across the countries provides a broader perspective on the use and spread of these business languages used by some European companies. Chinese, Turkish, Arabic, and Japanese are valued by some companies in Europe although perhaps higher prioritisation of these might be expected. More in-depth research will be required to gain further insights into the reasons behind the choice of languages by companies, and the results need to be compared with similar studies in these and other sectors to see what patterns emerge. Nevertheless, based on the Language Rich Europe database, it is clear that transnationalism is a distinguishing characteristic of many European companies.

 
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