Discussion and Conclusions

While some countries and regions have highly developed policies and practices in specific domains, others need to develop further if they wish to align themselves more closely with European recommendations and create more language-rich societies. Of all the language domains researched, it is in primary and secondary education where most efforts are being made to promote multilingualism. Of all the non-national language varieties researched, immigrant languages are the least recognised, protected and/or promoted, in spite of affirmative action at the European level. The largest numbers of officially offered R/M languages in education emerge in South eastern and Central European countries. In Western Europe, Italy and France are the clearest exceptions to this general rule, as they offer a wide variety of languages. The concepts of 'regional' or 'minority' languages are not specified in the ECRML but immigrant languages are explicitly excluded from it. In Western European countries, immigrant languages are often more prominent than R/M languages but enjoy less recognition, protection and/or promotion.

Table 6 Multilingual spectrum of reported languages prioritised by 484 companies in four sectors (Top 20 of languages other than English outside the country or region of reference).


Total frequency of mention

Distribution of language frequencies in different countries (if more than 5 countries mentioned a language, only those countries with the 5 highest frequencies are shown)

1. German


Switzerland, Cantons of Geneva and Ticino only (57), Spaina (38) Bosnia &Herzegovina (33), Hungary/Lit-

huania/Netherlands (27)

2. Russian


Estonia (94), Ukraine (78), Lithuania (64), Greece (20),

Poland (15)

3. French


Switzerland, Cantons of Zürich and Ticino only (71), Spaina (47), UK (41), Netherlands (37), Portugal (33)

4. Spanish


Portugal (31), Switzerland (29), UK (28), Netherlands

(18), France (16)

5. Italian


Switzerland, Cantons Zürich and Geneva only (26), Austria (24), Bosnia (16), Spaina (15), UK (15)

6. Finnish


Estonia (59), Denmark (2), Lithuania (2), Netherlands/

Poland/UK (1)

7. Chinese


UK (34), Greece (9), Spaina (4), Netherlands (3),

Poland (2)

8. Polish


Netherlands (12), Ukraine (11), Lithuania (7), Austria

(6), UK (5)

9. Portuguese


Spaina (13), Switzerland (11), Netherlands (3), UK (3),

Austria/France (2)

10. Turkish


Bosnia & Herzgovina (13), Netherlands (6), Switzerland (4), Austria (3), Romania (2)

11. Arabic


UK (10), Portugal/Switzerland (4), Greece (3), Spaina (2)

12. Croatian


Austria (17), Hungary/Italy (3), Switzerland (2), Bosnia

& Herzegovina (1)

13. Czech


Austria (16), Hungary (6), Poland (3), Switzerland (1)

14. Hungarian


Austria (11), Poland (9), Romania (3)

15. Catalan


Spaina (18), UK (3), Poland (1)

16. Swedish


Estonia (12), Denmark (4), Lithuania/UK (2), Poland/

Spaina (1)

17. Japanese


UK (7), Poland (5), Italy (3), Netherlands (2), Greece/

Switzerland/Ukraine (1)

18. Latvian


Estonia/Lithuania (9), Denmark/UK (1)

19. Romanian


Austria (9), Greece (5), Hungary (3), Bulgaria (2)

20. Danish


Hungary (6), Lithuania (5), Estonia/Poland (3), UK (1)

a Frequencies from Spain: only the mentions in Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia were taken

into account.

Many EU and CoE documents underline the importance of early language learning. At the pre-primary level, 14 of the 24 countries or regions surveyed provide additional support in the national language for all children funded by the state. The Netherlands and Ukraine devote the most time to this. According to both the EU and CoE, all young European children should learn two languages in addition to the national language(s) of the country in which they reside. In primary education, apart from Italy and Ukraine, all countries and regions offer extra support for newcomers or minority groups in learning the national language. Apart from Wales, all countries and regions report foreign language provision in primary education. Denmark and Greece make two foreign languages compulsory, while 18 countries and regions have one compulsory foreign language. In England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, foreign languages are optional. In the countries surveyed English, French and German emerge as the most commonly taught foreign languages. In many cases, one of these languages is the compulsory subject to be studied by all pupils. Italian, Russian and Spanish are other languages offered either as compulsory or optional foreign languages.

Ultimately, the European Union and Council of Europe have the right policies for promoting linguistic diversity but most member states need to do much more to keep up with the recommendations.


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