- Minority languages
- Research & Projects
A summary of the news for December.
On the 2nd December 2009 the Mercator Network of Language Diversity Centres organised an Expert workshop on the topic of new and traditional media and information technology and how it can be used to strengthen linguistic diversity and support language learning. This workshop prepared a conference on that topic, which is going to take place 18th and 19th May in Aberystwyth / Wales. Directly after the workshop on the 3rd and 4th December the conference “Recognised” took place in Eskilstuna. The conference delivered insights into the multilingualism policies of the EU; the special situation in Sweden but also other European countries; and the role of media in providing minority language groups with their own language. This was organised in keynote presentations as well as inspiring panel presentations. The programme also dedicated time to networking and refreshing cultural diversion with “Club Minority” on Wednesday and Thursday night.
A summary of the news for November.
The Partnership for Diversity conference "The challenging relationship between transmission of cultures and transmission of languages" took place on Friday 30 October in Ljouwert/Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. During the conference a resolution has been drafted which has been approved by the Council of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages (EBLUL) during its annual meeting of 31 October. The resolution appeals the various European, national and regional authorities to develop and implement language planning according to European standards as laid down in the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the Framework Convention for the protection of national Minorities.
The PfD-conference was jointly organised by the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages (EBLUL), its Dutch member state committee and the Mercator Research Centre. More than 80 persons participated in this conference. Keynote speeches at the conference were presented by Karl-Heinz Lambertz (minister-president of the German speaking community in Belgium), Eduardo Ruiz Vieytez (researcher at the Deuso University in Basque Country), Siv Sandberg (researcher at the Vaasa University in Finland) and Bert Looper of the historic and literature centre Tresoar in Fryslân. Beside these speeches two sessions of in total six workshops were carried out. The Mercator Research Centre aims at presenting the proceedings of the conference in December. In the meanwhile an extensive report can be read at the homepage of EBLUL.
The conference was made possible by organisational and financial support from the Council of Europe, of the province of Fryslân and the municipality of Leeuwarden. In the eve of the conference the Mercator Research Centre supported the Council of Europe by providing the translation into Frisian and Dutch of their brochure on the European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages “Giving regional and minority languages a say”.
Download the resolution here.
The Mercator Network on Language Diversity Centres has joined a new civil society platform for the promotion of multilingualism. Its main objective is to promote a permanent dialogue between the European Commission and civil society on the different aspects of the multilingualism policy. The platform held its constitutive meeting in Brussels on 23th of October. Among the members of the platform are representatives from the education and culture sectors and the media and other civil society organisations such as the Club of Madrid and the Yuste Foundation. At the meeting 4 workgroups have been formed: Education, Linguistic Diversity and Social Cohesion, Literary Translation and Terminology, and Language Planning. The Mercator Network became chair of the Education Workgroup.
The Civil Society Platform to promote Multilingualism will be a forum for the exchange of best practices for the media, cultural organisations and those involved in non-formal and informal education. The aim will be to encourage public debate on how best to promote the wider use of different languages. Priority target groups of the platform's work are school dropouts, people in vocational education and training, senior citizens as well as immigrants. The platform will also develop proposals to be examined by national governments as part of their co-operation on multilingualism issues in the fields of education and training.
Business Platform for Multilingualism
On 22 September 2009 the Commission set up a similar thematic forum for businesses. The Business Platform for Multilingualism involves the business community, social partners, trade organisations, chambers of commerce, trade promotion organisations, schools and education authorities.
The importance of languages for social cohesion and overcoming barriers to integration is a theme that is being closely followed by the European Commission. Within the context of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009, the Commission has highlighted how language skills can contribute to foster social and individual wellbeing.
In oersjoch fan it nijs yn septimber 2009.
It Ljouwerter Stedshűs hie op de Europeeske Dei fan de Talen, op sneon 26 septimber, har doarren iepen foar it publyk. Der wienen yn it stedshűs dy deis ferskate aktiviteiten organisearre rűn it tema Europeeske Dei fan de Talen. De iepen dei bea oan ferskate organisaasjes de gelegenheid harren te presintearen, sa ek foar it Mercator Kennissintrum.
Yn meardere sealen fan it stedshűs toanden taalorganisaasjes sa as Afűk, Tresoar, Fryske Akademy, Mercator Kennissintrum, It Berie foar it Frysk, Europeesk Buro foar Lytse Talen, Frysk Ynternasjonaal Kontakt (FYK), de Ried fan de Fryske Beweging en it Konsultatyf Orgaan harren wurk. Ek wienen der ferskate optredens, sa as dy fan Basile Maneka Lukadi en Tsjębbe Hettinga, Hein Jaap Hilarides en de Reboud Boogie Bent, Chaoqun Yan, Shanoz Ahmadi, Carolien Hunneman, Debby Reyes en Attie Nijboer en Johan Veenstra fan de Stellingwarver Schrieversronte.
De Iepen Dei kin mei hast 500 besikers in sukses neamt wurde.
A summary of the news for July.
The yearly PfD conference takes place at the Mercator Research Centre, in Ljouwert / Leeuwarden in Fryslân (The Netherlands) on 30/31 October 2009. The conference’s aim is to bring together academic experts and representatives of local / regional authorities, in order to stress the mutual responsibility for a sound basis of research which gives guidance to a sound implementation of actions. The conference’s goal is to create an agenda of activities, which aim at preserving and fostering Europe’s regional minority languages (RMLs). Particularly welcomed are representatives of regional and local authorities, which bear responsibility for linguistic diversity.
Presentations and workshops will be held on (a) the role and responsibility of regional and local authorities towards the protection and promotion of RMLs and cultures, (b) in how far cultural and linguistic rights can preserve and promote RMLs and cultures, and (c) new trends in formal and informal transmission of cultures and languages.
More information on the PfD conference.
The municipality of Leeuwarden has granted the Mercator Research Centre subsidies for the Papiamentu – Dutch language developments project “More languages, more opportunities”. On March the 31st of 2009, the project plan for the improvement of bilingual language development of Antillean toddlers was submitted. At the end of June, the official allotment arrived at the Mercator Research Centre / Fryske Akademy. These subsidies will be used to finance the pilot project, which will run for six months in Ljouwert / Leeuwarden. During that period materials as books in Dutch and Papiamentu and an interactive website and the training for the languages coaches will be developed.
The actual start of the project will be in September of this year. Of course there will be a thorough evaluation during and after the pilot period, to examine the quality and appropriateness of the materials and training. This is necessary because there have been no comparable projects for the Antillean target group. After the evaluation the Mercator Research Centre will continue the project in Ljouwert / Leeuwarden and also want to start in other Dutch cities with an Antillean community. The duration of the project per location is two years.
The before mentioned financing (about €90.000) is mostly meant for the active part of the project. Besides this active part, there will also be a research part. The effects of the project will be tested here. Do more languages really offer more opportunities for the target group of this study? The research will be executed by the Mercator Research Centre.
A summary of the news for June.
For the preparation of a European Network of Teacher Training Institutes a group of teacher trainers met for the second time in Ljouwert / Leeuwarden. Goal of the meeting, organised by the Mercator Research Centre on 2 - 4 June 2009, was aiming at the strengthening of multilingual education. Participants from Estonia, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Sweden, Finland and Wales came together with their Frisian colleagues.
They visited a couple of primary schools and discussed the key elements for the future Network: improving the relationship of theory and practice; blended learning and the use of ict; content and language integrated learning (Clil); new research issues such as the testing of reading skills, the acquisition of mother-tongue and second language simultaneously and at an early age.
The Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning has recently published a new Regional dossier: the Latgalian language in education in Latvia. The dossier has been written by Heiko F. Marten, Ilga Šuplinska and Sanita Lazdiņa. The dossier on Latgalian is the 38th regional dossier that has been published. The new editor of the Regional dossiers series, Tjallien Kalsbeek, aims to publish about 10 dossiers this year. For instance Albanian in Italy, Serbian in Hungary and an update on Swedish in Finland.
The Regional dossier on Latgalian in Latvia was presented to the authors Heiko F. Marten, Ilga Šuplinska and Sanita Lazdiņa at the ICML conference in Estonia (May 28th), by the project coordinator of the Mercator Research Centre, Cor van der Meer.
You can find an overview of the Regional dossiers series here on the website of the Mercator Research Centre. Here you can also download dossiers or order printed versions.
A summary of the news for May.
The Ministry of Education, Universities and Research of the Basque Country and the Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning will organise an Expert Seminar on 4-5 June 2009 in Leeuwarden, capitol of Fryslân.
The theme of the Seminar is “Pedagogy and Didactics for Multilingual Education in Minority Language Regions”. Experts from around Europe will present and discuss the next topics:
1. Language Policies
a. How will the European multilingual society develop in the next decade?
b. Which kind of socio-functional compartmentalisation can be assigned on a stable basis to RML, State languages and Languages of Wider Communication
2. Educational Practice
c. New ways of teaching, including new media/ e-learning,
d. How can new technologies be incorporated in education?
For subscribing of further details and information about this seminar you can contact mr. Jan van der West or click here.
The Mercator Research Centre was invited by the Frisian provincial government to participate in a delegation to Chengdu in the province of Sichuan, China. Fryslân and the Sichuan province already have a friendship relation for more than 10 years. The visit took place from the 26th of April till the 2nd of May.
Reason for this visit was the outspoken interest of the University of Chengdu and the ABA Teacher College in multilingualism, minoritiy issues, multilingual education, research and the policy of the European Union and the Council of Europe in these fields. The activities of the Mercator Research Centre do fit well in this description and were presented during a workshop for a group of researchers, teachers and students.
Result of this visit was the signing of a letter of intent between the Teacher College and the Mercator Research Centre by the president of the College Prof. Mr. Ma Hongjiang and the vice-governor of the province of Fryslân Mr. S. Galema. Both institutes aim for cooperation in the areas of research in multilingualism, exchange of information, joint projects and publications and the development of an exchange programme for researchers and students.
A summary of the news for April.
Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning will organise a European Network of Teacher Training Institutes (ENTTI) meeting on 2-4 June 2009 in Leeuwarden, capitol of Fryslân.
Currently the network contains of a Welsh teacher training institute, several Basque teacher training institutes and two Frisian teacher training institutes. In June some new participants from Estonia, Sweden and Navarre will join the network. Mercator European Research Centre and the Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity (NPLD) are still busy finding new participants from regions with a minority language. The NPLD will cover all travel and accommodation costs of the new participants.
The topics which will be discussed are Integral Language learning, Dealing with varying linguistic backgrounds in the classroom and Student’s linguistic development.
The participants will also visit some primary schools in Fryslân: trilingual primary schools and other interesting schools. Main aim of the meeting is to exchange knowledge and experience and to prepare a future cooperation in a bigger project which will be submitted for EU funding.
For further details and information you can contact Ms. Sieta de Vries on the following email address: sdevries(a)fryske-akademy.nl.
The Conference ‘Multilingualism, Regional & Minority Languages: Paradigms for Languages of the Wider World’, held at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, is successfully concluded. The conference took place on the 16th and 17th of April 2009 and was organized by the SOAS - University College London and the Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning.
In the two-day conference attended by 200 participants, almost 60 papers have been presented and discussed in 15 parallel sessions. The aim of the conference was to put together different approaches in language transmission and language teaching, drawing from the experiences of Regional and Minority language groups and migrant groups. The use of new technologies in language teaching and the social costs and benefits of multilingualism were central to the conference as well. The keynote presentations of John Edwards (Canada), Viv Edwards (UK), Durk Gorter (Basque Country, Spain), Gerhard Bach (Germany) and Robert Bibeau (Canada) also dealt with the above mentioned themes.
The key issue of the conference was the interaction between researchers from two worlds – Regional and Minority languages and migrant community to bring together the world of languages. According to Cor van der Meer, project coordinator of the Mercator Research Centre the conference “has set a starting point from which these two worlds will find more common grounds and learn from each other”. Besides listening to a number of successful and less successful stories of language transmission and multilingual education, the participants had the opportunity to assist to the development of new paradigms to be applied in the context of minority groups. Concepts like the sustainability of linguistic diversity and the effect of glocalization on minority groups have been introduced and they will most probably appear in future research, too.
During the conference Professor John Edwards from the St. Francis Xavier University in Canada announced that a selection of the papers presented at the conference will be published in a special issue of the International Journal of Multilingual Education.
The Dutch government has decided to study the possibilities of devolving political power from the central government in The Hague to the provincial government of Fryslân, in particular with regard to the Frisian linguistic and cultural affairs.
In preparation of the political debate on these matters the provincial government of Fryslân requested the Mercator Research Centre to do a study on four bilingual and three trilingual regions in Europe where the central governments have devolved some of the political powers to the concerned regions. The Study on the Devolvement of Legislative Power & Provisions is a comparative analysis of eight EU regions with a Regional or Minority Language, including the Frisian region. Read more about this study.
A summary of the news for March.
For the Mercator research project ‘The added value of multilingualism and multilingual education’, two researchers who work on the project in San Sebastian have been in Leeuwarden/ Ljouwert from February 23 until March 3. The ‘added value-project’ is a comparative research project of the linguistic situation in the Basque Autonomous Community and in Fryslân.
The aim of the visit was twofold. First goal was a two day meeting with the project team based in Leeuwarden/Ljouwert about the project itself. Second goal was to get ‘hands on’ knowledge of the educational system en the position of language within education. For five days, all 4 researchers have visited different types of schools to observe some classes and see how schools, teachers and pupils/students use different languages. It was very informative to see the use of Dutch, Frisian and English within these schools in practice. At the end of March, the Frisian project team will visit some schools in the Basque country. After that, a comparative analysis will be made.
On Friday, 6 March, the EU funded Mercator Network of Language Diversity Centres had its kick-off meeting in Leeuwarden/Ljouwert. This network, the successor of the existing Mercator Network, has been extended with two new partners: the Research Institute of Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest and the Mälardalen University in Eskilstuna (Sweden).
The Mercator Network was awarded three year funding from the EU’s Lifelong Learning Program and will contribute to the connection of multilingual communities across Europe, promotion of knowledge sharing and facilitation of structured exchange of best practice and cutting edge initiatives through its program of activities.
The Mercator Network will keep its focus on regional and minority languages, but will explicitly extend its activities into the field of smaller state languages and immigrant languages alike, with a thematic approach from the perspective of Media, Legislation and Education.
Main activities will be three major conferences of which the first will be held in September 2009 in Leeuwarden/ Ljouwert with the theme: “Developments in the curriculum of language teaching and learning at primary and secondary school level”.
In 2010 a conference will be held in Aberystwyth on the innovation in the use of traditional and new media and information technology. This conference will be prepared on a workshop in Eskilstuna.
In 2011 a conference will be held in Barcelona on the developments in the setting of minimum standards for Regional and Minority Languages in education and the essential legal provisions and requirements for their implementation. This conference will be prepared on a workshop in Budapest.
Outcomes will be published in annual reports describing best practices and the state-of-the-art in the field of multilingualism.
Contact person is Verena Steinbrink: vsteinbrink(a)fryske-akademy.nl
A summary of the news for February.
Positivity is the basic thought of a new project of the Mercator Research Centre. This Antillean project in Leeuwarden started this January with a preparatory phase. In this project, on request of the municipality of Leeuwarden, the bilingual development (Papiamentu and Dutch) of Antillean toddlers (2-4 years) in Leeuwarden will be researched. More social variables, like identity development and bond between child and caretaker will also be researched. Positivity is the key word because most of the news about Antilleans in the Netherlands is negative, mostly concerning criminal activities of adults.
The bilingual development of the toddlers will be reinforced by offering books and other materials to the children, by either the mother, or the playgroup teacher. The books are based on the “Tomke”-series (www.tomke.nl), which was developed to reinforce the child’s Frisian language development. The other materials that will be offered are simple games and a special web space for the Papiamentu and Dutch version of “Tomke”, which corresponds with the content of the book. Leeuwarden will host the pilot project, which will start September 2009. After the pilot, the project will also be started in other cities in the Netherlands (Rotterdam, Dordrecht, Den Helder), and on several Antillean islands (Bonaire, Curacao). The duration of the project per location is two years. Goals are to ameliorate the language development both in Dutch and Papiamentu and to ameliorate the bond between child and caretaker. An overall better image of Antilleans in the Dutch society is also an important goal, albeit hard to achieve and measure. For more information you can contact Nienke Boomstra, research assistant.
The Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), brought on Wednesday 25 February a visit to the province of Fryslân in Ljouwert/Leeuwarden. During the visit Alex Riemersma, member of the Mercator Research Centre, has asked special attention for the report on Minimum Standards for Language Education in Regional or Minority Languages (2007). This report was drafted on request of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (CLRAE) of the Council of Europe. The report has been adopted by the CLRAE in 2007, and has contributed to a greater extent to the decision adopted at the 1044th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies of the Council of Europe on 10 December 2008.
In his contribution to the hearing of the Advisory Committee Alex Riemersma underlined some points from the Congress’ recommendation to the Ministers of the Council of Europe, to wit the importance of minimum key provisions in terms of time investment, quality of teachers and of teaching materials, as well as the importance of continuity of education from pre-school through to secondary education.
He furthermore stressed, that for most students the RML as a target language in education actually has the position and the function of second language acquisition (L2). It is in particular in this perspective of the in between position of RMLs in education that an adapted version of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) can be of great value for the improving of the quality as well as for the continuity of education in regional or minority languages.
At present, many sound recordings on old records, cassette tapes and other media still remain hidden in private archives and places where the quality of preservation is not guaranteed.
In 2008 Tjeerd de Graaf, research fellow at the Mercator Research Centre, finished a project, which has been financially supported by the Endangered Archives Programme of the British Library.
Within the framework of this project, a Russian-Dutch research group got access to several endangered sound collections, digitized and copied them on modern sound carriers, made a catalogue for the metadata available and published part of the material. In the collection the following languages are represented: Azerbaijan, Balochi, Chagatay, Chatror, Dari (Farsi-Kabuli), Enets, German, Kati, Kerek, Mendzon, Nenets, Nganasan, Parachi, Pashai, Pashto, Russian, Shugni, Tajik, Udeghe, Vaygali and Wakhi (Vakhan). The data in this digital sound archive provide information about the historical development of these languages and can be used for the purpose of language description, the study of folklore and ethnomusicology. This is in particular the case for many of the endangered minority languages. The information obtained will also be important for the development of teaching methods for representatives of the related ethnic groups and for the maintenance of their language and culture.
A new Mercator Network of Languages Diversity Centres started on the 5th January this year. The five partners are Mercator-Media / University of Wales in Aberystwyth, Mercator-Legislation / Ciemen in Barcelona, Mercator Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning / Fryske Akademy in Ljouwert/Leeuwarden, the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest and the Mälardalen University in Eskilstuna, Sweden.
Annual workshops and conferences will be held over the course of three years. The embraced topics will be “The use of new and traditional media and information technology to strengthen linguistic diversity and support language learning”, “Developments in the setting of minimum standards for Regional and Minority languages in education and the essential legal provisions and requirements for their implementation”, and “Developments in the curriculum of language teaching and learning, at primary school level and in secondary education”. Three annual reports will be published on the current state of academic research in the field of language diversity and language learning and an e-Newsletter will be send out twice a month. People interested in subscribing or contributing to the Newsletter are kindly invited to contact Verena Steinbrink, project officer.