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First workshop

The aim of this workshop was to further define the general outcomes and goals of the Network’s activities, by preparing the first Mercator Network conference in September 2009.

In addition to the participating Network partners 8 experts in the field of language learning and minority languages took part. Friday night there was an introductory welcome session and opportunity for first informal networking. Saturday the workshop had a crisp start with a short explanation about the course of the day, which resulted into immediate action. The workshop’s method was to have three standing tables. At each table one question was discussed. The participants were split into three groups and circulated around the tables, discussing each question for 30 minutes.

The questions were:

  1. From your point of view, in which way does multilingual education contribute to social cohesion in a multicultural society?
  2. Do you think the integration of immigrant languages and RMLs into multilingual education contributes to the economic prosperity of a country as a whole?
  3. In what way does multilingual education contribute to the awareness of regional uniqueness / regional identity of both, inhabitants and newcomers?

Opinions and ideas that arose during these discussions were noted on flip charts. By the end of the discussion sessions these notes were organised into topics, which were then ranked according to the participants’ appreciation. This way the topics for the September conference were constituted. Also general ideas for future research, suggestions for papers and recommendations on speakers were made. These ideas, suggestions and recommendations will further be used for the Network’s activities and are already incorporated in the concept of the nearest conference of September 2009.

The topics considered most important for this coming conference were are visible in the call for abstracts:

  • The role of Multilingual Education in relation to the Multicultural Society
  • Promotion of a language outside formal education: “our language is cool” 
  • Involvement of immigrants in multilingual education
  • Economic and social value of learning of RML, immigrant and foreign languages
  • Developments in tri-lingual education
  • Continuity between school systems
  • Testing of language skills

Other tangible outcomes of the Network’s activities will be:

  1. The main outcome will be annual reports, which will be a direct result of the conferences and workshops
  2. A continuous communication via this website, the newsletter and twitter
  3. Policy recommendations at various levels: EU, State, Region
  4. Policy recommendations for various domains / perspectives