European Union politicians debating European language education policy: Who supports the 1&2 policy?

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The European Union’s (EU) high regard for multilingualism and linguistic diversity is
expressed through its language education policy (LEP), a policy adopted by the European
Parliament, which represents all EU member states. However, as education falls within the
remit of the member states, EU LEP has an advisory function only. Support for the LEP at
national level is thus crucial. By analysing a significant parliamentary discussion by Members
of the European Parliament (MEPs), this article asks what evidence there is that MEPs
support the EU’s goals of learning the mother tongue plus two foreign languages (1+2),
and of learning a diversity of languages at school. Secondly, the article investigates current
evidence of the success of EU LEP in terms of developing dual language capacities, and of
maintaining diversity in language learning. Figures on the learning of two languages, on the
learning of English, and on linguistic diversity are compared, covering the last decade. The
results reveal that although the training of dual linguists has stagnated, no MEP expressed
concerns that the EU goals of 1+2 are not being met. MEPs are, however, concerned with
protecting ‘their’ national languages, and the smaller ‘their’ own language(s), the more
so. Furthermore, only representatives of large EU languages express concern over English
dominance in the EU’s education systems. Thus, parliamentary representatives of smaller
languages unite in solidarity for greater status recognition of their language, while MEPs’
support for the EU LEP goal of 1+2 is at best patchy. The article concludes that, given the
limited remit of EU LEP, discrepancies between European recommendations and national
practices are somewhat inevitable, and that to improve on the 1+2 goal and counter English
dominance across education systems in the EU, member states need to be better supported
to appreciate and disseminate the rationales for dual language learning (1+2) and diversity in
language learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-26
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal of Language Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2024

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© European Language Council/Conseil Européen pour les Langues. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the University’s Research Publications and Open Access policy.


  • language policy

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