Discussion Details

EPALE Discussion: Building inclusive linguistic diversity in Europe

Learning languages is a key not only for social inclusion, workforce mobility, but it also contributes to a cohesive, culturally enriched Europe. Take part in our next discussion to discuss the role of language learning in Europe today!

The linguistic diversity has always been a key characteristic of the European culture and life in general. It is essential to ensure that this diversity is an asset and not a threat to social cohesion. In this EPALE discussion we address the notion of linguistic diversity and social inclusion on the very special occasion that European Day of Languages celebrates its 20th anniversary and will look at what resources and developments are available to enhance cohesion via language learning.


The livestream panel is taking place on this page Monday 27 September from 10:00 CET to 10:45 CEST, and will be followed by a moderated written discussion. The livestream will be hosted by Tamás Harangozó, Editor at the European Basic Skills Network (EBSN), with Fernanda Minuz, Council of Europe Expert. 

The moderated discussion will unfold around the following perspectives:

  • How do you think foreign language learning promotes social inclusion?

  • In what ways was learning languages during Covid-19 affected?

  • Sharing good practices and resources for the linguistic integration of adults in Europe.

Let your voice heard!

Keep ready! We are launching an online voting for our participants via smartphones about the linguistic diversity of Europe and to share the results during the discussion and at the end of the event. The voting page is available at this link

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Thank you, a very interesting topic for discussion. I've enjoyed reading all of your comments.

I personally believe that wherever you are, you should put an effort into learning at least some basic phrases of the language that is spoken around you. Regardless of a culture, people tend to treat those who are trying to speak their language (even with mistakes - there is no shame in that) with respect and understanding.

Of course, it is much easier to learn a different language as a child. But it is essential to promote and offer foreign language courses in any educational institution, especially in Europe, where diversity is so immense.

Willingness to learn anything depends on an individual. When there is a want, then it surely can be achieved. Whether you attend classes online or in person, whether you are reading and listening to a foreign language on TV, radio or at work, you are learning it - at your own pace, in your own time. The more you surround yourself with various sources of this desired language, the faster you will acquire it. Same goes for literacy and any other life skill.


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... of the moderated phase of this written discussion. As previously planned, moderation ends at 4 pm CET. The discussion area, however, will continue open for a while and we welcome your comments.

Approximately at 4 pm CET we will publish the results of the online voting. If the results surprise you, tell us. :-) 

And we will always be especially thankful for links to interesting articles, research results, project outcomes or descriptions of examples of good practice regarding the issues we have discussed today.

Thank you for a rich and interesting discussion today! Do keep in touch!

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We have touched on quite a few perspectives so far, thank you for sharing your thoughts! I would be curious to read more about your reflections on one of our themes discussed in the livestream:

Does foreign language learning promote social inclusion or language learning is the result of inclusive social policies?

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I have a question about the question. :-) Do we mean "foreign language learning", as in learning the language of countries you do not live in - or second language learning for immigrants? If it is the latter, I think somebody has commented that inclusion promotes language learning and languane learning promotes inclusion. Just the type of positive circle we want to create!

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I agree with Heike.  Language acquisition is extremely important for all the community and we must remove the barriers to ensure social cohesion.

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During the Corona crisis, the only way to learn a foreign language was online.

I visited several courses online and wrote an article on EPALE about my experiences, the pros and cons. Unfortunately only in German. (But you can always use the "translation" button :-)   ). 


Sprachen lernen im Online-Kurs. Zeitgemäßes Lernen und andere Vorteile - Teil 2 | EPALE (europa.eu)


Especially learning by watching movies together was a very fruitful experience. 




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Varbūt šajā diskusijā par to jau runāja, tomēr gribu atzīmēt, cik svarīga ir neverbālā valoda - žesti, mīmika, intonācija utt. Daudz pārpratumu rodas, ja nezinām citas kultūras neverbālo valodu un gluži pretēji varam nodibināt perfektas attiecības to izmantojot .

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(Translation: Perhaps this has already been mentioned in this discussion, but I would like to point out the importance of non-verbal language - gestures, facial expressions, intonation, and so on. A lot of misunderstanding arises when we do not know the non-verbal language of another culture and on the contrary we can establish a perfect relationship using it.)

Indeed! That is a very important part of language and one that we often forget. Good intercultural communication depends on being aware of these differences. And to do so, we need to gather the support of speakers of the immigrant language who have already been integrated in the new society and understand the differences.

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You point out a very important issue, both in terms of language learning and of inclusion. My answer to your question would be: create MANY different types of offer, in cooperation with as many civic society associations as possible:

- Family learning groups, where parents having children in the same class can discuss school related issues

- Sports based groups 

- Handicraft- and arts based groups

- Coffee gatherings

- Cooking! Immigrant cuisine is something many "national" will find very interesting!

We need to make use of all our fantasy and creativity to find out what will interest both the national people and their immigrant neighbours. 


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So many people work in an environment where they could learn the language too, but due to the fact that all employees come from foreign countries, nothing happens. (Restaurants, construction sites). This could be a great opportunity too. Just as we have counsellors at work for health or safety, why not have someone offering micro- learnings of the language? 

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Absolutely! Thank you for reminding me of this!

In Norway there are several programs offering classroom-base support for workplace language learning. An example of an approach I really liked: 

When the learner meets a linguistic challenge at work, not understanding a comment from a colleague, for insrance, they ask the colleague to repeat the sentence while they film it with their mobile. This they take to class and the teacher explains, they practice a response and become comfortable with repeating the experience. When they go back to work, they practice it with the colleague. And videotape the next challenge. :-)


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... is indeed an important factor in any learning. But don't you think that adults who need to learn the language of the country they have emigrated to, are sufficiently motivated by the situation? 

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Not always. They simply psychologically are not ready to the situation they are in the country they have arrived. They have to feel the real need for the language. They are afraid of speaking in the foreign language - this is  as one obstacle in language  learning. They are afraid of being wrong.

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Yes, that is an important aspect. I guess that means it is even more important for teachers to create an atmosphere of trust and relax in the time they share with their learners. 

Regarding the motivation aspect, I guess this will depend on the extent to which immigrants can rely on being able to manage in the new society using their mother tongue exclusively. Sadly this is the case for many immigrant women living in what can be called ghettos... 

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I agree with you, Marios. The native speaker offers so much more than just language: a bridge to the culture, history and customs of a language/country. I am learning Italian right now and with learning it from an italian teacher, I learn about the values, the traditions, but also the little things like the most favored dishes and festivities. This makes me feel more at ease with my surroundings. I live in the italian speaking part of Switzerland. Still struggling..... 

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"... ma io vivo in una comune piccola". :-) I think it is the only mistake, but I am not an expert in Italian! I have heard it at home, though, because my paternal grandparents were Italian. :-) You'll learn it! Have you tried to find virtual chat rooms where you can practice?

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Yes, I found some, via Busuu, which is a online learning platform for free, very nice, and I learn Italian there and teach German(like tandem). Of course they always want you to sign up for money, but until now I could escape their luring!

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Almost there Heike! Very good :)

"Ho la giusta attitudine, però non ho molte opportunità perché i corsi sono solo in città, mentre io vivo in un comune piccolo...." this would make you a native-speaker ;)

Claudia (EPALE Moderator)

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I completely agree with Marios and Heike, but I would like to say that there are a lot of  good language teachers than know the methodology of teaching and know how to teach in multicultural environment. Of course it is important to create the cultural environment but methodology of teaching is of  great importance.

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Absolutely agree that interaction with native speakers has significantly positive effect on language learning as you learn it "by doing". Moreover, you immediately learn the correct pronunciation. And when you have learnt a language "subconsciously", then it is much easier to learn it thoroughly later on, e.g. the correct grammar. 

I know that children are especially good at learning any language just by playing or interacting with someone speaking other languages. And even just by watching cartoons. Shouldn't we expose children to different languages more often? My child's kindergarten had a babysitter who spoke to children just in English. I believe this experience ensured more effective learning than special English language courses for children.

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Yes, they learn languages very quickly - provided they are not exposed to too many at the same time. There is a lot of research done on this field. They learn in a very different way than adults, however. We often need to understand the basic rules of a language to be able to learn it well. Ungrammatical habits may be difficult to eradicate, and they may hinder communication.

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The languages that are part of Europe ensure better inclusion. However, it seems to me that the big problem of language inclusion is with migrants coming from non-European countries. Ensuring the inclusion of these migrants is also a problem because we are not sufficiently prepared in the recipient countries, we do not know their language, and the processes and documents in state institutions are not translated. How do you solve these problems in other countries?

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I guess no country is ever well enough prepared, and the problem you point out is indeed important. One way of solving is for each country to be aware of the fact that the immigrants that have already learnt the national language are a hugely useful asset to ensure the inclusion of newly arrived immigrants from the same linguistic origin. Being able to translate important information to the language of newly arrived immigrants will be a great help.

During the start of the current COVID crisis many European countries made sure that important health information was made available online in as many immigrant languages as was practically possible.

In terms of literacy + language, another important example is the publication of children literature in bilingual versions, one of them being the national language and the other an immigrant language. Parents are able to exercise their own literacy reading to the children in their own language, and they are able to practise the 2nd language they need to learn as well.

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Imigrant children learn quicker and more effectively the language,because schools pay more attention to inclusion of these children in education.Teachers are better prepared for teaching than adult educators. Besides that children communicate easier with each other than adults.

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Hi Tanja, here in Austria many official educational websites offer material in the most widely spoken foreign languagues, which in Austria includes Arabic and Dari. See for instance this language portal https://sprachportal.integrationsfonds.at/english/

or this overview on the Austrian educational system (in 20 languages):  https://www.bildungssystem.at/en/print-products/graphic-overview-of-the…

In language courses communication is in the target language from the beginning, so teachers do not necessarily need to know the original language (impossible in groups of learners from different countries). But is surely helps when teachers are bilingual and therefore serve as a role model (German as a learnable language :) ) - i.e. teachers of German with Arabic as a mother tongue. 

Kind regards, Eva

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Thank you for joining us! Here you can find some resources and links that were mentioned during the livestream:


EU Day of Languages You can find more information on the background of the European Day of Languages initiative and the resources of the campaign and its platform too via the links.

Policies for Languages

Please find the links to the policies that were mentioned in the discussion:

Common European Framework of Reference

Key competences for Lifelong Learning


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Since one of the main topics introduced in the streamed discussion related to Second Language Learning and Literacy, I wonder what you think about the extensive use of dubbing (instead of subtitles) on TV in many European countries.

Are you familiar with the work of Brij Khotari in India? His organizatoon, Planet read, has used subtitles and KARAOKE (!!!) to alphabetize millions in India.

More extensive use of subtitles would indeed help both the acquisition of foreign languages, the acquisition of the national language for immigrants AND literacy!

What do you think?

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Thank you for mentioning India's example - quite impressive to see such an effect of a simple thing. Moreover, subtitles are not only good to learn/improve language skills, but also for accessibility - in case someone has bad hearing, or just the environment is loud and it is difficult to hear, or maybe you just need to turn the sound low (e.g., when watching something while others sleep). The same applies to all online videos.

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In the nordic countries, where subtitles are almost always provided, the knowledge and use of English is much better than e.g. in Germany, where every foreign movie is translated.

I love the subtitles, even though my English is good, but sometimes with certain dialects it is better to see the written word. And it helps you to remember how it is written and thus improves your writing skills.

I think just as there should always be sign language in public events on TV, there should be subtitles. 

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