Discussion Of The Minority Language Policy Education Essay

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European Union Language Policy (ELP) being implemented since the 1998 and all of the state in EU need to find their minority languages they want to preserve. Firstly, the researcher will define what EU language policy is all about and then will briefly discuss about the France education system and also Sweden education system. The discussion will continue with how EU language policy being practice in some other member countries and how the policy progress in current situation.

EU Language Policy are quite important for the EU as they claim on their official homepage 'Languages: Europe's assets'. Article I-8 of the European Constitution names as the Union's motto: 'United in diversity'. Promotion of linguistic diversity also listed among the Union's objectives in Article I-3. As we can see The European Union take the language issue as important one. The European Union tries to realize this aim in three respects which is firstly by maintaining 20 official languages (European Communities, 2006); secondly by propagating a policy of multilingualism where each European citizen should speak several languages and the ultimate objective of the European Union is that Europeans speak at least two foreign languages ('mother tongue-plus-two' policy) (European Communities, 2006). Third is by promoting and protecting minority or regional languages (Vlaeminck, 2003: 38).

According to Romedi Arquint, (2006) in his paper presentation for regional or minority languages and education problems in Europe, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages was based on some important pillars which is the languages are different from every place so that the same measurement cannot be use for all Europe. Secondly, the charter itself shows the centered on integration toward the Council of Europe and not exclusion, the third one is the charter is not the final one and can be change. So that the final say will come from the country. Forth is the role played in evaluating and monitoring must not be overlook and simultaneously discussion are needed between all of the member states and the EU bodies. In the charter also stated that among the main pillars in the charter is training and education. It is clear stated in the article 7, paragraph 1 explicitly concern training and education, i.e,:

"the provision of appropriate forms and means for the teaching and study of regional or minority languages at all appropriate stages" (Article 7, paragraph 1.f, as taken from Romedi Arquint, 2006, 19)

It proves that the EU Language Policy are used to educate the people in EU and the paper also discussing about the way the policy being implemented. The charter clearly said that the final say will come from the country, so there will be a problem while implementing it. But the problem arises when the policy of Europe is centered on Council of Europe. So between the member states and the centered body, usually will have some disagreement between them. For example the France will not allow any effort to take English as language of conduct in EU bodies in certain areas (Alexander Caviedes, 2003, 253, 254). So it proves that there is element of dominance in language usage between the member countries and the EU bodies (Council, Commission and Parliament). This is one of the obstacles in implementing the policy, if there is policy, none of the member countries can be excuse to disobey.

The paper also comes up with another difficult question in discussing about implementation of language policy which is the teacher. Even though in the modern world the people are using more technologies and mass media as their medium of communication and to get information, but the school still plays important role in developing the student way of thinking and it will still have influence toward the modern society. Here is where the role of teachers are important in implementing the policy indirectly. Hence, the educators need to get enough training in certain language in promoting them at the schools. The education divisions also need to plan new way of teaching minority languages not forgetting to train the teachers according to their respective field.

As the research shows, the European really pushes the people of EU to learn and preserve their local language. It brings wealth and prosperous economic integration. Not only the policy is good for the economy, it is also important to integration in the labour market, social cohesion and makes a major contribution to intercultural dialogue. Language is an integral part of our identity and the most direct expression of culture. It is through language that we socialize, that we express our thoughts, that we transmit our cultural heritage. Languages build bridges to other people and cultures (European Commissioner Leonard Orban, 2006).

In the EU institution stage, there are also some argument about choice of language used in the supranational stage, where France have made some move to develop a law or in other words to preserve the French in the institution level. Because of this reason also, the ELP was develop,

While France language policy were influenced by their nation state spirit from the 1789 France Revolution that makes French people more strong in protecting their language rights and hard for them to follow the EU language policy. The French people agree to maintain the nation state is by through assimilation of republic values and feel that 'Anglo-Saxon' Multiculturalism are racist and have it's own objectives. The value of France which is one language, one state, one culture and one concept makes them unite. There is no room for the particularism of other identities, whether for the regional or immigrant and certainly not for any language other than that which unites (D.E. Ager, 1996).

While according to Helot and Young (2005) the French language are on the first place among other languages, but recently under the political pressure from Europe institutions, other languages acquired some recognition. The research they conduct for three years result shows that the more different a language is, the more motivated the student to learn. Also language awareness as a model of language education enables all languages to be given the same status in the classroom (Helot and Young, 2005, 243). This is because; there are some strata between French language and other foreign language in the school, it shows how superior the French language in the school. But even though France has already complied with the EU language policy, but there still no recognition or any figure in curriculum and provision to immigrant languages, all of this remains ambiguous. The writer also did not agree with statement saying that because of the family is not fluent in French, they remain distant from the school. It is against their findings.

Sweden Minority Language Policy was created during 1997 to comply the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the protection of National Minorities languages. Sweden government then release a Government Bill titled Nationella minoriteter I Sverige (National Minorities in Sweden) (1998/99):143) and as an unified policy towards national minorities was proposed. The historical minority languages taken up were Finnish, Meankeili, Romani, Sami and Yiddish. The Swedish already taken initiatives to reinforce the learning of a second foreign language were taken before the European Council recommendation in 1995 stating that the school pupils should, as a rule, have the opportunity to learn two languages of the European Union in addition to their mother tongue. Plus, there are major changes introduced at the compulsory school and upper secondary school had a dramatic influence upon the language situation (Cabau-Lampa, 2007, 337). But disappointing results for the Sweden because in 2004/05, one third of upper secondary school pupils aged 20 were not entitled to enter a higher education institution, as they failed to obtain 90% of the points available in the subjects for the programme in which they enrolled (Cabau-Lampa, 2007, 342). It shows that the policy is being implemented successfully in Sweden but then the people cannot get the best benefit from it. But from the situation also, the blame cannot be put to the government or EU institutions because it might be the fault of the student them self. It may take sometimes to let the student get in flow of the system, then we can see the increase on the result.

All of the EU member states need to comply with the Copenhagen Criteria [1] which is respect for and protection of minority rights which included minority languages in every member countries. Existing member countries need to follow the criteria while the new candidate countries need to reform their own minority language policy. It shows how the EU serious in preserving the minority languages. EU tries to preserve all the different values to make (J-B. Adrey, 2005).

While according to Dawra, (2005) the EU language policy is a diversity kind of policy because it include many of the EU member countries. She also point out that the EU language policy are one of the EU values or identities. So that it is important for them to preserve the languages. The EU wants the member states unite in diversity which is to have the same language policy and in the same time promoting their minority languages. EU did not urge the member states government to take action from what they impose in the policy.

Minority language can be define as from definition given by European Bureau for Lesser used language (EBLUL, 1995:37):

"(…) a language which, as result of its structures, its sounds, its words, its characters and its history, differs and is distinguished from the dominant language of a state and is spoken and/or written within a certain territory, by a smaller number of persons."

The minority languages spoken within the European Union also can be classified as follows:

The national languages of two member states which are not official languages of the EU (i.e) irish and Letzeburgsch)

Languages of communities residing in a single member state (e.g Breton in France; Welsh in the United Kingdom

Languages of communities residing in two or more member states (e.g Basque in France/ Spain; Occitan in France/Italy/ Spain)

Languages of communities which are minority languages of other member states (e.g. German in Belgium; Swedish in Finland)

Non-territorial languages (e.g Roma, Yiddish) (Shuibhne, 2002: 52, according to EBLUL, 1996)

There are many obstacles regarding the implementation of the policy on some countries in EU like in context of German, the government trap between the requirement of the supranational institutions and their own national system. The implementation of necessary reforms within the educational sector is determined by the requirements and recommendations issued by the EU as well as by the specificity of the German education system. Increasingly, important decisions and measures cannot be made on the basis of national considerations only.

However, this supranational approach entails much discord, since the individual national education systems in the EU member states are not sufficiently standardized. Moreover, concerted efforts such as the European Framework of Languages add to the top-down pressures to innovate and internationalize education programs and curricula on all levels. One important prerequisite of the realization of viable educational policies on the European level is agreement on the status of English in the national education systems of the EU member states (Sing, 2007).

But not all the researcher sees the obstacles of implementation as bad result. According to Tender and Vihalemm (2009), the EU language policy are the tool use by the EU to promotes to the citizen to learn two more languages for the sake of their country economic growth. They also seem to make the EU language policy as advantage for the EU citizen for their own good. EU shows how serious they are in preserving the multilingual by appointing Leonard Orban as their commissioner field of Multilingualism. The author also shows that the EU have already plan a Framework Strategy for Multilingualism that used to promote citizen to learn two more additional languages. The author did not state that the policy is a failure, but then they try to see it from different point of view. They believe that the policy will run more efficient if it integrated with regional and economical policy. They also suggest the use of ICT solution in supporting the cultural and epistemic value of language. The author also believed that the Less Widely Used Language (LWUL) needs support from the European Institutions to maintain.

2.2 Conclusion

From the review of literature, it can be summarized that EU Language policy are important for the EU as a whole because it will also generate EU economic integration and also will make the people of EU more productive and creative. It will also make them easier to move around EU countries to work and not possible for them to learn other language which is not Europe language and travel to work all around the world. It will benefit their economical trade and also shows how rich the Europeans with cultural values. It could also promote their European values to the world which is "United in Diversity". From the literature also can be seen how the member states comply with the policy. Some of it accepted the policy without any problem while some of the countries need to change their state policy in order to comply with the EU policy. Like what we can see from the two countries, Sweden and France where came with different result in implementing the policy at their school, where one of it implemented successfully with good result from their student (France). But different result with another country (Sweden) where they implemented successfully even they have the idea of one mother tongue and two additional languages before the Council urge the countries to follow the Charter. But the result has not been good because many of the students cannot follow the learning system. More will be discuss in coming chapters.