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LEARNMe Workshops (2013-2015)

During the period 2013-2015, the Mercator Network, through the LEARNMe project (Language and Education Addressed through Research and Networking, Mercator) is hosting a series of three specialist international workshops (held in Aberystwyth, Stockholm and Barcelona), leading up to an international conference to be held in Budapest in 2015. The focus of these events will be to revisit, reanalyse and redefine the dynamic concept of linguistic diversity and its impact and relevance across the European Union.

Linguistic diversity has been repeatedly identified as a fundamental part of the cultural heritage of Europe. This is reflected to varying degrees in a number of strategic and political statements at regional and state levels as well as by the European Union and the Council of Europe.

The overall aim of the LEARNMe project is to identify and devise different strategic tools in order to support the processes of revisiting, reanalysing and redefining the conceptual formulation of the current linguistic arrangements, the ways in which they are understood and interpreted and the social and political responses to them. The special focus of the LEARNMe project lies specifically – though not exclusively – on the less widely spoken languages.

The LEARNMe project was launched with a kick-off meeting in Leeuwarden (NL) on 28-29 January 2013.

Working method

Three international expert workshops will be held: 16-18 October 2013 at Aberystwyth University (Wales), May 2014 at the University of Stockholm and January 2015 at CIEMEN, Barcelona. A number of specialist contributors will be invited to present a discussion paper exploring particular aspects of the workshop’s theme.

Workshop 1 in Aberystwyth (Wales, UK) on 17-18 Ocotober 2013: Revisiting, reanalysing and redefining research on linguistic diversity: media, education and policy.

Workshop 2 in Stockholm (Sweden) on 8-9 May 2014: Revisiting, reanalysing and redefining practice on linguistic diversity: education, policy and media.

Workshop 3 in Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) in April 2015: Revisiting, reanalysing and redefining legal aspects on linguistic diversity: policy, media and education.

The first workshop addressed the theoretical frameworks that underpin current research into linguistic diversity. The second workshop addressed implementation and practices, drawing on the voices of practitioners in the field of education. The third workshop will target policy-makers as its most important stakeholder constituency.  Each of the three workshops concludes in the production of position papers which will in turn form the basis of a white paper which will be presented at the final conference in 2015. This final conference, to be held in Budapest in September 2015 will be attended by academics, politicians, policy makers, practitioners, activists and other key stakeholders across the European Union.

Themes

1.      Policy and Practice: Top-down and bottom-up approaches to research, policy and practice; International Level; Nation-state/Country/Regional and Local levels;

2.      Terminological Diversity and its consequences; Terminology as an institutionalised field (e.g. language, dialect, vernacular, bi-/multilingualism, plurilingualism, translanguaging, second vs foreign language, multilingual competence, minority language, immigrant languages, lesser used language, state language, official language etc);

3.      Socio-political approaches and ideological objectives: e.g. assimilationist, additive/multicultural/segregated linguistic and cultural independence etc; identities

4.      Methodological Issues: e.g. Indigeneity and Research; “Languaging” and approaches to Linguistic Diversity; Permeable and impermeable language frameworks;

5.      Sociolinguistic practices in the fields of Education, Media (including social media) and Policy.

During the workshops Twitter and Facebook are used intensively. You can see mini-summaries of each presentation on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

Position papers

Each of the three workshops will conclude in the production of a position paper which will in turn form the basis of a white paper which will be presented at the final conference in 2015. This final conference, to be held in Budapest in September 2015 will be attended by academics, politicians, policy makers, practitioners, activists and other key stakeholders across the European Union.

So far, two position papers have been published. They were prepared by the Mercator institutes that organized the first and second workshops, Mercator Media in Aberystwyth (Wales) and Mercator Stockholm (Sweden). The third and last position paper is currently in the editing phase and is expected by the end of June 2015.