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LEARNMe Conference Budapest (17–19 September 2015): from European Commissioner to sign language teacher

On 18 and 19 September 2015 the final conference of the Mercator Network’s LEARNMe project took place in Budapest, Hungary. The event was hosted by the Research Centre for Multilingualism of the Research Institute for Linguistics (Hungarian Academy of Sciences). The two-day programme was built around the broad concept of linguistic diversity. Specific focuses were bottom-up approaches to research and education, learning and access to knowledge for members of linguistic minorities in Central-Europe and elsewhere.

Speakers at the conference came from a wide range of backgrounds. High-level policymakers such as European Commissioner Tibor Navracsic and Hungarian MEP Ádám Kósa were joined by renowned experts and educational practitioners from Hungary and many other European countries. Many attendants considered this diversity to be the defining aspect of the conference. The event provided a unique opportunity to hear in one event the positions of influential politicians, the more theoretical points of view of researchers, and the daily challenges teachers and school administrators face in a multilingual setting. 

Another very important novelty was the strong inclusion of sign language in the conference. The combination proved to be enriching and inspiring to both experts of spoken and sign languages. Many of the challenges speakers and teachers of lesser used spoken languages face are very recognizable to the Deaf, and vice versa. The conference organizers hope this combination will be a basis for future cooperation between speakers and researchers of both types of languages.

An extensive report of the conference, including transcripts of the opening speeches, and summaries of all presentations and workshops, can be found in the Conference Proceedings.

Proceedings of the LEARNMe Closing Conference : PDF (download)

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