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Expert in the Spotlight in March 2014: Katerina Zourou

Katerina Zourou is researching ICT-based education, with the emphasis on social network-based language learning and teaching. She advocates a sociocultural view of learning, so ICT-enhanced peer learning, collaboration and interaction are some of her favourite research topics. Recently she has been exploring these topics from the point of view of Open Education and Open Educational Resources (OER).

At Sør-Trøndelag University College, she is senior researcher at the Developing Excellence in Education and Learning (DEEL) Research Unit. Katerina is also the projectmanager of the LANGOER project, a 3-year network (January 2014-December 2016) supported within the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission.

Read more at the website of Mercator Research...

13 March 2016 - UNESCO Expert Meeting on Endangered Languages and Endangered Data

On Thursday 13 March, the National UNESCO Commission in The Hague organized an expert meeting with representative of several organizations who discussed the future of UNESCO’s Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.

 The first issue of this Atlas appeared in 1996 and since 2009 there has been a digital version which is edited by Christopher Moseley of the Foundation for Endangered Languages and a group of regional editors. Since 2012, the basic work on the Atlas has continued on a voluntary basis, but due to the lack of financial resources there are no possibilities to undertake the large scale improvements that have been foreseen.

On behalf of the Mercator Research Centre, Tjeerd de Graaf took part in the meeting. Other participants were Reinier Salverda (chairman), Vincent Wintermans (Netherlands National UNESCO Commission), Chris Moseley (Foundation for Endangered Languages), Sebastian Drude (Max Planck Institute Nijmegen), Frank Proschan, and Irmgarda Kasinkaite (State of Affairs of Language Programme, UNESCO Paris).

Visit the Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.

March 3, 2016 - Nienke Boomstra defended thesis on Mercator project 'More Languages, More Opportunities'

On Monday 3 March, Ph.D. candidate Nienke Boomstra of the Fryske Akademy and the University of Groningen, successfully defended her thesis and received her Ph.D. title in the Martini Church in the former Frisian university town of Franeker.

Her thesis ‘Read all about it!’ focused on the two-year intervention ‘More Languages, More Opportunities’ carried out by Mercator Research Centre, aiming at the bilingual (Papiamentu-Dutch) language development of Antillean toddlers.

Boomstra showed that Antillean mothers, with varying educational backgrounds, have views of their role in the language development of their child that hardly differ from that of a contrast group of highly educated Dutch mothers. Although the project’s intent was clearly bilingual, the Antillian mothers mainly communicated in Dutch with their child. At the same time, Boomstra ascertained that the bilingual project and the role of language coaches seem to have a positive effect on the interaction between mother and child.

Read the PhD thesis by Nienke Boomstra.

May 8, 9, 2016 - Report of the Second LEARNMe Workshop (Stockholm, 8-9 May 2014)

On Thursday the 8th and Friday the 9th of May the second workshop of the LEARNMe project took place in Stockholm, Sweden. The theme of the workshop was ‘revisiting, reanalysing and redefining research on linguistic diversity: education, policy and media’.

Several experts from all over Europa and even from Canada and South-Africa, gave a presentation. The second workshop addressed implementation and practices, drawing on the voices of practitioners in the field of education.

Presentations at the workshop

Among the experts was professor Jim Cummins, (Toronto, Canada) on educational policies and linguistic diversity. Professor Jim Cummins argued that, contrary to several hegemonic narratives, home use of a language other than school language is not a cause of underachievement. No relationship has been found between those two facts in Australia and Canada by research, he said. According to Professor Cummins, two major facts that have been neglected in policies explain academic underachievement: literacy engagement (amount and range of reading and writing, use of effective strategies for deep understanding of text, positive affect and identity investment in reading and writing) and identity affirmation. “In order to enable all students to succeed academically, they are crucial”, he argued.

Other experts who gave a presentation were professor Constant Leung (London, U.K), who underlined that currently all pupils, irrespective of their language background, participate in mainstream English-medium classes, following the national curriculum, since there is no funding for English as an additional second language. Jeroen Darquennes (Namur, Belgium) explored in his presentation “And what about the practical side of LPP” history, practices and alternative approaches to the concept of language policy and planning (LLP) and Siv Björklund (Vasa, Finland) presented a case study on language immersion in Finland.

The abstracts of these presentations, and other presentations given by Professor Christopher Stroud and Ph.D Caroline Kerfoot (Capetown, South Africa), Professor Tom Moring (Helsinki, Finland), Professor Csilla Bartha (Budapest, Hungary), Kaisa Syrjänen Schaal (Uppsala, Sweden), Lennart Rohdin (Stockholm, Sweden), Headmasters Markku Peura and Ina Sinisalo (Sweden), Guillem Pujades (Barcelona, Catalonia), Professor emeritus Juha Pentikaïnen (Lapland University, Finland) and Dr István Csernicskó (Kiev, Ukraine) can be found on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter.

We also intend to put the presentations online at our website

During the workshop video interviews were held with the experts. Experts told about best practices and about what linguistic diversity means according to them. Those videos will be used for the dissemination of the project and also be shown at the final conference in Budapest in 2015.

After this workshop a position paper will be produced, using the input of the first workshop.

The third LEARNMe Workshop will be in Barcelona in January 2015.

A study visit to a bilingual school in Stockholm

On Wednesday May 7th all partners of the LEARNMe project visited a bilingual school in Stockholm, the Sverigefinska skolan i Stockholm (Sweden-Finnish school of Stockholm). This school provides primary and lower secondary education and is one of the seven Sweden-Finnish schools in Sweden and the only bilingual school in Stockholm.

During the visit, headmaster Heli Lindström explained a lot about the Swedish school system and the position of bilingual education. The school follows the Swedish curriculum. The division of the use of the Swedish and Finnish language should be 50/50, but in reality, the Finnish language is used more in the lower classes and, going up in the education system, Swedish is used more.

The reason for this is that there is no Finnish or bilingual (Swedish-Finnish) upper secondary education in Sweden. Children leaving the Sweden-Finnish school must therefore be able to use the Swedish language at a high level.

Report by Ineke Rienks (Mercator Research Centre, Fryske Akademy)

A summary of the news for January 2014.

The Province of Fryslân asks for your advice on educational changes in the following decades

Position paper first LEARNMe Workshop Aberystwyth circulated

Report published on the use of Finnish and other languages in Swedish, Finnish and Nordic organisations/authorities


The Province of Fryslân asks for your advice on educational changes in the following decades

Education will change the following decades, due to several factors:

• Demographic changes in areas of rural decline and relative and absolute decrease of the number of young people, especially in rural and / or peripheral areas

• Merging and closing down of schools;

• Innovation and rejuvenation of educational knowledge, experiences, and applications;

• Empowering of people;

• Shift of focus from the school system to the individual child, with its specific needs and ambitions;

• Digitization, forming of e-communities and social media.

What are the consequences for education? And what is the effect on regional en lesser used languages: what are the threats and the opportunities? And – not in the least – in what way are societies and governments interacting in this field?

The province of Fryslân is aware of these changes and wonders: what could be our role in these matters? At the same time the province would like to know if and how these matters take place in your region. The province expects to learn from your experiences. So, please, feel invited to answer one or more of the following questions:

• Do you recognize the developments as described above?

• What specific factors play a role in your region?

• In what way are educational systems changing as a result of the developments in your region;

• In what way do these changes anticipate the developments in your region;

• How can the changes be described and what becomes of the position and meaning of the regional and lesser used languages in these changes?

• Please, feel invited to give your reaction. How? Give your reply to the Mercator newsletter or/and to Siem Akkerman:

Reply until when? Up until February 28th, 2014.

What is the follow up?
All replies will be gathered, put together digitally, and returned as a whole to all respondents. A summary of the replies will be included.
Depending on the results Mercator and the Province of Fryslân might use your input as a starting point for an international seminar on this topic. This will be considered in due time.

Please get in touch with Siem Akkerman, Province of Fryslân,, +31 6 5268 4437.


Position paper first LEARNMe Workshop Aberystwyth circulated

The Mercator Media Institute at Aberystwyth University, Wales, circulated within the network the first complete draft of the position paper based on the debate during LEARNMe Workshop in Aberystwyth on the 17th and 18th of October 2013.

The paper was produced on the basis of 11 discussion papers and PowerPoint presentations by the invited experts as well as over 50 000 words of transcriptions.

The open and interdisciplinary character of the workshop as well as interconnectedness of the issues discussed encouraged slight modification of the model initially accepted as the framework for the paper. Four of the five original themes were included. Section ‘Sociolinguistic practices in the fields of Education, Media and Policy’ showcases case studies of multidisciplinary research. ‘Methodological Issues’ section reflects on the limitations of multidimensional approach, the need to develop effective tools to investigate social network and the challenges of choosing and adapting a methodological framework suitable for the specificity and diversity of minority context. ‘Terminological Diversity and its consequences’ includes such sub-themes as micro and macro-oriented approach to terminology, importance of established labels in socio-political context, translanguaging and superdiversity, dependence of the concepts of language and minority on the context and perspective, minoritisation of languages vis á vis nation-state and English as lingua franca, and lack of terminological cohesion across different contexts, domains and methodological approaches. Finally ‘Socio-political approaches and ideological objectives’ section deals with the challenges faced by minority/indigenous communities in the process of identity building in the multilingual context.

Four further themes were added to represent the depth and diversity of the debate. ‘Language and media’ gives additional visibility to the leading focus point of the workshop. Here, the debate centres around the scarcity of evidence of how language and media work together, specific challenges faced by minority media, importance of targeting young audience, the role of social media, the potential of the new media-centred spaces of communication, and the issue of copyright. ‘Language diversity as a commodity – theories of value of linguistic diversity’ section draws on the discussion on the theoretical and practical value of linguistic diversity from three different perspectives: the EU policy objectives, translation studies and normative political theory. Section ‘Minority rights in universal human rights framework’ gives insight into re-conceptualisation of linguistic rights as universal human rights and individual and collective nature of minority/linguistic rights provisions. Finally, ‘Top – down and bottom – up approach to language management’ combines the remarks in the omnipresent debate on the most efficient model for the management of linguistic diversity. The final section of the paper presents the combined views of the participants on the task of revisiting, reanalysing and redefining research on linguistic diversity drawing on all the issues touched upon during the workshop.

The position paper will serve as a conceptual foundation for the second LEARNMe Workshop scheduled to take place in Stockholm in May.


Report published on the use of Finnish and other languages in Swedish, Finnish and Nordic organisations/authorities

During September 2013 a report from a research project on the use of Finnish and other languages in Swedish, Finnish and Nordic organisations/authorities, was published
at Mälardalen University, Centre for Finnish Studies. It also contained the evaluation and views of bilingual Sweden Finnish adolescents regarding their possible future use of Finnish
in working life and in private and public spheres. The writers are Jarmo Lainio, Marja-Terttu Tryggvason and Annaliina Gynne.

The report, which is written in Swedish, may be downloaded here.