New Multilingual Synopsis of the European Training Thesaurus

We have just heard about this exciting new tool for training professionals and wanted to share it with you. This article originally appeared in Europa news on languages.

New Multilingual Synopsis of the European Training Thesaurus – Are you a training professional? A new multilingual toolkit for you.

The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) has recently published the new Multilingual Synopsis of the European Training Thesaurus for all those working in education, training and employment.

The publication, which is available online, is a selection of 1,207 terms and concepts which appear frequently in literature related to European vocational education and training. The tool, which is the basis for the complete online thesaurus CEDEFOP is currently preparing, allows for quick navigation by language, term and topic.

The terms/concepts cover several topics such as lifelong learning, vocational education and training policy, assessment and certification of learning outcomes, recognition of certificates and diplomas. Each term is presented in 11 languages: Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Swedish.

To download the thesaurus, click here.

l’Italia è davvero un paese multilingue?

The text below (in Italian) discusses the question whether Italy is truly a multilingual country. This, and other interesting discussions took place during the launch of our project in Rome on 8 June 2012 and is written by Monica Barni, Professor in Didactics of modern languages, Università per Stranieri di Siena (University for foreigners in Siena) and Italian partner of Language Rich Europe project. 

Si è svolto oggi a Roma presso la sede del Goethe Institut il lancio italiano del progetto Language Rich Europe. Al  lancio hanno partecipato rappresentati delle Istituzioni, studiosi e molti studenti di lingue. Alla domanda posta dagli organizzatori: “l’Italia è davvero un paese multilingue?”, la risposta sì, l’Italia è un paese multilingue, ma privo della consapevolezza di tale identità e della consapevolezza dell’importanza degli lingue degli altri.

La ricerca ha messo in luce come la “questione delle lingue” in Italia non sia risolta, ma si evidenzi la tensione fra i poli del monolingui suo ricercato – l’italiano come lingua degli italiani – e il multilinguismo da sempre presente nella penisola, grazie alla presenza dei dialetti e delle lingue di antica minoranza, e rinnovato oggi dalle nuove, molte lingue portate dagli immigrati.  E si vede rinnovato dalla politica linguistica europea, che vuole i cittdini del Vecchio Continente almeno trilingui per poter rispondere alle sfide del mondo globale, del mondo delle illimitate possibilita’ di contatto, di incontro, di scambio di persone, lingue e percio’ di culture, oltre che di merci. Gli italiani, e la politica linguistica italiana, non vedono le lingue degli altri, le apprendono poco, e le conoscono poco. A livello scolastico l’offerta di lingue è, in pratica, limitata alla sola lingua inglese – con l’unica eccezione delle scuole secondarie di I grado, ponendoci al di sotto della media europea; gli insegnanti non ricevono una formazione specifica per insegnare  le lingue e non vengono incoraggiati a trascorrere periodi di studio nel Paese in cui si parla la lingua che insegnano. Tutti questi fattori sono inscindibilmente legati alla carenza di competenza nelle lingue straniere da parte degli italiani, come mettono in luce altre indagini svolte a livello europeo.
Da questa carenza di lingue straniere, di sensibilità e di attenzione verso le lingue degli altri derivano conseguenze negative per la capacita’ di internazionalizzazione del nostro sistema produttivo.

Today’s launch: Italy

Italy

Did you know that…

“At the present time Italian is used as the main language by around 90% of the Italian population, also as the spoken language (ISTAT, 2007). This is a radical change to the centuries old idiomatic Italian tradition, characterised by a prevalence of local languages to Italian. Before the Unification of Italy (1861), Italian was the language used for centuries as the literary language, and it was only spoken in the Florentine-Tuscan and Roman areas (De Mauro, 1963, 1979, 1994).

Despite the general diffusion of standard Italian, used by the vast majority of Italian society,Italystill presents a linguistic identity characterised by a wide range of dialects, varieties and registers, which places it among the countries which even today present a relatively high index of linguistic diversity.

To this complex panorama, a new factor has been added in recent years: the immigration of people from some of the poorest countries. Foreigners inItalytoday total more than 5,000,000 – one immigrant for every 12 residents (Caritas, 2011). A census regarding immigrant languages does not currently exist, but research carried out in various areas ofItalyestimate that approximately 200 new languages are present in the country (Bagna, Barni, Vedovelli, 2006; Barni, 2008).”

The Italy launch will take place on 8 June 2012 in the auditorium of the Goethe-Institut in Rome. The speakers of this launch event are:

  • Susanne Hohn, Direttore, Goethe-Institut Italia
  • Coordina Silvia Minardi, Presidente nazionale di LEND e Presidente del REAL
  • Christine Melia, Direttore, British Council Italia              
  • Diana Saccardo, Dirigente Scolastico Comandato, Direzione Generale per gli Affari Internazionali del Ministero dell’ Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca
  • Massimo Vedovelli, Rettore, Università per Stranieri di Siena e, Membro della Conferenza dei Rettori delle Università italiane
  • Keynote Speech: Video intervention by Tullio De Mauro, Professore Emerito, Università “La Sapienza”,   Roma
  • Keynote Speech: Giancarlo Zucchetto, Capo dell’unità italiana, DG Interpretazione e Conferenze, Parlamento Europeo
  • Keynote Speech: Antonella Sorace, Professoressa in Linguistica dello Sviluppo, Università di Edimburgo e, Direttore “Bilingualism Matters”

Presentazione dell’Indice Language Rich Europe e i risultati italiani nel contesto europeo:

  • Martin Hope, Direttore, British Council Benelux e UE
  • Eilidh MacDonald, Project Co-ordinator Language Rich Europe, British Council Berlin
  • Monica Barni, Professoressa in Didattica delle lingue moderne, Università per Stranieri di Siena e partner italiano del progetto Language Rich Europe

After the presentations, there will be time for discussion.

Per ulteriori informazioni in italiano si consiglia di consultare il sito web di British Council Italia.

Language Rich Europe: English as a hob-goblin

Following our successful first launch in Bern, Switzerland on 23 May 2012, Caroline Morrissey, Director British Council Switzerland, has written an article discussing both the launch and the Swiss language situation in general. Please read on to find out more.

Anything to do with language policy in Switzerland, a country with four national languages, is always going to be political. So, with the British Council being seen to take the lead, and with the UK’s reputation in this country for not teaching and learning foreign languages well in its schools, we had to tread carefully. At the Language Rich launch in 2010, we spoke not one word of English but ran the event in French and German throughout – and got some great feedback for taking Swiss national languages seriously – as well as managing to avoid criticism about English imperialism. For us in Switzerland, it is important to make a clear distinction between this programme, which is about multilingualism and the work we do in promoting English. English is hugely important in Switzerland, but is also seen as a threat to Swiss cohesion.

There is a common perception that Switzerland is a multilingual nation. Reality can be quite different, with the four language areas existing well side by side (and mostly ignoring one another) and with little cross-border integration. The push for English, to the detriment of French in German-speaking cantons and German in French-speaking cantons, is seen as a real threat to unity and to cultural diversity.

So when the time came round last week to launch the results, we decided to do it multilingually. We did not have simultaneous translation as most of the audience would have a passive understanding of at least one other national language, even if they did not want to speak it. The event was hosted by the Italian Department of the University of Bern, we had presentations in German, accompanied by French language PowerPoint slides (and vice-versa), an introduction by one of our speakers in Rumantsch and our very own Martin Hope doing his presentation in French and Italian.

So, what were the highlights?

We managed to get some really top level speakers, including the President of the Swiss Social Democrat party, National Councillor Christian Levrat (French-speaker from a bilingual canton) and a representative of Rumantsch TV, fluent in all four Swiss national languages.

The debate was lively with questions around:

  • the media (how to integrate representatives from all Swiss language groups in live national TV debates for example, plus an accusation that the Swiss media is too heavily biased towards German);
  • education (how can Switzerland halt the inexorable advance of English to the detriment of Swiss national languages);
  • the advantages and disadvantages of early and late immersion;
  • Swiss German being hard to access for French speakers as they learn standard German, versus the argument of Swiss German native speakers that Swiss German is their mother tongue, their culture;
  • the status of Italian, a “wallflower” language- there is no reason why cantons should not choose Italian as the second language to be taught in schools, rather than German and French;
  • language competence: these days, said MP Christian Levrat, many young politicians only possess passive language competence in another Swiss national language; older politicians were able to communicate well in more than one.

The first trawl of press coverage shows 97 articles and radio / TV mentions, mostly picking up on the fact that Switzerland comes out very well in terms of multilingual language policies. Much of the Swiss French-language press, including radio, state that English is a real threat to Switzerland’s linguistic diversity. The NZZ, Switzerland’s most serious German-language broadsheet writes, however, in a thoughtful article, that the perceived threat by English to Switzerland’s linguistic and cultural cohesion is a fearsome but imaginary creature, a “hob-goblin”.

So what does LRE do for Switzerland? I have picked out four areas that seem important to me; there are many more:

  • Switzerland comes out top in many areas, such as policies to extend and improve multilingualism;
  • Migrant languages seem to be well supported in the big cities;
  • In vocational training, Switzerland does not make language studies compulsory so apprentices are losing out;
  • Italian and Rumantsch are losing territory and are under-represented in official life and in education;

The next steps will be to cover some of the emerging issues in a series of workshops. These will cover multilingualism and business; education and migration.

The Language Rich Europe results for Switzerland are now available in draft form in German, French and Italian. Language Rich Europe in Switzerland is partnered by the University Of Fribourg, Institute of Multilingualism.

Subtitler – between a rock and a hard place

Subtitling is a wonderful and challenging job. Having worked as a subtitler for TV series and films, I’ve become familiar with a number of challenges subtitlers are faced with. In this post, I’ll discuss some of those challenges.

Subtitling is common in countries where the population is quite small, such as the Nordic Countries, whereas countries like Italy and Germany tend to turn to dubbing. Although dubbing is more expensive and could thus be considered “better” than subtitling, I think subtitling has many advantages. One of these is definitely the fact that this way you can learn languages: You hear the original language and can pick up phrases and intonations from that language, but you can also brush up your own mother tongue skills. The quality of subtitling needs to be high because people learn language from the subtitles. The subtitler needs to know the culture and language of both the original and the target country inside out. They also need to be good at searching information as many documentaries or films deal with subjects that have very specialised vocabulary. This is definitely also a positive side of the job: You learn about things you never thought existed in some cases (let alone get to watch series like Mad Men or films like I Vitelloni as part of your job)!

The text has to come up on the screen exactly the same time as something is said, and can only stay on the screen a few seconds. Sometimes it’s difficult to divide the subtitles and what’s more, sometimes it’s very challenging to be able to write down what’s said on the screen on just that subtitle, not the previous or the next. The word order of two different languages is not always the same and this can cause confusion especially to those viewers who speak both languages or want to try and learn the language while watching.

Viewers often get upset if they think not every word has been translated, or at least not the same way as in the original. Two common areas of discussion are humour and swear words.  Humour can of course be very culture specific and can sometimes require a completely different strategy than just sticking to the original which might not mean anything to the viewers. As for myself, when it comes to jokes, I’m often so curious that I want to understand both the original and the translated version properly and have the annoying habit of rewinding the scene back if watching a DVD.

It is said that the written word has a stronger impact than the spoken word. Thus hearing someone swear on the TV might go almost unnoticed at times but seeing the actual words written down on the screen can create an unnecessarily strong impact. Written word is also somehow more final, and that’s why we are more careful of what we write down than what we say. What’s more, usually we want to convey the feeling, the atmosphere of a certain scene, which can sometimes be better conveyed through a slightly different choice of words, which doesn’t draw unnecessary attention to the words themselves but instead to what they mean. In some cases it is, of course, best if not necessary to translate the words literally. Another fact that often determines the choice of words is the length: Only thirty some characters fit in the two lines reserved for subtitles. This means that things must be shortened quite a bit. When I translated an Italian film, it sometimes felt I couldn’t keep up because the characters were talking a lot and in very long sentences. I can imagine the opposite could be said of someone translating Kaurismäki’s film from Finnish. That could at first sight seem like an easy task but might turn out everything but.

It feels like I’ve just about scratched the surface and haven’t even started to talk about slang, dialects and many other issues that come up when subtitling. I hope I have at least given some food for thought!

Kaksikielisyys on iso ilo

Tyttäremme sai syntyessään suuren lahjan: kaksikielisyyden. Koska hänen äitinsä on suomenkielinen ja isänsä hollanninkielinen, hän sai lahjaksi suomen ja hollannin. Meille oli jo alusta asti selvää, että minä puhun hänelle suomea, mieheni hollantia. Olenkin ollut yllättynyt siitä, kuinka moni tuntuu kysyvän tästä ja jopa ihmettelevän asiaa, etenkin täällä Belgiassa: “Siis puhutko sinä hänelle suomea, vaikka asut Belgiassa? Oho.” Suoraan sanottuna minulle ei tulisi mieleenikään puhua lapselleni esimerkiksi englantia tai hollantia. Miksi tekisin niin? Mielestäni kaikkien lasten olisi hyvä puhua molempien vanhempiensa äidinkieltä ja toisekseen, mielestäni vanhempien on parasta puhua lapselleen omaa äidinkieltään, jotta nämä oppivat kieltä mahdollisimman virheettömästi ja oikein. Olen ymmärtänyt, että sillä ei ole niinkään suurta merkitystä, mitä kieltä vanhemmat puhuvat keskenään. Me olemme kuitenkin lapsemme syntymän jälkeen yrittäneet minimoida englannin ja italian ja keskittyä hollantiin ja suomeen myös keskinäisessä kanssakäymisessämme. Uskon, että tämä tekee hyvää sekä tyttäremme että meidän kielitaidollemme. Toki se voi tehdä hallaa italian ja englannin kielen taidoillemme, mutta koska meistä kumpikaan ei puhu näitä äidinkielenään, on tärkeämpi, että lapsemme ainakin alussa keskittyy kahteen kieleen ja oppii ne hyvin. Mehän voimme opiskella muita kieliä myöhemmin tai siinä sivussa; kuten kaikki tietävät, pienten lasten vanhemmilla on rutosti vapaa-aikaa.

Lapsemme puhuu tällä hetkellä molempia kieliä vähän sekaisin, mutta mielenkiintoista on, että vaikka asumme Belgiassa, hän puhuu ja ymmärtää suomea huomattavasti paremmin kuin hollantia/flaamia. Tarkemmin ajatellen tähän on kuitenkin aika monta järkisyytä. Ensinnäkin minä olen ollut tyttäremme ensisijainen hoitaja siinä mielessä, että hoidin häntä kotona, kunnes palasin töihin osa-aikaisesti ja hän aloitti päiväkodin. Kotona puhun hänelle aina suomea, luen suomenkielisiä kirjoja, kuuntelemme etupäässä suomenkielistä (lasten-)musiikkia, soitan pianoa ja laulan pääasiassa suomenkielisiä lauluja ja ylipäänsäkin vietän hänen kanssaan paljon aikaa.

Myös sosiaaliset suhteet vaikuttavat tunnetusti kielten oppimiseen. Asuinmaa tai kontaktien määrä ei kuitenkaan automaattisesti määrää vahvempaa kieltä. Tyttäremme käy osa-aikaisesti hollanninkielisessä päiväkodissa, missä hän oppii hollantia. Hänen isänsä lisäksi hän tapaa täällä muita sukulaisia ja ystäviä, jotka puhuvat hollantia. Minä tapaan myös säännöllisesti suomenkielisiä ystäviäni sekä Belgiassa että Suomessa. Useimmilla heistä on myös lapsia, joten lapsemme pääsevät leikkimään yhdessä. Lasten ollessa pienempiä järjestimme toisinaan myös jonkinasteisia musiikkileikkikouluja, joissa soitimme tai ainakin lauloimme yhdessä – suomeksi. Lisäksi Skypen kautta voimme olla yhteydessä suomalaisiin sukulaisiin ja ystäviin. Epäilen, että viimeistään koulun alkaessa kielten paikat vaihtuvat ja hollannista tulee tyttäremme vahvempi kieli, mutta sitä suuremmalla syyllä hänen onkin hyvä oppia mahdollisimman paljon suomea nyt. Hän ei myöskään tällä hetkellä vielä seuraa mediaa, ja uskon, että vanhempana silläkin on varmasti vaikutuksensa. Toki lehtiä, tv:tä ja radiotakin voi seurata usealla kielellä.

Minä odotan mielenkiinnolla, koska tyttäremme suomen kielen taito yltää hänen isänsä suomen kielen taidon tasolle. Lapsemme varmasti innostaa meitäkin opettelemaan toinen toisemme äidinkieltä paremmin. Olen kuullut, että kriisejäkin saattaa olla luvassa: lapsi saattaa esimerkiksi kieltäytyä puhumasta toista kieltä, vaikka osaisikin sitä. Tätä on kuitenkin turha miettiä nyt, kun voimme vielä toistaiseksi nauttia lapsemme uusista ja hauskoista oivalluksista molemmilla kielillä.

To be continued…   

Lingue per un cuore europeo – Costruzione di un’identità plurilingue e pluriculturale dell’Europa nel mondo

Silvia Minardi from Language Rich Europe partner LEND (lingua e nuova didattica), blogs on the recent conference in Turin, Italy. 

A Torino, dal 28 al 30 ottobre scorso, abbiamo noi di LEND (lingua e nuova didattica) celebrato i nostri primi quarant’anni come associazione multilingue che si batte per una scuola plurilingue nelle sue scelte curricolari. E lo abbiamo fatto con un seminario internazionale dal titolo “Lingue per un cuore europeo. Costruzione di un’identità plurilingue e pluriculturale dell’Europa nel mondo”.

Abbiamo anche celebrato i 150 anni dell’Unità d’Italia, un processo nel quale il ruolo della lingua italiana è sempre stato quello di unire il Paese e di farlo uscire da quello stato di analfabetismo generale che caratterizzava la società italiana della seconda metà dell‘800.

E la nostra festa è stata molto bella perché abbiamo potuto condividere emozioni, ricordi, progetti, idee con tanti amici di sempre con un occhio attento al futuro e alle sfide che le nuove società plurali ci mettono continuamente di fronte.

La cerimonia di apertura che ha visto la presenza di tutti i rappresentanti delle Agenzie Culturali Straniere presenti in Italia (British Council Italy, Goethe Institut, l’Ambasciata di Francia con il Bureau de Coopération Linguistique et Artistique) è stata presieduta da Jean Claude Beacco che, illustrando i progetti più recenti del Consiglio d’Europa, ci ha aiutato a guardare dentro il concetto di identità plurale che era tra le parole chiave del Seminario stesso. Le relazioni in plenaria si sono susseguite con un ritmo molto vivace e hanno visto la presenza di illustri studiosi nei loro rispettivi campi di indagine e di ricerca: Piercesare Rivoltella, Peeter Mehisto, Michel Candelier, Uwe Mohr, Hermann Funk, Monica Barni, Rita Sidoli e tanti altri. Incastonate nel programma del seminario abbiamo voluto ascoltare la narrazione di alcune persone che hanno nella loro storia individuale vissuto la pluralità di lingue, di culture, di appartenenze, di identità. Tra le relazioni hanno suscitato interesse e grande attesa i primi dati relativi alla situazione del Plurilinguismo nel nostro Paese che Martin Hope ci ha fornito in relazione al progetto LRE – Language Rich Europe. Importanti sono stati anche i lavori che docenti lend e non solo hanno mostrato e realizzato nei laboratori del sabato pomeriggio con un pubblico attento e molto motivato di fronte ad esperienze concrete di plurilinguismo che sono state l’oggetto dei diversi laboratori.

La conclusione è stata affidata a Gustavo Zagrebelsky, presidente emerito della Corte Costituzionale, autore di un libro dal titolo “Le parole del tempo presente”.

E’ evidente che un seminario di questa portata per i temi affrontati, le domande sollevate, le emozioni e i ricordi che il compleanno di LEND ha saputo suscitare non si esaurisce con la cerimonia di chiusura e la consegna del tricolore alle responsabili del gruppo lend di Torino da parte del Presidente Nazionale. Un seminario come quello di Torino è destinato a lasciare un segno nel tempo. Come tanti altri seminari lend, anche questo non passerà senza aver provato a cambiare le cose in questa scuola sempre più grigia e sempre meno plurilingue.

www.lend.it