Case study – Multilingual school tournament, Lithuania

Language Rich Europe promotes the sharing of good practice in the area of multilingualism. On our website, you can read and submit your own case studies.

In this blog post, we look at one such case study from Lithuania, where they seek to promote multilingualism and the learning of a variety of foreign languges through a multilingual tournament.

The first multilingual tournament ‘I speak, you speak – we communicate’ was held in Lithuania in 2012. It brought together school pupils (grades 9 – 11) from all over the country, speaking two or more foreign languages. Pupils took part in tasks including impromptu speaking, dictation, jokes and dubbing of an animation film, as well as a general-knowledge round where questions were asked in English about the countries where the main four contest languages (English, Russian, German and French) are spoken. Other languages such as Italian, Spanish, Ukrainian, Swedish, Chinese, polish, Japanese and Armenian were also represented

Initiated by the Ministry of Education and Science, the British Council and the American International School of Vilnius, a committee of 14 partners was formed. The tournament encouraged students and teachers to learn different languages, to develop their individual plurilingualism and to look at different language learning possibilities.

To read more about this and other case studies, and to submit your own good practice example, visit our website!

LRE Launch – Ukraine

Language Rich Europe launches the results of its research in Kyiv, Ukraine on Friday 9 November at the Institute of Social and Political Psychology of the National Academy of Pedagogic Sciences of Ukraine.

Ukraine is one of only three non-EC countries participating in the project (the others are Bosnia and Herzegovina and Switzerland).

The programme for the event is as follows:

Welcome speeches by the President of the National Academy of Pedagogic Sciences, the Directory of British Council Ukraine and the Deputy Minister of Education and Science.

Project overview by Eilidh MacDonald, Project Co-ordinator Language Rich Europe, British Council Germany

Cross-national analysis of language policies and practices in Europe by Prof. Guus Extra, Tilburg University

Presentation of the LRE research results in Ukraine – Lyubov Naydonova, Institute of Social and Political Psychology

Presentation on language policies and practices in Wales – Martin Dowle, British Council Ukraine

The presentations will be followed by a round table discussion with the following topics and speakers:

Language Policy Trends in Lithuania, Vilma Backiute, Ministry of Education and Science of Lithuania

Main Aspects of Multilingual Education Development in Autonomous Republic of Crimea: Policy, Identity, Culture – Iryna Brunova-Kalisetska and Yulia Tyschenko, Crimea Policy Dialogue Project

Issues of language policy in higher education – Prof. Stepko M.F, Institute of Higher Education

Presentation by Prof Vasyutynsky V.O., Institute of Social and Political Psychology

Language policy and the language situation in Ukraine, Prof. Masenko L.T., Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

Maži mažakalbiai – is Lithuania ‘a small nation with a small number of languages?’

Vilma Bačkiūtė, Project Manager British Council Lithuania, summarises an article about Language Rich Europe which first appeared in the Lithuanian magazine, IQ I 2012 metai I Rugpjūtis 08 (29)

The August issue of the monthly magazine IQ devotes three full pages to an article on the Language Rich Europe results and language policy issues in Lithuania. The article by Viktorija Vitkauskaitė is an interesting read and covers a number of key points suggested by the LRE launch in Vilnius. The ‘average performance’ by Lithuania is summed up in a quotation by Dr Irena Smetonienė, who states that ‘Lithuania is neither among high achievers, nor among loosers’. Still, the title of the article ‘Maži mažakalbiai’ suggests that Lithuania is ’a small nation with a small number of languages’. The LRE findings actually do not look too worrying for Lithuania, but the IQ article suggests the we should start reviewing our language curricula as we are losing the competitive edge as a country and living the strategy of ‘English is enough’.

The key points covered in the article are:

–         Children at pre-school age can learn languages only ‘out of their parents’ pocket’ and here Lithuania is lacking behind seven countries in the LRE research.

–          English prevails in all sectors at the expense of other languages, which is not different from anywhere else, but not at such a high percentage: 92% of secondary school learners choose English and continue it as the only language in the later stages of education (!)

–          Companies require language skills, but neither invest in nor use the linguistic capacity of the staff. Prof. Boguslavas Gruževskis says: ‘This is a general problem which is a result of low valuing of work force [by employers]’. Lifelong Learning programmes are there for language learning but not used.

–          Employees of state institutions are encouraged and supported more in language learning, but there is a lack of multilingualism in city services. Kęstutis Ambrozaitis, executive manager of Lithuanian Tours, confirms that tourists lack services other than in English in Lithuania, although, for example, German tourism has grown by 23% in the last year.

–          The article also expands on immigrant languages that receive no attention at all in Lithuania. Immigrant languages will likely be ignored in decades to come. Prof. Boguslavas Gruževskis is quoted as saying that it’s an unfortunate trend, as by ‘’using’’ immigrants and their language potential the country’s economy /employers can gain a lot, including access to other countries and cultures.

–         Loreta Senkutė, president of the Lithuanian Youth Council (LiJOT), voices the students’ suggestion for a major change in language education for Lithuania: all learners throughout education should learn more than one compulsory foreign language and English should preferably be offered as the second foreign language in the school curriculum as it is picked up faster than other languages due to its spread in media, music, movies, etc.

Readers of Lithuanian can access the full article at (see issue IQ 2012 m. Nr. 8 – Politika / Maži mažakalbiai  – NB: it’s paid subscription).

The findings of the Language Rich Europe research launched in Lithuania in May – read more about it here and view the LRE Lithuania profile on our website.

The LRE Launch hosted by the British Council’s partners in Lithuania

The findings of Language Rich Europe research were presented to the public in Lithuania on 25 May in Kaunas and 4 June in Vilnius. Please read on to find out more about the launches and the findings in the article below, written by Vilma Bačkiūtė, our Project Manager in Lithuania. 

The very first launch in Kaunas was hosted by Vytautas Magnus University, where a selected audience (the research respondents and media) were invited. The audience was 25 participants and the presentations by the project team were followed by challenging questions on the methodology, validity and follow-up of the research.

The second venture took place at the Parliament and hosted by the Lithuanian Association of Language Teachers (LKPA) as part of the Association’s 6th International Conference “Languages, Culture, and Globalisation” on 4 June. The conference audience was 180 educators and all the presentations were filmed and live streamed to the MPs’ offices.

The most beneficial results of the launches so far are new partnerships built. Firstly, two high quality magazines – Valstybė and IQ magazine group – got interested in Language Rich Europe results and plan to publish articles on multilingualism issues in their autumn issues. Secondly, the LRE is invited to be presented at the INTEGRA Project conference on 15 June.

The findings on languages in education were presented by Dr Irena Smetonienė (Vilnius University). The LRE results did not surprise the Lithuanian audience. Lithuania looks moderate in offering four most commonly used foreign languages (English, German, French, and Russian) and supporting four languages of national minorities (Polish, Russian, Hebrew, and Belarusian) throughout education.

Though the Lithuanian law supports and promotes plurilingualism (individual multilingualism), the efficient implementation of the European Strategy for Multilingualism is a challenge which lacks institutional coordination and cooperation as well as well-defined distribution of responsibilities.

Dr Julija Moskvina (Institute of Labour and Social Research) focused on the other sectors – public services and business – where Lithuania scores moderately (again!). Despite the variety of languages used in Lithuania, cities (in terms of public services) and companies (in terms of language strategies) pay insufficient attention to recognising and promoting multilingualism.

Lithuania particularly cares about the status and usage of the Lithuanian language as its state language. Lithuanians constitute the absolute majority of residents of Lithuania (83.9% in 2011) and the population in Lithuania is becoming more and more homogeneous even in the context of increasing mobility in the EU. Lithuania has 4.8% immigrants (as the percentage of national population). Most of the newcomers are citizens of the Republic of Lithuania returning to live in their homeland.

Professor Boguslavas Gruževskis (Institute of Labour and Social Research) offered a wider perspective looking at languages as a target for individuals for being competitive in the labour market and general welfare.

The panel discussion included the international project team members: Naydonova Lyubov (Institute of Social and Political Psychology,Ukraine), Liliana Szczuka – Dorna (Poznan University of Technology, Poland), Irina Sukhinina (British Council, Ukraine), and Aneta Quraishy (British Council, Germany).

Anna Holmén (Belgium) represented the Directorate General for Translation at the European Commission and her presentation introduced the EU multilingualism at practice. Dr Ina Dagytė (Kaunas University of Technology) looked closer at the Lithuanian identity through the SWOT analysis and discussed what role the language has for our national identity.

Probably the most challenging contribution during the launch was by Loreta Senkutė, LiJOT president, who presented students’ opinion and recommendations on multilingualism issues and language education in Lithuania. Their recommendations include:

  • Developing one languages strategy for all language groups in education – the state language, national minority and foreign languages;
  • Investing more of coordinated effort in forming public understanding of the value of languages and multilingualism;
  • Expanding the variety of foreign languages offered in education;
  • Using more innovative methods in language teaching.

The second day of the conference continued at Mykolas Romeris University and provided more time for discussing the LRE findings into the context of teaching practices. The topics included: the Impact of Globalisation on Languages and Culture; Language Policy in Lithuania and Abroad; Languages and Intercultural Communication; Teaching Mother Tongue; etc.

You can read the abridged version of the LRE report in Lithuanian online.

For more photos from our launches, please visit our facebook page

Today’s launch: Vilnius, Lithuania

“Languages, Culture, Globalisation”

Today’s Language Rich Europe project launch is hosted at the International Conference “Languages, Culture, Globalisation” in Vilnius. The first day of the conference is held at the Parliament (lth. Seimas) with nearly 200 participants registered. The patron of the conference is Mr Valentinas Stundys, MP, Chair of the Committee on Education, Science and Culture. The Association of Language Teachers in Lituania (LKPA) are the main organisers of the venture.

There are several individual presentations as well as plenary sessions and panel discussions at this event. Please see the full programme of the event for more information. You can also find more information on the Language Teachers’ Association of Lithuania website.

Tomorrow’s launches: Poland and Lithuania


Did you know that…

‘Poland has adopted an interesting practice with regard to teaching Polish to immigrants. Bearing in mind that teaching Polish to immigrants is not the same as teaching Polish as a mother tongue, head teachers delegate this task to teachers of foreign languages, for example to teachers of English and not to teachers of Polish.’

The Poland launch will take place on 25 May 2012 at Warsaw Polytechnics. There will be several speakers discussing the findings of the project. These are:

  • Andy Williams, Director British Council Poland
  • Martin Hope, Language Rich Europe Project Director and Data Expert
  • Liliana Szczuka-Dorna, Head of Department of Modern Languages at Poznan University of Technology

Coinciding with the Poland launch is the first part of Lithuania’s launch on 25 May 2012 at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas. The invited participants to the very first launch are representatives of the education institutions, companies, and cities researched, as well as the media. Speakers will be:

  • Dr. Julija Moskvina, Institute of Labour and Social Research, Lithuania
  • Dr. Irena Smetonienė, Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Vilma Bačkiūtė, British Council, Lithuania


Did you know that…

‘Lithuania particularly cares about the status and usage of its state language. As for the rights of ethnic minorities, including the right to preserve their own languages and cultures,Lithuania has taken as many responsibilities as there can be in terms of the protection of minority rights.’

Latvija po mikroinfarkto – Latvia After Heart Failure

In a referendum held on Saturday, 18 February the people of Latvia voted by a clear majority – 77.22 % – against Russian being made the country’s second official language. For this post, Vilma Bačkiūtė, our Language Rich Europe Project Manager in Lithuania, collected articles dealing with the referendum from Lithuanian press in Lithuanian. At the end of the blog post, you will find links to English and Latvian articles.

Latvijoje šeštadienį, vasario 18 d. įvykusiame referendume už antrosios valstybinės kalbos statuso suteikimą rusų kalbai balsavo 22,5 % piliečių, prieš – 77,22 %. Viso balsavo 70,37 % gyventojų.

Latvijos referendumas sulaukė ypatingo žiniasklaidos dėmesio ir Lietuvoje. Visi portalai ir dienraščiai akylai sekė nuotaikas kaimyninėje šalyje. Lietuvos apžvalgininkų, politologų, visuomenės veikėjų ir politikų pasisakymai aiškiai pritaria referendumo rezultatams, kurie labai svarbūs visoms trims Baltijos valstybėms.

Ar referendumas sudėjo taškus ant “i”?

Pasak užsienio reikalų ministro Audronio Ažubalio, “Tai yra Latvijos valstybingumo pasiekimas, kuriuo Latvija gali pagrįstai didžiuotis, o mes, lietuviai, ir visos kitos tautos privalome gerbti”.

Politologą, istoriką Antaną Kulakauską „nustebino tai, kad Latvijos gyventojai šį kartą buvo kaip niekad vieningi. Toks procentas balsavusių prieš rusų kalbos statuso pakeitimą gali reikšti tik tai, kad ne tik etniniai latviai, bet ir vietos rusai suprato, kad referendumas yra tik politikų siekis gauti populiarumą.”

Euro parlamentaro Vytauto Landsbergio nuomone, „To tikrai turbūt nesitikėjo iniciatoriai nei Maskvoje, nei Rygoje. Rezultatai, ko gero, yra priešingi, negu laukta. Matomas latvių ir lojalių Latvijai piliečių susivienijimas vietoje laukto suskaldymo į dvi dalis, kur būtų supriešinti latviai ir ne latviai…“

Rimvydas Valatka savo straipsnyje Latviją vadina “nerealiai tolerantiška tautinėms mažumoms valstybe”. Jo nuomone, tai patvirtina faktas, kad Latvijos rusai, nemokėdami latviškai, čia vis dėlto sugebėjo išgyventi pastaruosius 22 metus.

Latvijos Saeimos narys Romualdas Ražukas teigė, jog referendumas buvo nemalonus ir provokuojantis procesas, tačiau jo rezultatus – netikėtai pozityvus. Jo nuomone, iškalbingas faktas yra Rygos gyventojų balsų pasiskirstymas. Latvijos sostinėje gyvena 42 % latvių, tačiau prieš rusų kalbos antrąja valstybine kalba paskelbimą Rygoje pasisakė net 63 %.

Referendumas Latvijoje dar kartą primena, kad valstybių vykdoma kalbų politika gali tapti politiniu ginklu. Nežiūrint to, Baltijos valstybių piliečiai demonstruoja daug brandesnį požiūrį į kalbinius reikalus nei kai kurie politiniai veikėjai. Švedų režisieriaus, žurnalisto ir vertėjo Jono Öhman žodžiais, “Lietuviai, latviai ir estai, kitaip nei dauguma Europos tautų, mano, kad rusų kalba labai naudinga. Po anglų pusė Lietuvos gyventojų rusų kalbai duoda antrą vietą reikalingų užsienio kalbų sąraše. Tai galima paaiškinti netolima Baltijos šalių praeitimi ir, žinoma, dabartimi. Juk Rusija ­­– didelė Baltijos šalių kaimynė. Dabar net jaunimas, kuris nelabai moka rusiškai, nes rusų kalbos dėstymas mokyklose atgavus nepriklausomybę išblėso, dažnai pareiškia norįs mokytis būtent šios kalbos. Tad rusų kalba pamažu grįžta į užsienio kalbų mokymo programą.”

Ko gero situaciją po referendumo Latvijoje tiksliausiai apibūdina Arvydas Juozaitis: “Latvija – po mikroinfarkto. Reikia jai padėti.”

For more information in English, go to:

Latvia’s failed referendum

Lithuanian and Estonian officials issue statement on Latvian language

Kremlin manipulates Russians in Latvia

Lithuanian politicians rejoice in Latvia’s referendum results

Latvians voted “No” on making Russian second state language

Latvians celebrate referendum results and claim they voted against foreign language, not against nation

Rimvydas Valatka: Latvian referendum is not the last echo of Soviet occupation

For more information in Latvian, go to:

Latvijas krieviete: Varu apzvērēt – nekādas etniskās diskriminācijas Latvijā nav