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.