This paper aims to reflect on the linguistic equipment or repertoire individuals will realistically require in order to be able to participate in the developing and shaping process of a European polity. It looks at a model of the structure of a European public communicative sphere and explores possible consequences for policies in foreign language teaching in general and the role of English in particular. The general frame of reference will be the concept of “Education for Democratic Citizenship” as it is developed by the Council of Europe.
This text was commissioned by the Language Policy Division for the Conference on Languages, diversity, citizenship: policies for plurilingualism in Europe (13-15 November 2002). In the framework of a general discussion of diversification of language education policies, the need emerged to single out the “question” of the role of English teaching/learning in Europe for separate treatment. This problem has long been recognised as crucial for implementing any kind of diversified language teaching. At the Innsbruck Conference on “Linguistic diversity for democratic citizenship in Europe” (10-12 May 1999), the Language Policy Division was specifically asked to produce discussion papers on this particular aspect of language policy. This text, together with others in the same series, is a response to this demand from member States.
The paper reviews the issue of English in relation to plurilingualism, which many Council of Europe Recommendations have pinpointed as a principle and goal of language education policies. It is essential that plurilingualism be valued at the level of the individual and that their responsibility in this matter be assumed by all the education institutions concerned.Download the paper