As well as official documents setting out language policies, there have been many debates and discussions about Multilingualism. This section summarizes some of the main ones.
UK Debates Post 2001
Other unofficial, but influential documents about language policy in the UK include the Agenda for languages which was launched in 2001 – The European Year of Languages, and A new landscape for languages (2003) which analysed the changes taking place in particular for Higher Education.
These debates provided the groundwork for significant policy developments between 2000 and 2010, in all parts of the UK.
The period between 2010 and 2016 has seen a reduction in support and funding for languages in the UK, and a less strategic approach overall. This has not, however, diminished the importance of languages or the interest in languages within the UK. Through organisations such as ALL, UCML and the CIOL as well as SALT and SCILT in Scotland and NICILT in Northern Ireland, debate continues. New associations, notably Speak to The Future and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Languages have also taken up the baton. The British Council has also taken a much more active role on languages. Some important documents have been an OFSTED report on languages (2012), a British Council Report on Languages for the Future, the “Born Global” programme funded by the British Academy and the annual Language Trends review published by the British Council. The APPG on Modern Languages also produced a Manifesto for languages at the time of the 2015 election which received considerable support, and most recently produced a new policy document Brexit & Languages.
Since 2008 there have been no significant official publications on language policy, and multilingualism has been downgraded in the European Commission. The Council of Europe has also reduced staffing and resources devoted to language policy, although the ECML continues to be active in the sphere of pedagogy and innovation.
A Rewarding Challenge
Following the publication of the Action Plan, a major contribution to the debate about multilingualism was published in 2008 – A rewarding Challenge – how the multiplicity of languages could strengthen Europe. Written by a Group of Intellectuals for Intercultural Dialogue and chaired by Amin Maalouf, the report sets out a number of interesting proposals about cultural identity, diversity and fundamental values including the idea of a “personal adoptive language”. Although presented to and discussed by the education Ministers of the EU, this document is not part of official policy but a stimulus for debate.
Despite an observable official retrenchment, there continues to be much debate on European multilingualism – on the basic policy of Mother Tongue plus 2, on the role of English and on migrant languages for example. The Council of Europe also has promoted discussion around the The Languages of Schooling and Migrant languages.
A recent overview of language policy in Europe is the “Languages in Europe – Theory, Policy and Practice” (LETPP) project and publication which proposed a new model for language policy in Europe. Similar themes were developed by Language Rich Europe, a British Council coordinated project which reviewed language provision across Europe and made a number of key recommendations for change to the European Commission.