- Minority languages
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In the 21st century all European citizens live in a multilingual environment. In their daily lives they come across many different languages. Consequently there is a growing interest in multilingualism and an increasing need for language communities to exchange experiences and to cooperate. The Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning, part of the Fryske Akademy, meets this need by collecting, researching and studying, circulating, and applying knowledge in the field of language learning and use at school, at home and through cultural participation. The Mercator Research Centre is an independent and recognised reference centre for policymakers and professional workers in the field of multilingual education and language learning. The Mercator Research Centre brings Europe to Fryslân and Fryslân to Europe.
Bildts is a minority language spoken in the Northwestern part of the province of Fryslân in the Netherlands. It has some 6,000 native speakers. Currently, Bildts does not have official recognition as a minority language in the Netherlands, although it receives support from both the province and the local municipality.
This municipality is planned to be merged into a larger municipality in 2018. At the same time, the municipal council of Het Bildt has set elevation of Bildts as one of its policy goals. The Mercator report, which was presented at the town hall of Het Bildt on 2 July 2015, provides a vision for a Bildts language policy to be set out in the preparatory process towards this merger of municipalities. More specifically, it explores chances for and expected consequences of inclusion of Bildts in the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.
Download the report "Seven perspectives on Bildts" [PDF], authored by linguistic researcher Paulus van Sluis.
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Dr. Stephan Breidbach is Professor of English Language Education at Humboldt-Universität, Berlin, Germany.
His research interests are in addition to the bilingual subject: teaching foreign language in teacher training, Critical Language Awareness, language policy and learning identities.
"Foreign language teaching is traditionally monocultural in content and often monolingual in practice. I think a change in the mind-set of language teachers is necessary regarding their linguistic and professional identities. Another challenge in foreign language teaching is to cater for plurilingual learners. Particularly in urban schools, their numbers are significant, and traditional foreign language teaching still conceptualises learners as monolingual speakers of the dominant language within a society."
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The Regional dossiers describe the position of lesser-used languages in education, give information on national and regional education systems, and include the latest statistics regarding lesser-used languages in education in Europe.
The work on Endangered Languages (Phonetics and Ethnolinguistics) at the Fryske Akademy and the Mercator Research Centre is focused on the study of language contrasts, language contact and language change. We investigate the phonetic aspects of languages and dialects of minority and regional languages, in particular those of the Russian Federation and neighbouring countries. This work is supported by grants from the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Organisation INTAS of the European Union, the British Library, Japanese Foundations and Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd.
The Network of Schools' mission is to create a platform for multilingual schools in minority regions within Europe in order to facilitate the exchange of information and experiences.