The European Commission has an expert group on early language learning at pre-primary level that:
- exchanges information on the situation in different countries, and examples of best practice
- draws up policy recommendations and guidelines on implementing early language learning policy.
Issues discussed by the group
- how to best design and implement early language-learning policies
- teaching processes: e.g. awareness-raising activities to foster children's curiosity, full immersion in the target language
- teachers' skills: from pedagogical skills to a certain level of language knowledge
- how to deal with children's different backgrounds: for example to value the language potential of children with a minority or migrant background
- roles of parents: involving them in language-learning activities especially when they are native speakers of the target language.
The outcomes of the group's work and discussions were published in a Policy Handbook [169 KB] in 2011.
Voluntary policy coordination by governments
The working group was created as part of the "open method of coordination".
This method enables the Commission to work together with EU governments in areas that are under national control, such as employment, welfare, social inclusion, education, youth and training. It is based on:
- jointly identified goals (adopted by the EU Council)
- jointly agreed criteria (statistics, indicators, guidelines)
- benchmarking, i.e. comparing performance in the different EU countries and sharing best practice (monitored by the Commission).