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Strategic Framework

What is the EU's role in languages?

The European Commission (EC) is committed to developing language learning policies across Europe, as part of its aim to “improve the mastery of basic language skills in Europe”.

Priorities in field of languages include several important objectives:

  • to retool education systems in Member States so that students graduate with higher competencies in foreign languages,
  • to gather data in order to formulate benchmarks in the design of new language-learning policies,
  • to encourage multilingualism as a pathway to improved employment prospects and free movement in the EU,
  • to enable the European Centre of Modern Languages to effectively teach foreign language skills,
  • to reward innovative initiatives in the field of teaching and learning languages.

The activities of the Directorate General for Education and Culture in the field of languages is outlined in more detail in the strategic framework for multingualism.

Why is it needed?

Foreign language acquisition lies at the heart of EU core values. Learning a second language encourages the free movement of workers and fosters intercultural dialogue in Europe and beyond.

The ability to speak foreign languages is also an increasingly important factor for economic competitiveness. Today, many businesses require advanced language skills in order to function in the global marketplace and those who lack them can face major mobility obstacles.

Yet too many Europeans still leave school lacking a working knowledge of a second language. This is why language reform must begin with education.

What is being done?

The EC responds to these needs through three main activities:

In addition to this, the EC supports these activities through two key initiatives:

How is this being done?

The first European Survey on Language Competencespdf(11.39 Mb) Choose translations of the previous link  , indicates Member States must reform their education systems based on new methodologies for teaching both the first and second foreign languages.  

The European Indicator of Language Competence and the European Benchmark of Language Competence initiatives will help European governments to develop language-learning policies and improve national standards.

In addition, the new Erasmus+ programme will provide young people with the opportunities to participate in exchange programmes for learning new languages.