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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, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early stage.

Priorities in field of languages include several important objectives:

  • to increase the results of language learning in compulsory education, by renewing focus on the quality and efficiency of language teaching and teachers’ skills;
  • to assure an inclusive school environment, in particular by taking into account the increasing phenomenon of multilingual classrooms and acknowledging migrant languages;
  • to improve testing and assessment, by establishing evaluation systems that ensure comparable learning outcomes;
  • to increase the quality of mobility actions through linguistic support under Erasmus+;
  • to link foreign language education to skills strategies, in order to face the increasing need for a skilled workforce in an enlarged, competitive European labour market;
  • to reward innovative initiatives in the field of teaching and learning languages.
Why is it needed?

Foreign language acquisition lies at the heart of EU core values. Acquiring adequate language skills fosters intercultural dialogue in Europe and beyond, encourages the free movement of workers and strengthens their employability.

The ability to speak foreign languages is a predominant factor for economic competitiveness. More and more businesses today require advanced language skills in order to function in the global marketplace and those who lack them can face major mobility obstacles. Statistics show that companies can lose business as a consequence of lack of effective foreign language communication capacity.

Yet too many Europeans still leave school lacking adequate language skills. Language reform must therefore begin with education and language knowledge should go hand in hand with the concept of lifelong learning.

What is being done?

The EC responds to these needs through several 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(11.95 Mb) Traduções da ligação anterior  , 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 Competencepdf 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. Assessment of the competence level in the languages of instruction or work before and after mobility will be compulsory for all participants in mobility actions and online language courses will be made available for these participants on a voluntary basis.