Safeguarding linguistic diversity: Building bridges in education

Did you know that more than 40% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are in danger?

According to UNESCO, our globalised era faces an enormous challenge: linguistic diversity and multilingual education are being seriously threatened. Year after year, languages all over the earth are disappearing, while education is not always available in different languages.

Languages are crucial for promoting inclusion, sustainable development, cultural diversity and equal cooperation. They have always been the bridge between societies and one of the fundamental pillars of our identities and cultural heritage. That is why it is of the utmost importance to keep promoting multilingualism and raising awareness about our vast linguistic diversity.

Striving for a multilingual society is striving for accessible and equal multilingual education. The European Schoolnet Academy, realising the importance of multilingualism, has started to provide online courses in different languages.

Every two weeks, a language dies. The world is diminished when it loses its human sayings, just as when it loses its diversity of plants and beasts.
Eduardo Galeano - famous Uruguayan writer and journalist

To celebrate this day, Ismini Georgiadi, Editorial Officer at European Schoolnet, gives us some insight into the role of EUN in fostering multilingual education.

Why is multilingual education relevant in Europe?

Language is communication, and communication is probably the most important building block of human achievement. It has only gotten more important in the 21st century with globalisation, the rise of the Internet and the advent of social media. By learning different languages, we can get in touch with people and cultures that used to be inaccessible to us. More than that, we can begin to appreciate them – their humour, their books and TV shows, their strange idioms – which is sorely needed in today's polarising climate, and which hopefully enriches us as people, too.

What is the European Schoolnet Academy and how does it contribute to preserving linguistic diversity?

The European Schoolnet Academy is a platform offering free MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for teachers, in order to help them innovate their classroom and deal with its ever-increasing challenges.

Since 2018, we have started organising courses in more languages besides English. That is an obvious contribution to linguistic diversity, but European Schoolnet Academy supports language learning in smaller ways, too. Given that we have course participants from all over Europe and beyond, small hubs of communication sometimes arise organically – for example on Padlets or social media. Other times, we actively encourage these language groups: on the EU Code Week MOOC, we had national forums in 13 languages, moderated by native speakers, and on the Teaching ICT with Inquiry MOOC, we had French and Spanish cohorts.

What kind of educational material can be found there and in how many languages?

Europeana in your classroom, a course showing teachers how to integrate digital cultural heritage into their classroom, will run in French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish this March.

Also, the TeachUP series of courses addresses modern pedagogies and the changing role of the teacher, and is available in ten languages – English, Estonian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Slovak, Spanish and Turkish. That makes a total of forty courses!

In both cases, all course materials were translated into the aforementioned languages, and participants submitted their work in those languages, as well. Other courses reinforce linguistic diversity in an ad-hoc manner: for instance, the EU Code Week MOOC offered webinars in Italian, Greek and Polish, and the 3Rs MOOC did the same in Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish.

As Ismini Georgiadi highlighted, the Academy course catalogue has a unique linguistic richesse. We will, certainly, continue expanding our multilingual offer to play our part in preserving one of the paramount cornerstones of humanity: linguistic diversity!