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Newly elected President of the Civil Society Platform to promote multilingualismNewly elected President of the Civil Society Platform to promote multilingualism
News  ¦  18/08/2014

In March 2014, Bessie Dendrinos (Vassiliki Dendrinou in Greek), serving as delegate of the European Federation of National Institutions for Language (EFNIL) on the Civil Society Platform for Multilingualism (CSPM), was elected the CSPM’s new President, succeeding Uwe Mohr, delegate of EUNIC. 

The CSPM has supported the European Commission’s Multilingualism Policy Unit, DG for Education and Culture (DG EAC), in its intense endeavours in the last two years to follow up on the new strategy for education in Europe (2014-2020), Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes, to promote issues regarding languages in Erasmus+, languages in European Higher Education in the world, and the role of languages in Opening up Education.

It has also been contributing to the preparation in preparing a proposal for the European Council regarding the adoption of a European benchmark for language competences, following the results of the European Survey of Language Competences (ESLC 2012), which provided empirical evidence that educational systems in the European Union (EU) are far from achieving the 2002 Barcelona objective, which is to provide all European students with the right to learn in school two languages in addition to their mother tongue, from an early age. Even though the European Council did not actually go as far as adopting the proposal for European benchmark on languages, it agreed that Member States individually or collaboratively should systematically follow up, monitor and assess progress in students’ language competences. As such, both the European Commission and Member States were invited to develop appropriate ways for assessing language proficiency, and to make use of the Open Method of Coordination to exchange experiences and best practices in this field. The Council also proposed assessment of language learning progress on the basis of a proficiency indicator, combined with data on teaching input. Thus, it is among the basic priorities of the Commission (i) to support systems for the assessment of language competences in the Member States, and (ii) to continue the promotion of multilingualism under the Erasmus+ programme, making possible those strategic partnerships which will allow the dissemination of best practices in language learning, teaching and assessment. 

Though under its new leadership, the mission of the CSPM and especially its initiatives are being reconsidered, on the basis of feedback from its members, it is definitely committed to pursuing the aims of multilingualism in the EU and the objectives of the EU language strategy. It fully agrees that ‘foreign languages are essential to ensuring that European citizens are able to move, work, and learn freely throughout Europe’ and that it is also imperative to make sure ‘that languages are not a barrier to participation in society, and that marginalised language groups can be identified, represented, and included in society.’ Therefore, it will continue to act upon the DG EAC's priorities, which presently include actions such as: making information available to everyone in the official languages of the EU, ensuring the inclusion of regional and minority languages, promoting early language learning and bi-lingual education. It will also continue supporting research and individual or collaborative actions aiming at improved teaching, learning and assessment practices.

In working with the Commission’s priorities, the CSPM intends to continue supporting the EC in its efforts to make national governments, policy makers and the civil society in the EU recognize the importance of languages in all aspects of social and cultural life, as well as in the workplace, for intellectual and economic growth, for employability and mobility. Moreover, and in expectation of the priorities set by the new commissioner, it intends to work alongside the Commission, exploring how language proficiency can best be attained and monitored in general and vocational education, through language curricula and assessment linked to the CEFR for comparability purposes, and how to make schools more inclusive by acknowledging migrant languages in multilingual spaces and exploring how to view these languages as resources rather than impediments. Last but not least, the CSPM hopes to further support the right of EU citizens to have access to information, ideas and works of art through translation. 

 

Biography of Prof. Bessie Dendrinos

Bessie Dendrinos is Professor at the Faculty of English, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Her areas of expertise are language politics and policies in the European Union, foreign language pedagogy, curriculum, syllabus and materials development, as well as language testing. Her keen interest in socially accountable applied linguistics has also led her to investigate linguistically construed gender ideology, the linguistic representation of poverty and the bureaucratic discourse in Greek public documents. A book she co-authored in 2003, The Hegemony of English (Paradigm Publishers), won the American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award, and was then translated in Spanish, Portuguese and Greek. Since 2003, she has devoted much of her time to developing a foreign language examination suite for six languages providing the certification on the 6-level scale of the Council of Europe, known by its Greek acronym as KPG. In 2004 she founded and has since been directing the Research Centre for Language Teaching, Testing and Assessment (RCeL) of the University of Athens (http://rcel.enl.uoa.gr). Since 2010, she has been responsible for a major innovation in foreign language teaching in Greece and the execution of two multidimensional projects, co-funded by the European Union and the Greek state, regarding Early Language Learning and new multilingual curricula for foreign language teaching and learning in Greek schools. 

ALTE European Publishers Council Federation of European Publishers
Fundación Academia Europea de Yuste European Council of Literary Translators' Associations EEE-YFU
EUROCLIO Club de Madrid European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education (ECSWE)
Europa Esperanto Unio - EEU Mercator European Network of Language Diversity Centres European Council of Artists (ECA)
Culturelink European Association for Terminology European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA)
Eurolang RECIT European Theatre Convention
Literature Across frontiers European Federation for Intercultural Learning European Federation of National Institutions for Language
CMFE (Community Media Forum Europe) European Forum of Vocational Education and Training European Coordination of Independent Producers (CEPI)
Federal Union of European Nationalities Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) EUNIC in Brussels

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In the long term I think that being multilingual is of great importance to understanding why other people from different countries act differently.

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