Context

With regard to plurilingualism and its recognition as an important feature of contemporary society, to language variation and the various forms this can take in European regional contexts, it is noticeable that teachers are not only often little prepared to deal with this, but also their work is seldom given value to when they try to elaborate strategies to understand and value the varieties or languages their pupils speak, when those are not the official or dominant school norm.
Putting such practices forward, as well as those teachers who implement them seems to us to be a priority, since such initiatives have to do with such essential issues as social cohesion and European citizenship (including also North/South relationships).
Those languages and language varieties are multifold, and vary according to contexts: regional languages, community, heritage or minority languages, immigration languages. Their role is often underestimated in countries where they have no official recognition.
The term 'collateral languages' used by Eloy (2001) seems particularly appropriate in the case of minority languages that are genetically and typologically close the dominant state language with which they find themselves in a diglossic situation. This concerns Scots with English as well as Catalan with French and Spanish in France, Occitan and Corsican with French, French and Francoprovençal with Italian in the Val d'Aoste. Building on the concept, one might talk of 'bridge languages' insofar as they can be used as bridges towards genetically close languages (Romance languages, Germanic languages) but also towards geographically close languages as well as towards immigration languages.
Even though our project is based on clearly identified contexts in Western Europe, our results will be equally applicable to other contexts, in particular in the new countries of the European Union, where multilingual societies are common in configurations that make the situations very interesting. Individual plurilingualism in terms of repertoires also contributes to the interest we will be able to take in such situations. Despite the differences in terms of sociolinguistic contexts, many features, preoccupations and didactic possibilities can be common to the various minority languages of the European Union and Council of Europe countries. Plurilingualism and consideration towards neighbouring languages is a commun European objective. Several contexts could thus be integrated and activities could easily be adapted. We are thinking about Sorbian, a Slavic language in Germany, Kashubian in Poland or the situations where Hungarian and Romanian come into contact. We will also not forget the various contexts where German, Romani, Italian are spoken in Eastern Europe.                                               
Our project shares many theoretical and practical considerations with other works on plurilingualism and may constitute a logical continuation of the following projects: Ja-ling (ECML 1.2.1 and Comenius C2.1), the LEA, VALEUR, ALC (ECML 2004-2007) projects. It also follows the guidelines of the Guide for the Development of Language Education Policies in Europe (2007), points 1 and 3: developing plurilingual and pluricultural education but also plurilingual teaching.  

Our project will add a new dimension to previous works since it allows for bi-/plurilingualism to build on European minority languages. It will enable teachers to develop competences to analyse the diversity of their own linguistic environment and to use those languages as tools towards better European social and linguistic integration.

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