EU Languagepages

Important legal notice
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Language Learning

Higher education learners

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Higher education institutions do much to promote language learning and develop multilingualism, both in individuals and more broadly in society. As well as specific language courses, language training is made available to students from all disciplines as part of their course or as an extra-curricular activity.

Universities and colleges also play a central role in international student exchanges, which foster both language learning and greater cultural awareness. The benefits of language learning for students include both professional advantages and personal development.


What is the EU doing to help?

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The EU funds the Erasmus student exchange programme which enables universities in different countries to co-operate, boosts European mobility and improves the transparency and recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. each university should implement a coherent language policy clarifying its role in promoting language learning and linguistic diversity
  2. university language policies should include explicit actions to promote the national or regional language
  3. all students should study abroad, preferably in a foreign language, for at least one term, and should gain an accepted language qualification as part of their degree course

An EU-funded project, the “European Network for the Promotion of Language Learning Amongst all Undergraduates (ENLU)” demonstrated the need for a permanent European framework for promoting language learning amongst undergraduate students.

The HELP network (Higher Education Language Policy) is now being established under the auspices of the independent European Language Council (ELC). It will gather organisations with a stake in language learning at undergraduate level to develop co-operation and exchange initiatives.

HELP aims to ensure that universities enable students to:

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  1. communicate in at least two foreign languages
  2. have the confidence and know-how to improve their language skills, including learning new languages, in the future
  3. gain experience of working in or with other countries and other cultures