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Multilingualism in Belgium: a Clash Between Politics and Cognition. Piet Van de Craen, Katja Lochtman, Katrien Mondt, Evy Ceuleers, Laure Allain & Barbara De Groot. Multilingualism in Belgium. The Context The political context A bit of history and … a bit of law

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multilingualism in belgium a clash between politics and cognition

Multilingualism in Belgium: a Clash Between Politics and Cognition

Piet Van de Craen, Katja Lochtman, Katrien Mondt, Evy Ceuleers, Laure Allain & Barbara De Groot

multilingualism in belgium
Multilingualism in Belgium
  • The Context
    • The political context
    • A bit of history and … a bit of law
    • Education as a regional matter
  • The Research Project
    • Linguistic aspects
    • Language pedagogical aspects
    • Social psychological aspects
    • Neurolinguistic and neurocognitive aspects
    • Economic aspects
the context
The Context
  • Politically: Belgium is a near federal state with
      • three communities (one German-speaking, one French-speaking and one Dutch-speaking);
      • three regions (Wallonia, Flanders, Brussels);
      • four language areas (one German, one French, one Dutch, one officially bilingual);
      • seven governments...
a bit of history
A Bit of History...
  • In 19th century Belgium, according to the Constitution, language use was free; in practice this meant that French was the sole language that mattered.
  • Between 1840-1950 the Flemish Movement undertook actions to ‘dutchify’ higher education, the army and administration in Dutch-speaking Belgium.
  • In 1963 a number of language laws were voted...
and a bit of law
…and a bit of law
  • Belgian language laws relating to language learning and teaching:
    • in Wallonia and Flanders: second language learning starts in grade 5, age 11;
    • in Brussels: it starts in grade 3, age 9.
  • Since 1963 no changes have taken place. But:
    • 1998: in Wallonia le Décret Onkelinx, allowing primary schools to organize enseignement du type immersif;
    • 2004: in Flanders: a decree on language initiation that makes the law of 1963 compulsory.
education as a regional matter
Education as a regional matter
  • Wallonia: enseignement du type immersif (50 -80% of the curriculum), 51 primary schools in 2004-2005, popular success, high social demand, yet schools keep low profile… results are good, problems with teachers and teaching material. Languages: Dutch, English, German.
  • Brussels: 3 CLIL oriented primary Dutch-speaking schools with mixed population started in 2001; results are good, different subject-matter is taught in French for +/- 20% of the curriculum. Languages: Dutch and French.
the research project introduction 1
The Research Project: Introduction 1
  • General hypotheses: CLIL will positively affect
    • language proficiency in both Dutch and French but other languages will also be affected...
    • language pedagogical thinking and, hopefully, this approach will entail new ways of teaching foreign languages…
    • social psychological aspects of both teachers and pupils such as attitudes and motivation…
    • neurocognitive aspects of the brain in the sense that multilingual brains are considered ‘better brains’…
    • economic aspects such as well-being and job market success since multilingualism is a core value in Belgian society albeit not officially supported by educational authorities.
the research project introduction 2
The Research Project: Introduction 2
  • Studies in Wallona and Brussels
    • Wallonia: homogeneous group of French-speaking pupils
    • Brussels: three groups can be distinguished:
      • Dutch-speakers: usually the minority;
      • French-speakers: usually the majority;
      • other language speakers : ‘traditional’ migrant languages, Moroccan, Berber, Turkish but also African languages, Kurdish, Spanish, …
      • remark: some are false French speakers, some are bilingual (Dutch-French) or have other combinations of languages… some are trilingual, in other words: heterogeneous groups...
the research project introduction 3
The Research Project: Introduction 3
  • The sociolinguistic context of Wallonia:
    • French-speaking;
    • in the past less attention was paid to foreign language learning;
    • relatively small cities and municipalities
  • The sociolinguistic context of Brussels:
    • officially a French-Dutch bilingual city;
    • dominantly French-speaking;
    • in fact, largest French-speaking city of Belgium;
    • capital of Europe: enormous amount of languages around
conclusion
Conclusion...
  • Politically there is a lot apprehensiveness towards CLIL or CLIL like initiatives.
  • Yet, there is a lot of social demand.
  • There are some signs that the situation will improve:
    • the existence of a parent’s organization (TIBEM);
    • the debate has finally started;
    • as research results are coming in… time is on our side….