[lg policy] calls: Multilingualism in Lithuania

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 30 14:29:10 UTC 2010

Multilingualism in Lithuania

Eglė Šleinotienė, President Lietuvos kalbų pedagogų asociacija,
specially for BC, 29.09.2010.

What does real life look like in Lithuania? Ministry of Education and
Science, most secondary schools, colleges and universities, adult
learning institutions have developed their language policy and
strategy. Numbers illustrate positive trends.

“Europe is not only a market for economic goods, but also values for
culture. In the value system, culture ranks above economy. The economy
is indispensible to life and culture makes our lives worth
living.”(Jose-Manuel Barroso, President of the EU Commission).

Joint meeting on Multilingualism for business and employability
organized 23 September 2010 attracted a large group of professionals
from education and businesses and developed the ideas mentioned above.
During the European language Day celebration in Brussels Androulla
Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture,
Multilingualism and Youth, emphasized that learning foreign languages
improves job prospects. Multilingualism is the passport to a larger
world of opportunity and helps in opening people's minds to the
different cultures and history, which is an integral part of Europe's

Increasing immigration, mobility, global marketing and trade need to
be addressed by educational systems in the three Baltic States. In
Lithuania we do a lot to teach for multicultural understanding in
multicultural environment, as well we think about our own culture,
nation and try to promote the Lithuanian language. Multilingualism
expands and promotes diversity, understanding and appreciation of the
new languages of the united and diverse Europe. For small nations it
is vital to learn English, German and French, but it is not enough.
English may be the language of business throughout the world, but we
miss a lot if we do not use the local language and do not think about
languages of local minorities. Keeping one’s face, preserving identity
is hard work. Less widely-used languages, languages of countries we
have borders with, give access to information and knowledge of the
world we face. Mastery of at least 2 languages is vital for Europe’s
economic competitiveness and prosperity.

But what does real life look like in Lithuania? Ministry of Education
and Science, most secondary schools, colleges and universities, adult
learning institutions have developed their language policy and
strategy. Numbers illustrate positive trends. In 2009/2010 61.9 % of
secondary school pupils studied English, 7.4%- German, 1.8- French,
28.7% Russian, 0.02- Polish, 0.04% Italian, 0.06-Spanish and 0.03%
other languages.

7.2% of our schools organise educational process in languages of local
minorities. Each pupil in our secondary level on average studies 1.4
languages. But language teaching and learning at colleges and
universities sometimes depend on the support of the management level
of a faculty and the budget available. Adult and long life language
learning systems are often influenced by financial situation in the
country, usually during the recession less funds are available.

I strongly believe that in Lithuania we need to achieve better results
in development of personal qualities of the individual we teach. Here
languages play a vital role.  Our younger generation, professionals in
education, teachers and even representatives of business are not
always very good at problem solving, strategic planning, decision
making, communications and willingness to assume responsibility,
ability to cooperate and do useful networking. In order to be
competitive in Europe and world we need to encourage personal
initiative and creativity, as well as being prepared to confront risks
in conjunction with implementing ideas. These are typical
entrepreneurial qualities we do not pay enough attention at school,
college and university.  We do not have any research results, but it
is evident that in Lithuania a significant amount of businesses is
being lost as a result of lack of language skills as it was mentioned
during the meeting in Brussels and “ELAN: Effects on the European
Economy of Shortages of Foreign Language Skills in Enterprise”
research study performed by CILT (www.cilt.org.uk)

Lietuvos Kalbų Pedagogų Asociacija (LKPA) I represent tries to promote
innovative language teaching/ learning ideas in Lithuania. It was
founded in December 2006 with the aim of creating links between
existing language associations, universities, schools and language
centres. Today, the association has 7 institutional members and more
than 100 individual members, all of whom are teachers of the most
frequently taught languages in Lithuania, English, German, French and
Italian. The Association's purpose is to represent the needs of
languages teachers, of teaching institutions and of associations. LKPA
makes forceful proposals and recommendations to government and to
educational organisations about languages programmes and pedagogical
resources. The Association encourages creativity and innovation in the
field of language teaching. LKPA is a partner in international REAL2
and EUROLTA projects supported by the European Commission.


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