Commission launches public consultation on language learning

December 12, 2002

Brussels, 11 December 2002

Ten years of significant investment by the European Union in schemes to promote language learning and linguistic diversity culminated in the highly successful European Year of Languages in 2001. The Year generated a great deal of enthusiasm for language learning across Europe.

It made more citizens aware of the benefits of having foreign language skills and gave rise to a wide range of initiatives across Europe at local, regional and national level. The European Commission is determined to ensure that the momentum is maintained.

With a view to giving further impetus to these wide-ranging efforts, the Commission intends to publish an Action Plan in the summer of 2003. The Commission has launched a consultation exercise to draw together the views of a wide section of European society. It is seeking inspiration from language teachers, language learners, decision-makers and all those active in the field on ways to improve language learning and promote linguistic diversity in Europe.

Three key areas have been defined:

  • improving and extending life-long language learning,
  • making foreign language teaching better and
  • creating a more language-friendly environment.

    The discussion document (SEC(2002)1234) is now available in all the official languages on the Europa server at

    along with background information on the European Union's language promotion activities. The consultation itself takes the form of an on-line questionnaire focussing on the most effective ways for the European Union to achieve a Europe of Languages. Responses to the seven key questions raised must be submitted by 31 January 2003 at the latest.

    The European Council meeting in Barcelona in March 2002 set a clear strategic goal: to improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early age. In launching the public consultation process, the Commission is eliciting the help of European citizens in taking up this challenge.

    Contact: Dorothy Senez, Telephone:(32-2) 2956436,

    DN: IP/02/1841 Date: 11/12/2002


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