Empowering Linguistic Diversity: Conference on Heritage Language Learners and Second Language Pupils

31. 7. 2023

Empowering Linguistic Diversity: Conference on Heritage Language Learners and Second Language Pupils

The promotion of plurilingualism and linguistic diversity has always been a crucial goal of the European Union. In alignment with these objectives, the Charles University 4EU+ mini-grant along with support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic, and the Czech National Agency, funded an innovative project focused on educating heritage language learners and pupils learning a second language.

The conference of the Institute of Czech and Deaf Studies at Charles University in Prague on 13 and 14 July 2023 served as a platform for showcasing this collaborative initiative. Led by esteemed researchers and educators from Charles University, Sorbonne University, University of Milan, the University of Geneva, University of Warsaw, and the external partner University of Iceland, this project aimed to address the differences in approaches to language education.

The conference kicked off with insightful presentations on the principles guiding the development of children's and young people's heritage languages. Experts delved into the importance of linguistic human rights and plurilingualism, emphasizing how these principles are integral to shaping national and European language policies. Participants gained valuable insights into the significance of preserving linguistic heritage and fostering respect for human rights through inclusive education.

The second day of the conference featured presentations of pilot studies conducted in the Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, and Iceland, each exploring linguistic support for heritage language learners. The participating countries shared their findings and approaches, demonstrating the collaborative nature of the project. The exchange of ideas and experiences allowed for a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by heritage language learners and how effective support mechanisms could be implemented.

The conference not only brought attention to the issues faced by heritage language learners but also provided a platform for knowledge exchange and networking. Participants left the event with new insights, innovative strategies, and strengthened connections within the educational and linguistic research community.

This project on educating heritage language learners marks a significant milestone in the pursuit of plurilingualism and linguistic diversity. The conference held at Charles University aimed to foster collaboration, share knowledge, and advance our understanding of effective language education approaches. Through such collaborative efforts, we can work towards a future where linguistic diversity is celebrated and cherished, contributing to the holistic development of the human personality, as envisioned by the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights.