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ERIC Number: EJ954609
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Dec
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0020-8566
Multilingual Education for European Minority Languages: The Basque Country and Friesland
Gorter, Durk; Cenoz, Jasone
International Review of Education, v57 n5-6 p651-666 Dec 2011
Over the last three decades, regional minority languages in Europe have regained increased recognition and support. Their revitalisation is partly due to their being taught in schools. Multilingualism has special characteristics for speakers of minority languages and it poses unique challenges for learning minority languages. This article looks at the cases of Basque and Frisian, comparing and contrasting their similarities and differences. The educational system in the Basque Autonomous Community underwent an important transformation, starting in 1979 from a situation where less than 5 per cent of all teachers were capable of teaching through Basque. Today this figure has changed to more than 80 per cent. An innovative approach was chosen for teaching the minority language, Basque, alongside the dominant language, Spanish, and the international language, English. The outcome is a substantial increase in the proficiency in the minority language among the younger age groups. The decline of the minority language has thus been successfully reversed and one of the major challenges now is to uphold a sustainable educational system. By contrast, the Frisian language has fared less well in the Netherlands, where developments over the last 30 years have been much slower and the results more modest. Here policy-making for education and for language is caught in a continuous debate between a weak provincial level and a powerful central state level. Overall, multilingualism as a resource for individuals is valued for "bigger" languages such as English, French and German, but not for a "small" language such as Frisian. Nevertheless, a few trilingual experiments have been carried out in some schools in Friesland in teaching Frisian, Dutch and English. These experiments may also be instructive for other cases of minority languages of a "moderate strength". In the cases of both Basque and Frisian multilingualism is generally perceived as an important resource. (Contains 3 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Spain