Palma, 24th November

NPLD - Coppieters Campus 2021

Immersion education: exploring what works in linguistically diverse contexts across Europe

Immersion education is a pedagogical model in which students receive their subject-matter instruction through the medium of a target language. In bilingual communities where a dominant state language coexists with territorial, indigenous, small-state, or unique minority or regional languages, the target language may belong to the second group.

The goal of the immersion model is to ensure that the regional language is present in the schooling system, while guaranteeing the learning of the majority language. This model has been praised by numerous international experts and organizations, such as the Commission’s High-Level Group on Multilingualism, the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues.

Immersion Education is applied in different regions of Europe such as Wales, Catalonia, or the Basque Country, and coexists with other plurilingual education models, predominantly with the Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) methodology. It has been considered as an exemplary model which guarantees full, functional bilingualism, both in the majority and the minority language without segregating students in language terms.

Furthermore, immersion education model enables children to acquire sufficient linguistic competences in the two languages -the dominant and the minority language- which allow them to use the language of their choice after finishing school. If the school system fails to provide students full command of the two languages, that would result in a curtailment of children’s future opportunities and a limitation of their freedom to choose the language in which they wish to communicate as they become adults.

Recently, however, a sharp debate has emerged regarding the application of this model in some European countries, notably in France and Spain. Too often, arguments against the language immersion model are based on purely ideological grounds and use unbiased, partisan, and inaccurate data. All this has contributed to create confusion over the scope and the implications of this model.

In this Campus, we intend to shed some light on this debate by providing the participants with the necessary data that will certainly be useful for a better account of the language immersion model in education.

Organizer Committee

The Organizer Committee of this year’s edition of the NPLD-Coppieters Campus is composed of Bethan Webb (Government of Wales), Araceli Díaz de Lezana (Government of the Basque Country), Vicent Climent (Government of Catalonia), Fulup Jakez (Breton Language Office), Gabriele Zanello (University of Udine), Beatriu Defior (the Balearic Islands) and Inaki Irazabalbeitia (Coppieters Foundation).

About the campus

The NPLD-Coppieters Campus is a biennial event jointly organised by the Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity and the Coppieters Foundation after the summer break.

The NPLD-Coppieters Campus aims to be a meeting place for reflection and exchange of ideas among governments, policy makers, practitioners, researchers and experts from all over Europe working in the field of language policy and planning for Constitutional, Regional and Small-State Languages across Europe.

The Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity (NPLD) is a European wide network whose main goal is to raise awareness at a European level on the vital importance of linguistic diversity. NPLD includes governments both national and regional, universities and associations as its members.

Coppieters Foundation is a think tank focusing on European affairs. It develops new ideas and produces knowledge on the management of cultural and linguistic diversity, collective and minority rights, multi-level governance, decentralization, state and constitutional reform, statehood processes, self-determination, migration, peace studies and the protection of human rights in Europe.

Conference Programme

Wednesday, 24 November

08.15-08.45 Registration

 08.45-09.15 Opening words

Jaume Carot, University of the Balearic Islands | Rector

Inaki Irazabalbeitia, Coppieters Foundation | Member of the Bureau

Agustina Vilaret, Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity |Chair

Miquel Company, Government of the Balearic Islands | Regional-Minister for European funds, University & Culture

 09.15-10.00 Keynote speech: Comparing the aims and outcomes of European minority language education

Durk Gorter, Ikerbasque Research Professor & UPV/EHU

You can read and download his presentation here.

 10.00-10.45 The international debates on the language immersion system

Agustina Vilaret, Government of the Balearic Islands & NPLD Chair

Miren Dobaran, Government of the Basque Country

Vicent Climent, Government of Catalonia

 10.45-11.15 Coffee break

 11.15-11.45 Panel I: 50 years of bilingual teaching in France: educational achievement and institutional uncertainty

Fulup Jakez, Office Public de la Langue Bretonne

You can read and download his presentation here.

 11.45-12.15 Panel II: Integrating migrants through language immersion models

11.45- 12.00 The case of Catalonia

Clara Prades,  Government of Catalonia

You can read and download her presentation here.

 12.00 -12.15 The case of Finland

Christina Gestrin, Folktinget

You can read and download her speech here.

 12.15-12.30 Presentation of the video “Immersion Education”

Estibaliz Alkorta, Government of the Basque Country

Watch the video here.

12.30-13.30 Lunch break

 13.30-14.45 Panel III: Other language education models: empirical results

13.30-13.45 Wales: late immersion

Dafydd Trystan, Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol

You can read and download his presentation here.

13.45-14.00 Slovenian language education in Italy

Maja Mezgec, Slovenski Raziskovalni Inštitut

You can read and download her presentation here.

 14.00-14.15 Ireland and the Gaeltach

Sean Ó Coinn, Foras Na Gaeilge.

You can read and download his presentation here.

14.15-14.30 Education and languages in Galicia

Valentín García Gómez, Government of Galicia

You can read and download his presentation here.

 14.30-14.45 The Valencian case

Marc Jiménez, Government of Valencia

You can read and download his presentation here.

14.45-15.00 Coffee break

15.00-15.45 Open discussion: Languages in the education system. Future directions and perspectives

Kristina Cunningham, European Commission

Jarmo Lainio, Committee of Experts of the ECRML

Johan Häggman, FUEN

William Cisilino, Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity

MODERATOR: Inaki Irazabalbeitia, Coppieters Foundation

 15.45-16.00 Closing words

Inaki Irazabalbeitia, Coppieters Foundation | Member of the Bureau

Agustina Vilaret, Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity |Chair

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