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Early language teaching
The idea behind early language teaching is to promote European multilingualism by promoting the early teaching of European Union languages, while maintaining Europe's cultural and linguistic diversity.
Council Resolution of 16 December 1997 on the early teaching of European Union languages [Official Journal C 1 of 03.01.1998].
The White Paper "Teaching and learning: towards the learning society" advocates proficiency in three EU languages for every European citizen.
The early learning of one or more languages in addition to one's mother tongue(s) may contribute to achieving this objective since flexibility and receptiveness are greatest at a young age.
The integration of learning and increased awareness of this kind into compulsory schooling would also enable all pupils to have access to it.
The Council calls upon the Member States:
- to encourage the early teaching of languages and diversify the languages taught;
- to encourage cooperation between schools providing this type of education and foster pupils' virtual mobility and, if possible, their physical mobility;
- to promote the continuous provision of teaching of several languages;
- to increase awareness among all those involved, particularly parents, of the benefits of early language learning;
- to develop and distribute the most suitable teaching materials, including multimedia resources;
- to prepare teachers working in the field of early language teaching to meet these new needs.
The Council invites the Commission to support measures taken by the Member States to achieve the above objectives and to promote early language teaching within the framework of existing Community programmes:
- by providing support for measures aimed at strengthening European cooperation and measures for disseminating and exchanging experience and good practice;
- by promoting transnational cooperation in the development of teaching materials and means of evaluation;
- by supporting the distribution of suitable, high-quality teaching materials via European networks;
- by supporting measures aimed at increasing teacher mobility and at updating and improving the skills required to teach languages to pupils at an early age;
- by fostering cooperation between teacher training institutions;
- by encouraging contacts between pupils, in particular by means of virtual mobility.
The Commission is also invited to bear early language teaching in mind when considering future cooperation in the field of education.