European Universities Network on Multilingualism (EUNOM) Final Conference

European Universities Network on Multilingualism
Globalization, Modernity and Knowledge. Opportunities and
Challenges in a Multilingual world
Final Conference
European Parliament
Brussels, October 18th 2012
How to Become Multilingual and Stay
Healthy …
Piet Van de Craen
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
European Language Council/Conseil européen pour les langues
[email protected]
Piet Van de Craen1
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
How to Become Multilingual and Stay Healthy...
0. Abstract
In this contribution two questions are addressed namely what is the influence of
policy on multilingual education and what is the impact of multilingual education on
practices? By multilingual education is meant content and language integrated
learning or CLIL. This paper is organized in two parts. The first one studies the
influence on policy on multilingual education on a European macro level and societal
level. The second part studies the impact of multilingual education on practice by
researching the results of multilingual schooling at primary and secondary level by
means of a number of tenets that include linguistic and non-linguistic ones. Current
scientific research has mainly focussed on aspects of language education while here
the idea that learning in another language has a major influence on a number of
factors that eventually create better learners is argued. In this way this approach is,
first, a contribution to the advantages of multilingualism and, second, a plea for
educational innovation via language education. Finally, a number of theoretical
pathways are identified to open the way toward a new educational paradigm.
1. Introduction
1.1. Research questions
What are the political aspects that influence the implementation of multilingual
education, i.e. content and language integrated learning (CLIL), in Europe in general
and in Belgium in particular and, in what way multilingual education has an addedvalue vis-à-vis the learners in secondary education? These are the research questions
addressed here. The parts to be distinguished in this contribution relating to the
influence of policy on multilingual education are, first, the examination of parameters
in selected European countries that have influenced the introduction of multilingual
education in Europe and, second, the results of the implementation of multilingual
education in a number of schools, primary and secondary, one vocational as well as
an elite school. Finally, it is suggested that the basis for a new educational paradigm
precisely lies in the introduction of multilingual education in the European school
system and officially called CLIL, i.e. content and language integrated learning.
1.2. Positioning of research questions
In recent years scientific research related to CLIL has been booming (cf. in
alphabetical order: Cenoz 2009, Coyle et al. 2010, Dalton-Puffer 2008, Gorter & van
der Meer 2008, Jäppinen 2005, Lasagabaster & Ruiz de Zarobe 2010, Lecocq et al.
Part of the research presented here was sponsored by the Sixth Framework Programma DYLAN. I am
grateful to my colleagues Jill Surmont, Evy Ceuleers, Laure Allain, Katrien Mondt and Esli Struys who
collaborated with me at various stages of the on-going project as well as to the Dylan colleagues for
their comments. For Dylan see
2008, Linares et al. 2012, Lorenzo et al. 2009, Maljers et al. 2007, Mondt 2005, Van
de Craen et al. 2007a, b, 2008, 2009) to name but a few. One important result that has
come out of these studies is that CLIL is shown, over and over again, to have a
beneficial effect on the learning outcomes of children be it in primary or in secondary
school. Some authors have tried to go even further. They have demonstrated a
positive cognitive effect that can boost learning (Jäppinen 2005, Van de Craen et al.
2007a, b 2008 and Lorenzo et al. 2009, Murray 2010) and some of them even studied
brain effects related to multilingual education (Mondt et al. 2011). However, these
latter authors form a minority among CLIL researchers, as the study of cognition and
the brain is often left aside. We explicitly pursued this path in order to demonstrate
the power that multilingual education engenders.
However, education never appears in a vacuum. In every European member-state it is
high on the political agenda but in some member-states multilingualism is frowned
upon often for ideological reasons that completely ignore learning. While this fear is
totally unwarranted it is sometimes far from easy to convince educational authorities
of the benefits of multilingual education.
2. Analytical framework
2.1. Macro and micro research
We analysed, first, some European educational policies in order to identify parameters
that might hamper or foster multilingual education and, second, an analysis of
learning results was carried out in primary and secondary bilingual schools (Dutch
and French), one being a vocational school, and one being an elite school, teaching in
Dutch and English. The analysis originally focussed on six tenets, namely (i)
knowledge of the target language, (ii) knowledge of the mother tongue, (iii)
knowledge of subject matter, (iv) attitudes and motivation, (v) cognition and (vi) the
influence on the brain 2.
3. Results
3.1. Results with reference to the influence of policies on multilingual education
3.1.1. Influence of policies regarding multilingual education in six selected
With respect to study the influence of policies regarding multilingual education we
identified four key concepts that influence language policies in Europe. A summary of
our findings is given below with respect to The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg,
France, Estonia and Spain.
(i) Standardization
Countries that underwent early standardization are likely to be strong economically
and culturally confident. This is the case for The Netherlands and France. Their
       
     
       
    
standardization processes can be traced back to the 17th century and - in the case of
France – even earlier. The same is true for Spanish, i.e. the Castilian dialect. However,
regions and countries like Dutch-speaking Belgium, Luxembourg, Estonia and
Germany underwent late standardization starting in the 19th century or later. With
respect to multilingual education our hypothesis is that in countries with a long history
of standardization multilingual education find a fertile ground.
(ii) Language Threat
The second major variable that plays a role in the implementation of European policies
regarding multilingualism is the threat - or the perceived threat - a language has
encountered throughout history. It is clear that, more often than not, big countries
rarely are under threat. Smaller countries easily perceive linguistic threats. In Dutchspeaking Belgium, there has been the perceived threat – rightly or wrongly - of
French, in Estonia, the threat of Russian, in Luxembourg, the threat of both German
and French. An exception is The Netherlands, independent since the 17th century,
where language threat never has been an issue. Germany seems a special case in the
sense that its current status in Europe, given the numbers of speakers estimated at 120
million, does not represent its real power. With respect to multilingual education our
hypothesis is that countries that perceive threats to their language will put up more
resistance towards the implementation of multilingual education.
(iii). Language dominance
Closely related to the previous is the notion of dominance. Here again bigger countries
are more dominating than others. France and Spain again stand out. However, the
notion of dominance should also be seen in a local or regional context. Dutch is clearly
a dominant language in The Netherlands and German in Germany. In smaller regions
or countries, things are often unclear: in Luxembourg, Letzebürgisch is not necessarily
perceived as the dominant language. The same is true for Estonia, although these
countries often try to install some kind of protective legislation in their favour. With
respect to multilingual education our hypothesis is that countries with users of
dominant languages should, in principle, be more inclined to be more open to
multilingual education.
(iv) Language legislation
The fourth parameter is related to legislation. Big countries have not necessarily less
legislation. An example is France where a lot of resistance against the regional
languages has led to complicated legislation to hamper their development. On the
other end of the continuum there is The Netherlands with hardly any history of
language legislation. In some cases, like in Spain, Dutch-speaking Belgium and
Estonia legislation is closely related to political developments. The hypothesis is that
regarding multilingual education, the more language legislation is part of the
landscape, the more resistance against European policies can be found.
The next table summarizes the previous.
language threat
Acceptance of
Heavy before,
much lighter
Before, very
Very reluctantly
Table 1: Parameters influencing acceptance of multilingual education in one region and six countries in
From the above interesting inferences can be made. European policies have a fertile
ground in countries where the language has known (1) early standardization, (2) no
language threats (3) dominant status and (4) light legislation. The optimal case is The
Netherlands. The contrary, i.e. when the language (1) had late standardization, (2)
perceives threats, (3) is or feels dominated and (4) lives under heavy legislation
multilingual education encounters resistance to implementation. The optimal case
here is Flanders.
This situation can of course evolve rapidly. Two examples should be mentioned. In
French-speaking Belgium, Wallonia, that followed France’s policies until the end of
the 1990s, the same resistance toward multilingualism as in France could be
perceived. However, the 1998 decree making it possible for individual schools to opt
for a content and language integrated learning path3 changed the landscape
tremendously. The second example is even more recent. Since Castilian and
Andalusian regional legislators published their European inspired language plans in
2005 (cf. Plan 2005) an increasing amount of pupils has been following multilingual
education just as in the Catalan, Basque and Galician regions. Since then tens of
thousands of children have been exposed to CLIL in regions where before Castilian
reigned supremely (cf. Lasagabaster & Ruiz de Zarobe 2010).
Compared to Spain, France still seems to struggle with its Jacobinian past.
Multilingual education has not yet found its way into mainstream education and, as a
result, France is seriously lagging behind compared to Spain and the Netherlands.
Dutch-speaking Belgium, Luxembourg and Estonia are now at the crossroads. If
legislation were to change supporting CLIL education these regions/countries could
easily be back on track again, given their tradition of language learning. The latest
development in Flanders is that the new language plan from 2011 will allow CLIL
under certain conditions in secondary education.
In Wallonia this is known as enseignement de type immersif
3.1.2. Conclusion
The analysis of the Flemish language plan shows how multilingual education can be
hampered by a number of historical variables. The overview of six European countries
demonstrates that four parameters play an important role in implementing European
policies. However, as the example of Spain shows, it is possible to overcome this.
What is needed is political will and a vision of what modern Europe should look like.
3.2. Results with reference to the influence of multilingual education on practice
Six tenets were used to guide the research (i) how does CLIL influence target
language knowledge, (ii) how does CLIL influence mother tongue development, (iii)
does CLIL influence subject matter knowledge, (iv) does multilingualism affect
attitudes and motivation, and (v) does multilingualism affect cognitive development
and finally, (vi) what if anything is the influence of multilingual education on brain
organisation? These tenets will be discussed below.
1. The influence on the target language development?
As might be expected, the extra exposure to the new language has a positive effect on
the development of the target language. Surprising however, is the extent to which it
has an effect. The results from Lorenzo et al. (2009) show that the interaction
between implicit and explicit learning offered in CLIL-programmes yields much
better results than traditional education. Research by Clachar (1999) and Butler &
Hakuta (2004) has demonstrated that pupils have an increased accuracy when their
production is focused on discourse topics that engage student’s attention due to the
contextual significance.
The advantage for pupils in a CLIL-learning programme is obvious. Comparing L2
acquisition with L1 acquisition, it seems that in both cases a stimulating environment
helps to achieve better accuracy. Pupils in these programmes are also able to transfer
their knowledge, as they use rhetorical moves and discourse patterns in L2, which are
typical for academic discourse but which are not present in primary or early
secondary L2 syllabi (Lorenzo et al. 2009). This means that pupils seem to understand
without explicit grammar instruction, how certain forms are used. The reason is that
linguistic metacognition is much better developed than in regular pupils (Surmont,
2011). These results are in line with findings by Van de Craen et al. (2007a & b,
2009) who found not only better results for general proficiency in the target language
but also that pupils were less anxious to use the language because pupils’ pragmatic
skills are better developed.
2. The influence on mother tongue development?
The fear of losing the mother tongue is often used as an argument against the
implementation of multilingual education. However, research has proven differently:
research by De Samblanc (2006), Lecocq et al. (2007), & De Vriese (2007) show that
in the Dutch/French primary schools in Wallonia, pupils have no problem attaining
the final goals in their mother tongue (French), despite the fact that they received 75%
of their education in Dutch. No arguments can be found to show that CLIL is
detrimental to the development of the mother tongue. In the secondary schools we
studied mother tongue loss was not an issue. Teachers had the impression that both
the target language and the mother tongue were fostered (cf. Van de Craen et al.,
This results are in line with the findings of international research showing that
students in multilingual education programmes achieved the same score or an even
better one than their fellow students in traditional programmes on mother tongue
proficiency (Cummins & Swain, 1986, Hamers & Blanc, 2000, Johnstone, 2002b;
Goorhuis-Brouwer & De Bot, 2005; Coyle, 2007, Knell et al., 2007, Mehisto &
Asser, 2007, Merisuo-Storm, 2007, Serra, 2007 and Dalton-Puffer, 2008). These
scholars, however, do mention that in the first years of multilingual education, the
proficiency of the mother tongue seems to lag behind but that this is made up for after
a few years.
Learning in another language is beneficial for mother tongue development. This can
be explained in a very logical way. The comparison with learning how to play an
instrument can be used here. A child who plays piano may have better piano skills
after one year of practice than another child learning to play both the piano and the
guitar. However, after a certain period of time, the difference between the two
children – if there is one - will have disappeared and the child who has mastered two
instruments will have a much better ear for music and a better understanding of music
in general. It has developed better metacognition for music. The same reasoning can
be applied to children learning one or more languages. This is also why mother
tongue development benefits from learning a second language, even though less time
will be spent on learning the mother tongue itself.
3 Does CLIL influence subject matter knowledge?
Research by Jäppinen (2005) and Van de Craen et al. (2007b, 2009) has shown that
the influence of CLIL on subject matter knowledge is positive. Van de Craen et al.
(2007b) performed a study on the knowledge of maths in a CLIL primary school
context and found better results for CLIL pupils. This is in line with the findings by
Jäppinen (2005). She had three different age groups do four types of mathematical
tests. She found that in the first age group, there were no statistical differences
between the CLIL-pupils and the control group, implying that the CLIL-environment
does not hamper the mathematical thinking processes of this age group. In the second
age group however, the differences between the control group and the CLIL-pupils
were statistically significant in favour of the CLIL-pupils in three of the four subtests.
This difference between the control group and the CLIL-pupils was interpreted as
resulting from a different - what she calls - cognitional development. In the third age
group, these differences were gone and no statistical differences could be found
between the two groups (Jäppinen, 2005, see also Surmont 2011).
These results are confirmed by our research in primary as well as in secondary
schools in Brussels and Flanders that has been conducted on the effects of CLIL. One
school even reports that the CLIL-learners score 10% higher than the learners in
control groups. Teachers often report that not only the content is mastered better but
also that concepts and terminology are better understood.
4. Does multilingual education influence attitudes and motivation
How CLIL influences attitudes and motivation is best shown with results of the
vocational school in Hasselt, Limburg. This particular group of students are taught in
Dutch and French as part of a CLIL project. In fact they are taught practical kitchen
skills in French for two hours a week. These children are 12 to 13 years old and are
mostly from lower class origins. The fact that they were taught in French made them
quickly realize that something special was going on. They also embraced the idea
they were doing something completely different from other sections in school and
they were quick in labelling themselves as special. These pupils were also reported to
be happier and more collaborative than other groups in the same school. Their wellbeing and better school performance are a direct result of the CLIL approach and is
also reported elsewhere (cf. Merisuo-Storm 2007, Smit & Dalton-Puffer 2007). It is
easy to link this to a more creative approach because of their better mastery of the
language, the subject matter and the attitudinal aspects related to this (cf. Marsh et al.
5. Does multilingual education affect cognitive development
CLIL offers its students an extra cognitive value. Van de Craen et al. (2009) point out
that the main concern of studies pointing to positive effects of bilingualism is how
exactly bilingualism influences cognitive structures. The possibility to become fluent
in two or more languages and whether there is a predisposition to do so has a large
influence on the reception of educational programmes (Van de Craen et al., 2009). As
mentioned before, bilinguals have more advanced metalinguistic cognitive
capabilities; they also have better analytical skills and better cognitive control over
linguistic operations (Bialystok, 1988). Examples of how bilinguals have better
analytical skills are the results of a calibrated math tests performed by Van de Craen
et al. (2007b). Because students have a better understanding of abstract structures
they can easily transfer their knowledge and thinking processes to other kinds of
More research is needed in the area of cognition, because these results lead to more
research questions. However, the existing findings already indicate what can be
expected, namely that the cognitive advantage of CLIL cannot be denied.
(vi) Does multilingual education influence brain organisation?
An abundant amount of research by the Canadian scholar Bialystok (see Bialystok
1998, Bialystok et al. 2005, Bialystok 2005, Bialystok et al. 2006, 2012) has shown
that bilingualism has an effect on the brain of children as well as adults. Multilingual
education also has an effect on the brain of children even if they only have a relatively
limited learning experience in another language. This was convincingly shown by
Katrien Mondt’s dissertation, one of my team members. In a brain study under
scanning conditions she obtained the following results.
 
     
      
    
        
          
      
On these pictures it is clear to see how the workload in monolingual children, top row,
is extremely heavy as compared to bilingual children, mid row. The children who are
learning another language at school show, last row, show workload that is in between
the top row and the mid row, indicating that the workload has decreased with respect
to the monolinguals (see also Mondt at al. 2011).
This research shows how the brain is affected by learning experiences and education
can only profit from this. What it actually implies is beyond the scope of this
contribution but suffice it to say that the way languages are learnt, in this case via an
implicit learning strategy, has a considerable impact on brain organisation.
3.3. Conclusion
It can be concluded that the effects of CLIL are positive. The knowledge of the target
language is better and the development of the mother tongue is not hampered. Results
even indicate that the mother tongue is better mastered. Pupils have the feeling they
are doing something special and are more motivated at school. By allowing and using
French as an instruction language in certain situations, pupils feel proud and
respected. The better level of abstraction and the more developed metacognition of
the CLIL-pupils give them an advantage in cognitive development. This advantage is
also notable in brain research, as scans have shown that bilinguals have a more
automatized brain that solves certain problems more efficiently than a monolingual
brain (cf. Mondt et al. 2011). It has already been mentioned, but it cannot be repeated
enough: CLIL goes further than just another language learning programme and it is
certainly the path to follow for future education policies.
4. CLIL in two secondary schools
Two secondary schools out of nine, within an experimental set up by the Flemish
community, were selected for this project: (1) one highly profiled, elite school, in
Limburg in the eastern province of Belgium that worked with English (subject matter
mathematics and the philosophy) in a CLIL context from the age of 15, namely the
Stedelijke Humanoria Dilsen4 and (2) a vocational school in the city of Hasselt,
namely the Hotel School5 that worked with French from the age of 12. These schools
were part of an experimental set up organized by the Flemish Ministry, involving nine
Flemish CLIL schools in the period 2008-2010. Since then the Hotel School has quit
the CLIL project in 2011 while the other school still continues.
In this part we will report on the qualitative aspects of the experience carried out by
the researchers. Both schools will be discussed separately since they are both miles
apart in terms of pupils, aims and activities. We opted for a qualitative approach in
line with Fullan’s commentary on educational change (Olson 2007, Fullan 2011).
The Stedelijke Humaniora Dilsen.
This school can without any doubt be called an elite school in the sense that its
regular school has a 100% output to higher education. In 2007 the school decided to
take part in the CLIL experiment organized by the Flemish community in order to
find out about the CLIL approach advocated by the European Commission. Nine
Flemish schools were selected and this school was one of them. They opted for
English in mathematics and the human sciences according to the principles outlined in
the previous sections. The school also opted to start with pupils from 15 years old.
Since this project was closely followed by the Ministry of Education and since the
school was aware of our expertise and our tenets, results from the CLIL experience
came from two independent research groups, ours and the ministry one (see Ministry
The Ministry research concentrated on subject matter knowledge, knowledge of
Dutch and knowledge of the target language, while we concentrated on the same plus
attitudes and motivation and especially on cognitive aspects that we studied as
explained in the previous section by examining their results for math.
In table 2 the results have been summarized.
The author would like to thank Bram Moons and Dirk Geeraerts both teachers in the school for their
invaluable help.
      
       
 
School: Stedelijke humaniora
Research Body
Target Language
Mother tongue (Dutch)
Subject matter
Attitudes and motivation
Cognitive aspects
Ministry research
In favour of CLIL pupils
No difference found
between +CLIL and –
CLIL pupils
In favour of CLIL pupils
Dylan research
In favour of CLIL pupils
No difference found
between +CLIL and –
CLIL pupils
In favour of CLIL pupils
Not studied
Not studied
In favour of CLIL pupils
Highly in favour of CLIL
Table 2: General qualitative results on six tenets in the elite school involved in the study
As can be seen in table 2 the CLIL results are favourable for CLIL pupils not only on
specific language related tasks but also on non-linguistic tasks, such as mathematics,
exactly what we predicted and what we also found in primary schools in previous
studies (cf. Van de Craen et al. 2007a en b).
It has to be said that both the teachers and the school were very enthusiastic, to such
an extent that after two years they decided to include French as well in their CLIL
The Hotel School Hasselt
The Hotel School is a completely different school. Most of its pupils come from a low
socioeconomic background. We recommended the Hotel school to use French as the
target language because the French language has largely influenced the language of
cooking. Moreover, internships by these pupils often take place in an international
French-speaking environment. Finally, quite a number of cooking terms are of French
The school decided to start with twelve-year-olds for two hours a week. In fact,
kitchen practice took place in French and researchers made numerous audiorecordings. An interesting characteristic was that from the beginning the teacher of
French was very closely involved. She went as far as to attend most, if not all, CLIL
activities. Later, in the French class this knowledge was used for good measure.
Perhaps the most remarkable observations with reference to attitudes and motivation
emerged in this school. After three months of kitchen activities in French pupils
already showed a remarkable shift in attitude towards their fellow students one year
older than themselves and who were not involved in CLIL activities. The CLIL pupils
considered themselves to be better pupils because they figured that their knowledge of
French simply made them stand out.
The teacher of French reported a remarkable shift in interest in the French classes.
Where before, children dragged themselves into class, not really interested in what
they considered dull French lessons, now they came in and showed genuine interest in
what happened during the French lessons. As could be expected their results increased
dramatically. The math teacher noticed a change in pupils’ interest and an increase in
maths and general school results. Table 3 summarizes the results for the Hotel school.
School: Hotel school
Research Body
Target Language
Ministry research
In favour of CLIL pupils
Mother tongue (Dutch)
No difference found
between +CLIL and –
CLIL pupils
In favour of CLIL pupils
Subject matter
Attitudes and motivation
Cognitive aspects
Not studied
Not studies
Dylan research
Highly in favour of CLIL
Differences found between
+CLIL and –CLIL pupils
are outspoken
Highly in favour of CLIL
Very favourable for CLIL
Highly in favour of CLIL
Table 3: General qualitative results on six tenets in the hotel school involved in the study
If anything, it can easily be said that the results for the vocational school are more
spectacular than for the traditional secondary school in Dilsen. This result is important
because some school authorities and politicians have a tendency to associate CLIL
education with elite pupils and elite schools. Our results clearly show that this is
absolutely not the case. We can state that the contrary is true. Our vocational pupils
tend to benefit even more from CLIL education than other pupils because the implicit
way of learning advocated by CLIL suits these pupils very well.
5. Discussion
Let us briefly summarize the findings with respect to the influence of policies on
multilingual education. We were able to show that European policies are affected by
four parameters. (i) The fact that standardization occurred early or late whereby late
standardization hampers the introduction of multilingual education. (ii) The
perception of language threat: the more a language feels threatened, the more
resistance towards multilingual education. (iii) Language dominance can be a means
for enhancing multilingual education, such as is the case in The Netherlands or a
reason to reject it, as is the case in France. Spain is an example where a major
dominant language has wholeheartedly embraced multilingual education since 2005.
(iv) Finally, there is language legislation. Here smaller countries tend to have heavier
language legislation than bigger ones and countries with a particular language history
such as Estonia or Belgium are heavily legislated as well. It can be said that the
heavier the legislation is the more resistance toward multilingual education will exist.
These four parameters are a means for detecting the tempo with respect to the
implementation of multilingual education. With respect to European policies it can be
predicted that it will take a couple of decennia before countries and/or regions with a
negative score for these parameters have come to grips with multilingual education.
The second body of results referred to the influence of multilingual education on
practices. The schools we studied did show beyond any doubt the added value of
CLIL at the secondary level. With reference to Flanders we were able to witness a
remarkable shift of attention and even a change of policies as a result of multilingual
school practices. The language plan of 2007 rejected all forms of multilingual
education. But continuous practice in primary and secondary schools, showing the
added value of CLIL with respect to the learning abilities of the pupils, was able to
turn the table. The language plan of 2011 does now allow multilingual education in
secondary schools (Talennota 2011).
These results should lead to a new educational paradigm. The fact that language use is
superior in a CLIL context and that cognitive benefits can be observed, point in the
direction of a new paradigm. Moreover, another characteristic of this kind of learning
is that it is – at least at the onset of the CLIL approach - implicit (cf. DeKeyser 2003).
On a theoretical level this way of learning can be compared to ideas related to
emergence summarized by Johnson (2001). Emergence is defined as “[t]he movement
from low level rules to higher-level sophistication” (Johnson 2001:18). This is the
kind of process that is happening in a stimulating learning environment like a CLIL
learning context.
From a more general and theoretical point of view we may state that learning in
another language is a low level activity that results in higher-level sophistication in
the sense that this way of brain stimulation entails greater cognitive activity via the
principles of self-organisation. Evidence for this comes from work with brains and
monkeys and should not come as a shock given the similarities between the species
(cf. Jenkins et al. 1990). It simply means that the development of the brain is
influenced by external factors. And that since learning is dependent on brain plasticity
and the impulses given by the environment (cf. Edelman & Tononi 2000), the brain
gets remapped after such an experience. In other words the experience dependent
brain plasticity is altered, i.e. strengthened.
As a result, CLIL is much more than a new and efficient way of language and content
learning. It refers to learning and pedagogy in a much more scientific way than was
hitherto the case. It also empowers the learner and has as such an emancipating effect.
At the same time it is inherently stimulating and useful for all children whatever the
level or background. It is innovative education at its best. It is our duty to make sure
that our pupils develop in the most sustainable way. Hence the word ‘staying healthy’
in the title referring to a sustainable way of learning that improves on our cognitive
and brain development. This is also the way I would like to understand the meaning
of life long learning.
6. Conclusion
In this contribution we looked at multilingual education from a number of different
perspectives. We studied the influence of policies on multilingual education on a local
level, Flanders, Belgium and a European level by studying language policies of six
selected countries. We also looked at the reverse, namely how multilingual education
influences multilingual practices. In the third part we related CLIL education to a new
educational paradigm implying that multilingual education is also innovative
education and capable of transforming European society. Its implementation on a
grand scale in all forms of education will create a new European citizen. New, not
only in the sense of having new attitudes and/or a new identity, but also new in the
sense that his learning habits will have made him cognitively more apt for learning. It
is in this way that we would like to see evolve the meaning of life long learning.
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