Languages for language-related industries and professions
Languages for enhanced opportunities on the labour market
Languages as an interface between the different sectors of education
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Conference West
University of Southampton (UK), Friday 29 June 2007

With the increased interconnectedness of the world, successful communication across linguistic and cultural barriers is more important that ever. We increasingly need foreign language and intercultural skills to communicate for purposes of work, for studying or working abroad, and for travel and personal development. As a result, we need a better understanding of what kinds of foreign language and intercultural skills are needed, and how we can ensure that everyone who needs to do so has the opportunity to develop them.

The Thematic Network Project in the Area of Languages III (2003-06), funded under the EU’s Socrates programme, has developed a set of recommendations comprising

  • which competences and skills are needed;

  • what should be done at Higher Education (HE) level to ensure that adequate language instruction is provided;

  • how higher education institutions and their stakeholders on the labour market can collaborate so that the HE graduates develop the linguistic and intercultural skills needed in the world of work.

  • how collaboration can be improved between HE and other sectors of the education system, especially with secondary schools.

Why this conference?
At the conference, the results of the Thematic Network Project (TNP) will be presented to a wider audience – representatives of educational institutions, educational authorities, employers in various professions, graduates, and students.

The aim of the conference is to discuss the TNP outcomes and to strengthen the dialogue and collaboration between the universities and their stakeholders, the ultimate result being that the HE language provision is geared to meet the needs of the labour market in the widest sense. This applies to language specialists as well as all other professions that need a foreign language component – to name but a few examples, engineers working abroad, medical doctors treating foreign language patients, people working in import / export businesses, etc.
Western Europe
North-Western Europe comprises the British Isles, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Germany (Länder) and Switzerland. There is a huge diversity of linguistic contexts, ranging from smaller countries with several official languages to large countries with internationally used languages. All of them are currently experiencing a rapid growth in migratory movements, with a resulting multilingual population. As a result, there is a strong need for foreign language and intercultural skills in order for these countries to thrive and prosper in the increasingly competitive global market place, and to accommodate the increasingly diverse groups which make up the population.

In all of these countries, issues of language policy and in particular policy on language education are becoming important strategic questions. Educators, ministry representatives, employers, university graduates and students all have a stake in the development of linguistically competent communities. By participating in this conference, and by entering into dialogue and collaboration with each other, we hope you can contribute actively to the development of such communities.
Conference documents are available for download in the Documents section.
Practical information
Participating Countries
  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • France
  • Ireland
  • Lichtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • The Netherlands
  • United Kingdom