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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Friday, 14.06.2024, 02:24

Multilingualism in Lithuania

Eglė Šleinotienė, President Lietuvos kalbų pedagogų asociacija, specially for BC, 29.09.2010.Print version
What does real life look like in Lithuania? Ministry of Education and Science, most secondary schools, colleges and universities, adult learning institutions have developed their language policy and strategy. Numbers illustrate positive trends.

“Europe is not only a market for economic goods, but also values for culture. In the value system, culture ranks above economy. The economy is indispensible to life and culture makes our lives worth living.”(Jose-Manuel Barroso, President of the EU Commission).


Joint meeting on Multilingualism for business and employability organized 23 September 2010 attracted a large group of professionals from education and businesses and developed the ideas mentioned above. During the European language Day celebration in Brussels Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, emphasized that learning foreign languages improves job prospects. Multilingualism is the passport to a larger world of opportunity and helps in opening people's minds to the different cultures and history, which is an integral part of Europe's heritage.


Increasing immigration, mobility, global marketing and trade need to be addressed by educational systems in the three Baltic States. In Lithuania we do a lot to teach for multicultural understanding in multicultural environment, as well we think about our own culture, nation and try to promote the Lithuanian language. Multilingualism expands and promotes diversity, understanding and appreciation of the new languages of the united and diverse Europe. For small nations it is vital to learn English, German and French, but it is not enough. English may be the language of business throughout the world, but we miss a lot if we do not use the local language and do not think about languages of local minorities. Keeping one’s face, preserving identity is hard work. Less widely-used languages, languages of countries we have borders with, give access to information and knowledge of the world we face. Mastery of at least 2 languages is vital for Europe’s economic competitiveness and prosperity.


But what does real life look like in Lithuania? Ministry of Education and Science, most secondary schools, colleges and universities, adult learning institutions have developed their language policy and strategy. Numbers illustrate positive trends. In 2009/2010 61.9 % of secondary school pupils studied English, 7.4%- German, 1.8- French, 28.7% Russian, 0.02- Polish, 0.04% Italian, 0.06-Spanish and 0.03% other languages.


7.2% of our schools organise educational process in languages of local minorities. Each pupil in our secondary level on average studies 1.4 languages. But language teaching and learning at colleges and universities sometimes depend on the support of the management level of a faculty and the budget available. Adult and long life language learning systems are often influenced by financial situation in the country, usually during the recession less funds are available.


I strongly believe that in Lithuania we need to achieve better results in development of personal qualities of the individual we teach. Here languages play a vital role.  Our younger generation, professionals in education, teachers and even representatives of business are not always very good at problem solving, strategic planning, decision making, communications and willingness to assume responsibility, ability to cooperate and do useful networking. In order to be competitive in Europe and world we need to encourage personal initiative and creativity, as well as being prepared to confront risks in conjunction with implementing ideas. These are typical entrepreneurial qualities we do not pay enough attention at school, college and university.  We do not have any research results, but it is evident that in Lithuania a significant amount of businesses is being lost as a result of lack of language skills as it was mentioned during the meeting in Brussels and “ELAN: Effects on the European Economy of Shortages of Foreign Language Skills in Enterprise” research study performed by CILT (


Lietuvos Kalbų Pedagogų Asociacija (LKPA) I represent tries to promote innovative language teaching/ learning ideas in Lithuania. It was founded in December 2006 with the aim of creating links between existing language associations, universities, schools and language centres. Today, the association has 7 institutional members and more than 100 individual members, all of whom are teachers of the most frequently taught languages in Lithuania, English, German, French and Italian. The Association's purpose is to represent the needs of languages teachers, of teaching institutions and of associations. LKPA makes forceful proposals and recommendations to government and to educational organisations about languages programmes and pedagogical resources. The Association encourages creativity and innovation in the field of language teaching. LKPA is a partner in international REAL2 and EUROLTA projects supported by the European Commission.

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