The global spread of English, and associated questions of linguistic imperialism and epistemic injustice, are reasonably well rehearsed in the academic literature. However, there seems to be relatively less emphasis placed on the languages that are displaced by hegemonic processes, whether that of English, or that of other locally dominant languages. The Apprentisage des langues MoDiMEs dans une Europe plurielle (ALaMODE) research project attempts to redress this imbalance, by focussing on questions regarding the diffusion and teaching of less widely spoken languages.
What Langues MoDiMEs are
The French acronym MoDiMEs stands for Moins Diffusées et Moins Enseignées (Less Widely Used and Less Widely Taught) languages. These are languages that are not very visible in the European context. Some of them are relatively ‘small’ in absolute terms: this definition includes regional languages and marginalised varieties of dominant languages. Others, such as Chinese, Russian, Japanese or Arabic, are certainly “major” in a global sense, but they are less visible in the European linguistic ecology.
The relational definition of Langues MoDiMEs can pose challenges, because languages do not enjoy the same status in educational systems worldwide. For example, some languages, such as Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian, may be considered Langues MoDiMEs in the European context, but they would not be viewed as such in Australia, where they are widely taught as L2s in schools. In other words, deciding whether a language is “more” or “less” widely spoken or taught requires us to take into account multiple political, educational, sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic considerations.
What this means is that it is necessary to develop contextualised understandings of Langues MoDiMEs. As a first step, we need a documentation of what Langues MoDiMEs are in each local context. We also need locally relevant insights into what makes these languages less widely used and taught. Equally, we need to understand what the processes are which marginalise them. Such understandings can hopefully help inform language policy as well as teaching practice in ways that challenge linguistic inequalities.
Studying Langues MoDiMEs
The project team
The Apprentissage des Langues MoDiMEs dans une Europe Plurielle (ALaMODE) international research collaboration is a joint initiative led by the Université de Poitiers. Other partners include the Universities of Thessaly (Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλίας), Niš (Универзитет у Нишу), Turku (Turun Yliopisto), Iaşi (Universitatea Alexandru Ioan Cuza din Iași), Tirana (Universiteti I Tiranës), Serajevo (Univerzitet u Sarajevu), East Serajevo (Универзитет у Источном Сарајеву), Varsovie (Uniwersytet Warszawski), Wrocław (Uniwersytet Wrocławski), Salamanque (Universidad de Salamanca), Coimbra (Universidade de Coimbra), and Thessaloniki (Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης).
You can meet the project team and read more about our roles and interests below:
Aims and deliverables
The project aims to challenge and inform language policy and teaching. We expect that it will encourage reflection about the place of Langues MoDiMEs in the European linguistic ecology. We also hope that it will contribute, in practical ways, towards more effective teaching of such languages. To do this, we envisage three main sets of outputs:
- Documentation of language policies in the EU, with emphasis on the role of Langues MoDiMEs. In doing so, we hope to highlight inclusive practices, where such exist. We also expect to identify areas where more inclusive policies towards diversity would be desirable.
- Typological and contrastive analysis of Langues MoDiMEs. Such analysis will hopefully inform teaching and materials design by identifying areas which could cause difficulty in language learning. We expect to publish this such case studies in an edited volume.
- An educational proposal, e.g., in the form of a game intended to help speakers to develop literacy skills in an alphabet other than the one used in their L1. We view this as a ‘proof-of-concept’ demonstration of how purposeful materials design can help with the teaching of Langues MoDiMEs.
|Documentation of language policies||Data generation instrument|
Case studies of HE language policies (Special issue of Revue du Centre Européen d’Etudes Slaves)
|Typological and contrastive analysis||Reports on various Langues MoDiMEs|
Edited volume (Peter Lang)
|Educational proposal||Game for learning non-Latin alphabets||late 2024|
Resources and Updates
Content will be added to this section as the project develops.
WORKSHOP: Universities are sites where local languages, standard national languages, and English as a global language come into contact. What does this mean in terms of language policy?