Plurilingualism as a valuable asset of professional philologists' training


ПОД- СЕКЦИЯ 3. Инновации в области образования.


Olga Duplichuk

PhD student

Zhytomyr Ivan Franko State University 


Plurilingualism as a valuable asset of professional philologists' training

The article aims to address major  developments in professional teachers’ training from a European perspective, regarding plurilingualism and the diversity of languages as valuable assets in the education, culture, politics and economics of twenty-first century societies.  

Over the past few decades Ukrainian society has been confronted with substantial social, cultural, economic and technological changes and challenges. There seems to be widespread agreement that education and training will have to play a key role in order to meet these changes and challenges adequately and pro-actively.

Since the early nineties education and training  have become policy priorities in most Member States of the European Union. Ukraine without exception accumulates all-round efforts of foreign and domestic policy to aspire to the European Union and to create the necessary prerequisites for membership in EU in the future.

 By focusing on human capital theories, which stress the relevance of both comprehensive and coherent human resource development for the economic and social prosperity of post-industrial information societies, education has increasingly become an integral part of economic and social society. Within this context of change language becomes increasingly important. As a tool for communication it is a crucial element in professional teacher’s training.

In Ukraine much of the effort made in recent years to increase the linguistic readiness of the country to join European ‘space’ that requires from its citizens the competence of multilateral communication and cultural correctness. Relying on this fact we consider the plurilinguistic approach to be the indispensable and leading component in professional philologists’ training.

Proficiency in several Community languages has become a precondition if citizens of the European Union are to benefit from the occupational and personal opportunities open to them in the border-free Single Market. This language proficiency must be backed up by the ability to adapt to working and living environments characterised by different cultures.

The following points are particularly noteworthy for agitation of a plurilinguistic approach in the professional pedagogical training :

(i) The learning of other languages is to serve the aim of acquiring the ability to communicate in those languages.

(ii) Proficiency in at least two foreign languages is regarded as a must for everyone –in other words, the principle of equity applies.

(iii) The learning of one foreign language is not enough; the goal is multilingual, not bilingual proficiency.

(iv) Learning other languages is relevant to personal development.

(v) Language proficiency is linked to occupational opportunities – in other words, to employability.

(vi) Although the 1+>2 formula makes a distinction between mother tongue and foreign languages, the White Paper first and foremost speaks of “proficiency in three Community languages”, thereby highlighting the importance of considering a person’s linguistic repertoire in its entirety [4, p.2].

The European Commission believes that languages are also the key to knowing other people. Proficiency in languages helps to build up the feeling of being European with all its cultural wealth and diversity and of understanding between the citizens of Europe.

Learning languages also has another important effect: experience shows that when undertaken during the education, it is an important factor in doing well at study. Contact with another language is not only compatible with becoming proficient in one's mother tongue, it also makes it easier. It opens the mind, stimulates intellectual agility and, of course, expands people's cultural horizon. Plurilingualism is part and parcel of both European identity/citizenship and the learning society.

Thus, in line with the resolution of the Council of Education Ministers of 31 March 1995, it is becoming necessary for everyone, irrespective of training and education routes chosen, to be able to acquire and keep up their ability to communicate in at least two Community languages in addition to their mother tongue [2, p.47].

In this connection the profession of a teacher-philologist assumed a unique status: in the constantly changing world the educational policy needs permanent regulations and reconstructions, and a teacher in its turn has to be the agent of these changes to meet the needs of a multilingual and multicultural Europe by appreciably developing the ability of pupils to communicate with each other across linguistic and cultural boundaries.

In the light of these objectives, the Committee of Ministers stressed ‘the political importance at the present time and in the future of developing specific fields of action, such as strategies for diversifying and intensifying language learning in order to promote plurilingualism in a pan-European context’ and drew attention to the value of further developing educational links and exchanges and of exploiting the full potential of new communication and information technologies [5].

The concept of plurilingualism of the Council of Europe’s approach to language learning is explained in the first chapter of The Common European Framework of Reference in the following way: “Plurilingualism differs from multilingualism,which is the knowledge of a number of languages, or the co-existence of different languages in a given society. Multilingualism may be attained by simply diversifying the languages on offer in a particular school or educational system, or by encouraging pupils to learn more than one foreign language, or reducing the dominant position of English in international communication. Beyond this, the plurilingual approach emphasises the fact that as an individual person’s experience of language in its cultural contexts expands, from the language of the home to that of society at large and then to the languages

of other peoples (whether learnt at school or college, or by direct experience), he

or she does not keep these languages and cultures in strictly separated mental compartments, but rather builds up a communicative competence to which all knowledge and experience of language contributes and in which languages interrelate and interact. In different situations, a person can call flexibly upon different parts of this competence to achieve effective communication with a particular interlocutor” [1, p.4-6].

From this perspective, the aim of language education is profoundly modified. It is no longer seen as simply to achieve ‘mastery’ of one or two, or even three languages, each taken in isolation, with the ‘ideal native speaker’ as the ultimate model. Instead, the aim is to develop a linguistic repertory, in which all linguistic abilities have a place. This implies, of course, that the languages offered in educational institutions should be diversified and students given the opportunity to develop a plurilingual competence.

Furthermore, once it is recognised that language learning is a lifelong task, the development of a young person’s motivation, skill and confidence in facing new language experience out of school comes to be of central importance. That’s why, one of the most important philologist’s task is to provide the richest possible

linguistic environment in which learning can take place without formal teaching.

What is more, the plurilingual competence of a teacher-philologist should be fully developed just before the beginning of his pedagogical activity in order to mould it in his potential pupils.  

A teacher-philologist should not only call flexibly upon different parts of his communicative competence to achieve effective contact with a particular interlocutor but also be a generator of innovative cultural processes, a recipient and a retransmitter of foreign cultural impulses and phenomena because language is not only a major aspect of culture, but also a means of access to cultural manifestations. That’s why plurilingualism has itself to be seen in the context of pluriculturalism. Being the interpreter of national culture, a philologist becomes the creator of a lively process of students' involvement in foreign culture paving the way for greater mobility, more effective international communication combined with respect for identity and cultural diversity, better access to information, more intensive personal interaction, improved working relations and a deeper mutual understanding. In philologist’s  cultural competence, the various cultures (national, regional, social) to which this teacher has gained access do not simply co-exist side by side; they are compared, contrasted and actively interact to produce an enriched, integrated pluricultural competence, of which plurilingual competence is one component, again interacting with other components.

It follows from this that pluricultural paradigm favours better features' understanding of philologists' professional training where languages and literature come as main generalized activity objects.  Interconnection of education and culture takes place in the pluricultural environment of higher education institutions and in particular philology department through generalization, keeping and revival of national cultural and educational traditions.

Therefore, a plurilingual approach acquires the special meaning in professional pedagogical training of different areas’ experts and future teacher-philologists in particular; as being the key figure of the educational system a philologist is called to provide the solution of above-stated problems that is to prepare future and present experts to the living in multicultural societies of the XXI century.

The given approach is the theoretical and methodological strategy of plurilingual and pluricultural forming of future teachers’ pedagogical competence. It is also the method to reveal complex interconnections and interdependences of structural elements of the object under study, in our case of professional pedagogical training of future teachers-philologists that leads to its successful forming in the context of pluricultural pedagogical education, providing the organization of study process in the spirit of intercultural dialogue, humanization of educational aims and content from positions of tolerant perception of foreign culture.

The changing role of languages in general and the growing importance of plurilingualism for European integration in all fields in particular should lead to innovative approaches in teaching programmes and in researches.Thereby, teacher’s training on plurilingualism is crucially important and effective. The basic purpose of plurilingualism in the professional pedagogical activity is the future teacher's training to plurilingual communication and formation of pluricultural professional competence.


  1. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  2. European Commission (1995) White paper on Education and Training – Тeaching and Learning – Towards the Learning Society. COM (95)590. [Електронний ресурс] / Council of Europe, (1998) Recommendation 98(6) of the Committee of Ministers on Linguistic Diversity. Режим доступу:
  3. Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the promotion of plurilingualism, 2 July 2008. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2008.
  4.  Multilingual Competences for Professional and Social Success in Europe (Warsaw, 28-29 September 2011) [Електронний ресурс]. Режим доступу:
  5. Recommendation CM / Rec (2008)7 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the use of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the promotion of plurilingualism, 2 July 2008. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2008.