Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World





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Apr 27, 2018
by Louise Hallman
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Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World

New report explores the importance of multilingualism and inclusive language policy  Report is now available to read online, download and share

Language is fundamental to national identity and an important contributor to social cohesion in modern pluralistic societies. Learning a foreign language helps you to know that country and language skills can be very valuable. However, language policy decisions can also impact detrimentally on students’ life chances. All of this raises critical questions for researchers, policymakers and practitioners about the role of language learning and testing for two public good objectives: to “untap” and optimize individual talents and to foster social cohesion and dynamic inclusive economies.

To this end, Salzburg Global Seminar convened the session Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World at its home in Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria, in December 2017. The five-day session resulted in the Salzburg Statement for a Multilingual World, which was published on International Mother Language Day and has since been translated into more than 50 languages.

A newly published report from the session is now available to read online, download and share. 

The session, held in partnership with ETS, Microsoft and Qatar Foundation International, formed part of Salzburg Global’s long-running multi-year series, Education for Tomorrow’s World. Together, the more than 40 representatives from policy, academia, civil society and business, representing over 25 countries looked specifically at language policy through the lenses of social justice and social cohesion; the relationship between multilingualism and dynamic and entrepreneurial societies; the role of language policy in achieving the fourth Sustainable Development Goal for quality education; and the evolving role of technology in this field.

The session report includes not only the Salzburg Statement, but also delves into the importance of language policy and practice from different perspectives, featuring summaries of each of the different panel discussions as well as insights from several of the expert participants: 

Language is both barrier and bridge to co-operation, peace and progress

Learning Languages in a Globalized World

Tackling the Inherent Politics of Language Policy

Increasing Social Cohesion – and Avoiding Monolingualism

Embracing the Economic Value of Multilingualism and Minority Languages

Humanizing Language Learning Through Technology

Calling for Multilingualism and Language Rights to be Valued, Protected and Promoted 

Hot Topic: Why is language learning so important?

Hot Topic: What makes good language policy?

Hot Topic: How do we promote the value of multilingualism?

Download the report (PDF)

As populations change and evolve, regardless of the reason, language policies and the programs that support them have a pivotal role to play in helping new arrivals better integrate into their new host countries and enhance social cohesion. Equally important, language policies are fundamental in ensuring millions of people around the world can maintain, enjoy and develop their languages of community. Multilingual policies can sustain the unique and vital resource of language diversity and drive positive change in the world – economically, socially and politically.

Like many other sectors, technological innovation has the potential to revolutionize and democratize the language teaching and learning fields, paving the way to fairer access to the job market. Led by input from session partner, Microsoft, participants considered the role disruptive technology might play in shaping future decisions about language policy.

Much emphasis in schools’ curriculum in recent years has been placed on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), with languages often valued less in comparison – despite the fact this goes against the latest thinking in neuroscience. Participants looked at how the research community could counter this misalignment of evidence and policy, and gain more traction with policymakers, practitioners and the public.

The final part of the session focused on the writing of the Salzburg Statement for a Multilingual World, which was conceived as a way of synthesizing and bringing these complex issues to the attention of policymakers and people of influence and which can serve as an advocacy tool for people working for change in this area. The Statement is provided in full in English in the session report. All other translations – 51 and counting – can be found online:  

The Statement has been circulated widely following the session and now will form the basis of a series of webinars to be held throughout Summer and Autumn 2018.

Salzburg Global Seminar would like to thank ETS, Microsoft and Qatar Foundation International for their generous support of the session Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World. Salzburg Global Fellows' scholarships were provided by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, Capital Group Companies, the Korea Foundation, The Nippon Foundation, the Onodera Fellowship, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Thompson Fellowship and the Walter & Shirley Massey Scholarship Program. We also thank all Fellows for donating their time and expertise to this session.