Language education policies for young learners in Europe

Florence Bonacina-Pugh, Christine Helot*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Language education policies are policies that inform the ways in which languages should be taught, learned, used and assessed in educational institutions. They are usually created with a view to support the development or the maintenance of particular languages, as it is often believed that schools play an important role in shaping language practices in society at large. This paper aims to give an overview of the major types of language education policies for young learners currently available in Europe, including ‘foreign’ language education, bilingual, and multilingual education. It also aims to highlight how these language education policies are underpinned by various ideologies and understandings of ‘language’ and ‘bilingualism’. We argue that Language Education Policies need to be conceptualised as being multi-layered and dynamic processes, which need to involve all educational actors for them to lead to students’ success and sustained bi/multilingual development. Finally, this paper discusses two examples of multilingual language education policies for young learners in Europe, one in Luxembourg for pre-primary education and one in Ireland for primary education, with a view to highlight possible trajectories towards the creation and implementation of multilingual language education policies. It is hoped that this paper will inform language education policy makers, researchers, and actors on current developments and challenges related to language education policy in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-24
JournalEuropean Journal of Language Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2023


  • language education policy
  • Europe
  • young learners
  • foreign language education
  • bilingual education
  • multilingualism
  • ideology


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