NPLD-Coppieters Campus 2021

Immersion education: exploring what works in linguistically diverse contexts across Europe

Palma, 24th November

Immersion education is a pedagogical model in which students receive their subject-matter instruction through the medium of a target language. In bilingual communities where a dominant state language coexists with territorial, indigenous, small-state, or unique minority or regional languages, the target language may belong to the second group.

The goal of the immersion model is to ensure that the regional language is present in the schooling system, while guaranteeing the learning of the majority language. This model has been praised by numerous international experts and organizations, such as the Commission’s High-Level Group on Multilingualism, the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues.

Immersion Education is applied in different regions of Europe such as Wales, Catalonia, or the Basque Country, and coexists with other plurilingual education models, predominantly with the Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) methodology. It has been considered as an exemplary model which guarantees full, functional bilingualism, both in the majority and the minority language without segregating students in language terms.

Furthermore, immersion education model enables children to acquire sufficient linguistic competences in the two languages -the dominant and the minority language- which allow them to use the language of their choice after finishing school. If the school system fails to provide students full command of the two languages, that would result in a curtailment of children’s future opportunities and a limitation of their freedom to choose the language in which they wish to communicate as they become adults.

Recently, however, a sharp debate has emerged regarding the application of this model in some European countries, notably in France and Spain. Too often, arguments against the language immersion model are based on purely ideological grounds and use unbiased, partisan, and inaccurate data. All this has contributed to create confusion over the scope and the implications of this model.

In this Campus, we intend to shed some light on this debate by providing the participants with the necessary data that will certainly be useful for a better account of the language immersion model in education.

Organizer Committee

The Organizer Committee of this year’s edition of the NPLD-Coppieters Campus is composed of Bethan Webb (Government of Wales), Araceli Díaz de Lezana (Government of the Basque Country), Vicent Climent (Government of Catalonia), Fulup Jakez (Breton Language Office), Gabriele Zanello (University of Udine), Beatriu Defior (the Balearic Islands) and Inaki Irazabalbeitia (Coppieters Foundation).

About the campus

The NPLD-Coppieters Campus is a biennial event jointly organised by the Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity and the Coppieters Foundation after the summer break.

The NPLD-Coppieters Campus aims to be a meeting place for reflection and exchange of ideas among governments, policy makers, practitioners, researchers and experts from all over Europe working in the field of language policy and planning for Constitutional, Regional and Small-State Languages across Europe.

The Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity (NPLD) is a European wide network whose main goal is to raise awareness at a European level on the vital importance of linguistic diversity. NPLD includes governments both national and regional, universities and associations as its members.

Coppieters Foundation is a think tank focusing on European affairs. It develops new ideas and produces knowledge on the management of cultural and linguistic diversity, collective and minority rights, multi-level governance, decentralization, state and constitutional reform, statehood processes, self-determination, migration, peace studies and the protection of human rights in Europe.


Conference Programme

Wednesday, 24 November

  • 08.45-09.15 Opening words

    Jaume Carot, University of the Balearic Islands  | Rector

    Inaki Irazabalbeitia, Coppieters Foundation | Member of the Bureau

    Agustina Vilaret, Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity |Chair

    Miquel Company, Government of the Balearic Islands | Regional-Minister for European funds, University & Culture

  • 09.15-10.00 Keynote speech: Comparing the aims and outcomes of European minority language education

    Durk Gorter, Ikerbasque Research Professor & UPV/EHU

    You can read and download his presentation here.

  • 10.00-10.45 The international debates on the language immersion system
    • Agustina Vilaret, Government of the Balearic Islands & NPLD Chair
    • Miren Dobaran, Government of the Basque Country
    • Vicent Climent, Government of Catalonia
  • 10.45-11.15 Coffee break
  • 11.15-11.45 Panel I: 50 years of bilingual teaching in France: educational achievement and institutional uncertainty

    Fulup Jakez, Office Public de la Langue Bretonne

    You can read and download his presentation here.

  • 11.45-12.15 Panel II: Integrating migrants through language immersion models
  • 11.45- 12.00 The case of Catalonia

    Clara Prades,  Government of Catalonia

    You can read and download her presentation here.

  • 12.00 -12.15 The case of Finland

    Christina Gestrin, Folktinget

    You can read and download her speech here.

  • 12.15-12.30 Presentation of the video “Immersion Education”

    Estibaliz Alkorta, Government of the Basque Country

    Watch the video here.

  • 12.30-13.30 Lunch break
  • 13.30-14.45 Panel III: Other language education models: empirical results
  • 13.30-13.45 Wales: late immersion

    Dafydd Trystan, Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol

    You can read and download his presentation here.

  • 13.45-14.00 Slovenian language education in Italy

    Maja Mezgec, Slovenski Raziskovalni Inštitut

    You can read and download her presentation here.

  • 14.00-14.15 Ireland and the Gaeltach

    Sean Ó Coinn, Foras Na Gaeilge.

    You can read and download his presentation here.

  • 14.15-14.30 Education and languages in Galicia

    Valentín García Gómez, Government of Galicia

    You can read and download his presentation here.

  • 14.30-14.45 The Valencian case

    Marc Jiménez, Government of Valencia

    You can read and download his presentation here.

  • 14.45-15.00 Coffee break
  • 15.00-15.45 Open discussion: Languages in the education system. Future directions and perspectives
    • Kristina Cunningham, European Commission
    • Jarmo Lainio,  Committee of Experts of the ECRML
    • Johan Häggman, FUEN
    • William Cisilino, Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity

    MODERATOR: Inaki Irazabalbeitia, Coppieters Foundation

  • 15.45-16.00 Closing words
    • Inaki Irazabalbeitia, Coppieters Foundation | Member of the Bureau
    • Agustina Vilaret, Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity |Chair


Durk Gorter

Durk Gorter is Ikerbasque research professor at the University of the Basque Country, Spain. He is the principal investigator of the Donostia Research group on Education And Multilingualism (DREAM). He carries out research on European minority languages, multilingual education, and linguistic landscapes. Among his recent publications are Pedagogical Translanguaging (2021, Cambridge U.P.; co-edited with Jasone Cenoz) and a special issue of System (2020) on Pedagogical translanguaging: navigating between languages at school and at the university. He has taught a course on comparing European minority languages in the Master in Multilingualism and Education. He was also Editor-in-Chief of the journal Language, Culture and Curriculum. The International Association of Multilingualism gave him the award of Distinguished Scholar of Multilingualism.

Comparing the aims and outcomes of European minority language education

Education for minority languages in Europe can take many shapes and forms. Therefore the teaching of regional minority languages in schools in different areas in Europe displays a great variety. There are important differences in various education systems concerning the aims, the support, the legal provisions, the target group or the outcomes.

In this contribution, the goal is to look into some of the similarities and differences across various cases of teaching European minority languages that share the aim of multilingual proficiency as an outcome for its students.

The existing provisions can be placed on a continuum depending on the presence of the minority language. At one end of the continuum, the minority language is taught at all education levels of as a medium of instruction and a subject for all students (speakers of the minority language, the dominant language and other languages), with the aim of full proficiency. At the other end of the continuum there are provisions that include only one level of education with minimal teaching of the minority language as a subject for a limited amount of time and only targeted at speakers of that minority language.

Obviously, the outcome in these contrasting cases will be quite different. It is necessary to identify the essential components of the educational system in order to find some common patterns that contribute to a successful outcome for language proficiency. One of the key questions is how certain educational approaches can produce entirely competent multilingual persons.

Insights gained from recent innovative approaches to the teaching of minority languages such as pedagogical translanguaging, linguistically sensitive teaching or the use of digital tools, can contribute to improving the results for language education.

The knowledge of successful approaches and their challenges can help to improve existing educational policies or implement new policies. This knowledge can also serve to take away misunderstandings or unjustified objections against teaching the minority language to its full extent. At the European level, these insights can contribute to the further development of best practices in minority language education.

Agustina Vilaret

Regional Secretary for Universities, Research and Language Policy (Government of the Balearic Islands) & Chair of the NPLD

The international debates on the language immersion system

Miren Dobaran

Vice-Regional Minister for Language Policy (Government of the Basque Country)

The international debates on the language immersion system

Vicent Climent

Directorate-General for Language Policy (Government of Catalonia)

The international debates on the language immersion system

Fulup Jakez

Director of the Office Public de la Langue Bretonne

50 years of bilingual teaching in France: educational achievement and institutional uncertainty

Clara Prades

Government of Catalonia

The case of Catalonia

Christina Gestrin

Christina Gestrin works as the Secretary General at The Swedish Assembly of Finland since September 2020. She has a MSc in environmental protection from the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry at the University of Helsinki and an Executive MBA from Aalto University. She was a member of the Finnish Parliament between 2000-2015 and has been a member of the City Council of Espoo since 2000.

Panel discussion: Managing languages in officially bilingual territories. Challenges and opportunities

Estibaliz Alkorta

Director for the Promotion of the Basque Language (Government of the Basque Country)

Presentation of the video "Immersion Education"

Dafydd Trystan

Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol

Late immersion in Wales

Maja Mezgec

Slovenski Raziskovalni Inštitut

Slovenian language education in Italy

Sean Ó Coinn

Chief Executive of Foras Na Gaelilge

Other language education models, empirical results: Ireland and the Gaeltach

Valentín García

Secretary-General for Language Policy (Government of Galicia)

Education and languages in Galicia

Marc Jiménez

Vice-Director General for Language Policy and Multilingualism (Government of Valencia)

Other language education models. Empirical results: The Valencian case

Follow it online

The event will take place in Palma, Mallorca, Spain, and attendance is only possible by invitation.

However, we are glad to welcome as many virtual attendees as possible by any of the three channels that we have available:



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