Academic journal article European Journal of Language Policy

CELAN Network: Vademecum

Academic journal article European Journal of Language Policy

CELAN Network: Vademecum

Article excerpt

Why this Vademecum?

This Vademecum is designed to arouse interest in the results of the CELAN Network project Language Strategies for Competitiveness and Employability, which was carried out in the period January 2011-March 2013 with support from the European Commission (Lifelong Learning Programme - Key Activity 2/Languages).1 It is targeted at companies - particularly small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs), business representative organisations (BROs) and social partners. It may also be of interest to education institutions that regard it as their responsibility to provide language preparation for professional life.

CELAN was launched from within the Business Platform for Multilin- gualism, a stakeholder forum created in September 2009 by the European Commission, comprising 12 European intermediary organisations, an EU "body", two higher education associations, and six specialist organisations.

The Platform adopted the following mission statement.

Provision to European enterprises and individuals of services and tools to enable them to improve their professional performance through effective language strategies, and to provide the European Commission and Member State governments with pertinent advice.

CELAN is an innovative project experience in that the partnership comprises three European business representative/intermediary organisations, three higher education associations, three specialist organisations, two universities, and a vocational education and training institution.

The point of departure of the CELAN Network is the fact that as a result of economic globalisation, linguistic and language-related needs in industry and business have increased to an extent unimaginable 10 or 15 years ago. In view of this development, it is not surprising that in the first decade of the twenty-first century the relevance of multilingualism to competitiveness and employability became a major issue in EU policy.

The Business Platform in general, and the CELAN Network in particular, decided that their activities had to be bottom-up oriented, needs- and business- driven. This is why CELAN started off by conducting a Europe-wide survey among enterprises and business representative organisations on "Companies' Linguistic and Language-Related Needs in Europe". While the 540+ responses received cannot be regarded as providing a representative picture, they nevertheless prove that the CELAN partners' view of the business activities for which internationally-oriented companies need "foreign" languages was basically right, and the principal responses were as follows:

* attending business meetings (negotiation, collaboration, etc.)

* maintaining international relations, travelling abroad

* presenting company products, services

* using multilingual communication (telephone, e-mail, video conferencing)

* attending trade fairs, conferences, congresses

* preparing communication material - leaflets, brochures, mailshots, instructions

* interacting socially with customers and suppliers

* retrieving and using business/technical/market information

* interacting in teams/with colleagues/with headquarters

* preparing internal operational procedures, technical briefs, machine operating instructions, product user guides/leaflets/instructions

The following language-related business activities received less attention.

* installing and maintaining company products abroad

* responding to/presenting offers, bids, tenders

* reporting: market analysis, policy documents, product development

* managing a multilingual website

What the survey - not surprisingly - also revealed was that there are consid- erable differences between companies, depending, among other things, on size, sector and geographical location.

From a provisional identification of needs, CELAN moved on to research into language industry products, tools and services that can enable employers and employees to overcome language and language-related needs. …

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