Lecture by prof. Sonja Novak Lukanovic, PhD, ANCSEE/Institute for Ethnic Studies, Ljubljana

May 19, 2022 at 18:00

Topic: Multilingualism in Slovenia



Language policies and/or relations between communities can promote, support, accept, tolerate or reject multilingualism, or confer a special status to either one or several languages.

Historical background, political changes, migration processes, EU membership and the current socio-linguistic situation have all influenced language policy and language planning in Slovenia. To understand the management of ethnic diversity and language policy in modern Slovenia, it is necessary to know the historical development of the Slovene nation and Slovene state. Focusing on the concept of linguistic diversity, the proposed paper will present the most important aspects of language policy and describe the ethnic composition of Slovenia, including the different statuses and rights of specific groups.

Lately, emphasis has been placed on language policy elaboration in education, thus setting the conditions for learning and understanding first and second languages, foreign languages, and the concepts of multilingualism and plurilingualism. The framework of Slovenia’s language policy puts forward the cultural and language pluralism of the Slovene society. Multilingualism and intercultural awareness are also among the objectives of the Resolution on the National Language Policy Programme 2021-2025, which highlights in particular the languages of the Italian and Hungarian national communities, the Roma language, and the languages of various minority, ethnic and immigrant communities.

Slovenes appear to perceive plurilingualism as natural and their language repertoire includes both ‘local’ or neighbouring languages and ‘foreign’ ones (particularly English). This plurilingual tradition seems to be very much alive among the younger generation and can constitute an extremely favourable starting point for organising institutional teaching focused even more strongly on plurilingual education.

Special attention will be paid to language policy and educational practice in border areas/ethnically mixed regions of Slovenia. The concept is based on human rights protection and positive minority protection measures, i.e., positive discrimination. Two models of bilingual education (involving Slovene plus Italian or Hungarian), the position of the Roma language in education, and the teaching of mother tongue and culture for non-Slovene children will be presented.