Location: Riga, Latvia
Date: 10 April 2017
New Speakers in Latvia: Educational Language Policy for Integration and Peace (Symposium including a Round Table Discussion)
European Union House, Aspazijas bulvāris 28, LV-1050 Riga (opposite Latvian National Opera)
The event is supported by the COST New Speakers Action, the Latvian Language Agency, Rēzekne Academy of Technologies and the DAAD Information Centre Riga.
This one-day conference will introduce the concept of New Speakers to a broader audience in Latvia. It will bring together academics, stakeholders and media representatives interested in language policies, integration of minorities and languages in education in order to discuss Latvian perspectives in a European context.
Two presentations will provide an overview of topics and challenges relevant to migrant new speakers of a national language (e.g. Germany) and speakers of an autochthonous minority language (e.g. Gaelic in Scotland).
These experiences from Western Europe will be contrasted to perceptions of three groups of new speakers in Latvia:
- members of the minority groups who settled in Latvia during Soviet times, many of whom have only within the past two decades started to acquire Latvian;
- more recent migrants to Latvia from different countries in the world in the Latvian context where Western European-style processes of migration are still relatively new;
- speakers of the regional variety of Latgalian in Eastern Latvia (a variety closely related to Standard Latvian but traditionally mostly restricted to the homes and other non-formal domains) in their attempts to revitalize their language and to gain more recognition in society.
The symposium will contextualize the New Speakers concept in Latvia as a post-Soviet society in which societal experiences with migration, the acquisition of the main language of society by minorities and the revitalization of regional languages differ considerably from Western Europe. In this way, the event attempts to contribute to understanding existing practices regarding the three groups of new speakers in Latvia under discussion and to contextualizing existing challenges in a European perspective. Thereby, we hope to assist language policy makers in Latvia in developing successful language management, particularly in education (formal and informal).
The event is open to everybody (no prior reservation required), but we particularly invite representatives of national and local administrative institutions, education policy-makers and the media who are working on language questions of societal integration.