Language Policy

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 241–256

Orwellian doublethink: keywords in Luxembourgish and European language-in-education policy discourses

Original Paper


This paper examines how language-in-education policies in European Union member-states have been influenced by EU policies, and how an identical cluster of keywords—which includes in particular diversity, social cohesion, integration, as well as exclusion as their negative counterpart—emerges from and informs language-in-education policies both in Luxembourg and other European countries. It will be shown how these keywords frequently refer, in the spirit of Orwellian doublethink, to something very different from, or even the opposite of, what they are usually taken to mean. Thus diversity, which is enshrined in the EU motto of ‘unity in diversity’, is often used in practice to uphold the dominant national cultures of monoglossia and homogeneism. The other keyword of the EU motto, social unity or cohesion, is also frequently invoked to justify practices that actually reinforce segregation and exclusion. Similar comments apply to the related keyword of integration, which has often been embraced uncritically by researchers. The analysis will explore in what ways these discourses of Luxembourgish and European language-in-education policy have a hegemonic and disempowering effect upon large numbers of students.


Language-in-education policy Diversity Social cohesion Integration Luxembourg European Union 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Berg, C., & Weis, C. (2005). Sociologie de l’enseignement des langues dans un environnement multilingue. Rapport national en vue de l’élaboration du profil des politiques linguistiques éducatives luxembourgeoises. Luxembourg: Ministère de l’Education nationale et de la Formation professionnelle et Centre d’Etudes sur la situation des jeunes en Europe (CESIJE).Google Scholar
  2. Blackledge, A. (2005). Discourse and power in a multilingual world. Amsterdam: Benjamins.Google Scholar
  3. Blommaert, J. (2003). Commentary: A sociolinguistics of globalization. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 7(4), 607–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blommaert, J., & Verschueren, J. (1998). Debating diversity: Analysing the discourse of tolerance. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J. C. (1977). Reproduction in education, society and culture. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Carey, D., & Ernst, E. (2006). Improving education achievement and attainment in Luxembourg. OECD Economics Department Working Papers 508. Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
  7. Committee of Ministers. (2008). Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)7 of the Committee of Ministers to member-states on the use of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the promotion of plurilingualism. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.Google Scholar
  8. Council of Europe. (2005). Rapport du groupe d’experts: Grand-Duché de Luxembourg. Profil des politiques linguistiques éducatives. Strasbourg: Division des Politiques linguistiques.Google Scholar
  9. Coupland, N. (2003). Introduction: Sociolinguistics and globalization. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 7(4), 465–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davis, K. A. (1994). Language planning in multilingual contexts: Policies, communities, and schools in Luxembourg. Amsterdam: Benjamins.Google Scholar
  11. del Valle, J. (2000). Monoglossic policies for a heteroglossic culture: Misinterpreted multilingualism in modern Galicia. Language & Communication, 20, 105–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Department for Education, Skills (DfES). (2003). Aiming high: Raising the achievement of minority ethnic pupils. London: DfES.Google Scholar
  13. Duchêne, A., & Heller, M. (2007). Discourses of endangerment: Ideology and interest in the defence of languages. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  14. Eurydice. (2004). L’intégration scolaire des enfants immigrants en Europe. Brussels: European Commission.Google Scholar
  15. Fitzsimmons-Doolan, S. (2009). Is public discourse about language policy really public discourse about immigration? A corpus-based study. Language Policy, 8(4), 377–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Foucault, M. (1991). Governmentality. In G. Burchell, C. Gordon, & P. Miller (Eds.), The Foucault effect: Studies in governmentality (pp. 87–104). Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
  17. García, O. (2009). Bilingual education in the 21st century: A global perspective. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  18. Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  19. Heller, M., & Duchêne, A. (2007). Discourses of endangerment: Sociolinguistics, globalization and social order. In A. Duchêne & M. Heller (Eds.), Discourses of endangerment: Ideology and interest in the defence of languages (pp. 1–13). London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  20. Heller, M., & Martin-Jones, M. (2001). Introduction: symbolic domination, education, and linguistic difference. In M. Heller & M. Martin-Jones (Eds.), Voices of authority: Education and linguistic difference (pp. 1–28). Westport: Ablex Publishing.Google Scholar
  21. Hélot, C., & Young, A. (2005). The notion of diversity in language education: Policy and practice at primary level in France. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 18(3), 242–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hoffmann, J.-P. (1996). Lëtzebuergesch and its competitors: Language contact in Luxembourg today. In G. Newton (Ed.), Luxembourg and Lëtzebuergesch: Language and communication at the crossroads of Europe (pp. 97–108). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  23. Horner, K. (2004). Negotiating the language-identity link: Media discourse and nation-building in Luxembourg. PhD diss., State University of New York at Buffalo. Ann Arbor: UMI.Google Scholar
  24. Horner, K. (2007). Global challenges to nationalist ideologies: Language and education in the Luxembourg press. In S. Johnson & A. Ensslin (Eds.), Language in the media: Representations, identities, ideologies (pp. 130–146). London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  25. Horner, K. (2009a). Language, citizenship and Europeanization: Unpacking the discourse of integration. In G. Hogan-Brun, C. Mar-Molinero, & P. Stevenson (Eds.), Testing regimes: Critical perspectives on language, migration and citizenship (pp. 109–128). Amsterdam: Benjamins.Google Scholar
  26. Horner, K. (2009b). Regimenting language, mobility and citizenship in Luxembourg. In G. Extra, M. Spotti, & P. Van Avermaet (Eds.), Language testing, migration and citizenship: Cross-national perspectives on integration regimes (pp. 148–166). London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  27. Horner, K., & Weber, J.-J. (2005). The representation of immigrant students within the classical humanist ethos of the Luxembourgish school-system. In A. J. Schuth, K. Horner, & J.-J. Weber (Eds.), Life in language. Studies in honour of Wolfgang Kühlwein (pp. 241–258). Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier.Google Scholar
  28. Horner, K., & Weber, J.-J. (2008). The language situation in Luxembourg. Current Issues in Language Planning, 9(1), 69–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Integrate Ireland Language and Training (IILT). (2007). Annual activities report. Dublin: IILT.
  30. Koller, V., & Davidson, P. (2008). Social exclusion as conceptual and grammatical metaphor: A cross-genre study of British policy-making. Discourse and Society, 19(3), 307–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kollwelter, S. (1998). L’immigration et les langues dans le système scolaire luxembourgeois. In P. Magère, B. Esmain, & M. Poty (Eds.), La situation de la langue française parmi les autres langues en usage au Grand-Duché de Luxembourg (pp. 163–165). Luxembourg: Centre Culturel Français.Google Scholar
  32. Kraus, P. (2008). A union of diversity: Language, identity and polity-building in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mar-Molinero, C., & Stevenson, P. (2006). Language policy in a changing Europe–Introduction. Language Policy, 5(3), 239–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Martinsson, L., & Reimers, E. (2008). Towards a disharmonious pluralism: Discourse analysis of official discourses on social diversity. In A. Lin (Ed.), Problematizing identity: Everyday struggles in language, culture and education (pp. 51–65). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Milani, T. (2009). At the intersection between power and knowledge: An analysis of a Swedish policy document on language testing for citizenship. Journal of Language and Politics, 8, 287–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Milroy, J., & Milroy, L. (1999). Authority in language: Investigating language prescription and standardisation. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Ministère de l’Education Nationale et de la Formation Professionnelle (MENFP). (1998). Pour une école d’intégration: Constats–questions–perspectives. Luxembourg: MENFP.Google Scholar
  38. Ministère de l’Education Nationale et de la Formation Professionnelle (MENFP). (2007). Réajustement de l’enseignement des langues: Plan d’action 2007–2009. Luxembourg: CESIJE and MENFP.Google Scholar
  39. Muehlmann, S. (2007). Defending diversity: Staking out a common global interest? In A. Duchêne & M. Heller (Eds.), Discourses of endangerment: Ideology and interest in the defence of languages (pp. 14–34). London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  40. Orwell, G. (1949/1969). Nineteen eighty-four. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  41. Pennycook, A. (1998). English and the discourses of colonialism. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Pennycook, A. (2004). Language policy and the ecological turn. Language Policy, 3(3), 213–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ruiz, R. (1984). Orientations in language planning. NABE Journal, 8(2), 15–34.Google Scholar
  44. Shohamy, E. (2006). Language policy: Hidden agendas and new approaches. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Shohamy, E. (2008). At what cost? Methods of language revival and protection: Examples from Hebrew. In K. A. King, N. Schilling-Estes, L. Wright Fogle, J. J. Lou, & B. Soukup (Eds.), Sustaining linguistic diversity: Endangered and minority languages and language varieties (pp. 205–218). Georgetown: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Statec. (2009). Le portail des statistiques du Luxembourg. Luxembourg: Statec.
  47. Stråth, B. (2006). Future of Europe. Journal of Language and Politics, 5, 427–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Stubbs, M. (1996). Text and corpus analysis: Computer assisted studies of language and culture. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  49. Weber, J.-J. (2008). Safetalk revisited, or: Language and ideology in Luxembourgish educational policy. Language and Education, 22(2), 155–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Weber, J.-J. (2009). Multilingualism, education and change. Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang Verlag.Google Scholar
  51. Williams, R. (1976/1988). Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society. London: Fontana.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of English and EducationUniversity of LuxembourgWalferdangeLuxembourg
  2. 2.Department of German, Russian and Slavonic Studies, School of Modern Languages and CulturesUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations