AThEME: Advancing the European Multilingual Experience

This text is from the Bilingualism Matters Centre at the University of Edinburgh, and is reproduced with permission.


Multilingualism in Europe

Multilingualism is a way of life for many Europeans, and that number is increasing all the time. As of 2014, the EU has 24 official and working languages, and more than 60 recognised regional and minority languages, while immigration and freedom of movement are bringing more and more people into contact with different languages. The EU aims for every European to be able to speak their mother tongue PLUS two other languages.

As the number of people growing up with more than one language increases, it is even more important to understand what it means to be multilingual in today’s Europe. This increasing importance is reflected in the attitudes of Europeans themselves. In 2001, 42% of EU citizens believed that knowledge of foreign languages is useful; by 2012, this figure had more than doubled to 88%.


Bilingualism Matters and AThEME: Working together for a shared goal

Bilingualism Matters aims to communicate evidence-based information about speaking more than one language to families, educators, and policy makers. We believe in bridging the gap between researchers and community, by engaging the public with cutting-edge research.

AThEME brings together academics from all over the EU to achieve one overarching goal: understanding how multilingualism works at all levels of European society. Bilingualism Matters will help make sure these findings are used to improve the everyday lives of European citizens. For example, by organising events for local language teachers, or informing government policy about how best to treat a bilingual person who has suffered a stroke.

By working with the researchers involved in AThEME, Bilingualism Matters can disseminate the results of the project and affect policy at the local, national, and European level. To achieve this, over the next five years, Bilingualism Matters will draw on the findings from AThEME in order to:

  • Establish a strong and coordinated dissemination network across Europe
  • Produce annual policy briefs, addressing issues in education, health, and culture
  • Organise knowledge-exchange events in each participating country
  • Participate in language festivals and events such as events organised on the occasion of the European Day of Languages, 26 September
  • Inform the general public through leaflets, talks, social media, and Bilingualism Matters websites

For more details about the AThEME project, including a list of all partner institutions and participating branches of Bilingualism Matters, visit the AThEME homepage.



Bilingualism Matters was founded by Professor Antonella Sorace at the University of Edinburgh.


Bilingualism Matters@Rijeka has been established within the „Advancing the European Multilingual Experience (AThEME)” project.


This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no. 613465.