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EMRLingua: the neighbourhood language project in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine

Living, learning and working in a border region offers many opportunities. The better neighbours on both sides of the border understand each other, the better existing potential can be used. Where barriers such as cultural prejudices or a lack of language knowledge exist, they can be overcome by promoting the learning of the neighbouring languages French, German and Dutch and by creating new meeting opportunities. That is the objective of the partners cooperating in the new Interreg V project for Euroregional education.

EMRLingua was officially launched at the beginning of March this year and will run until August 2023. It is planned that the Euregionaal Coördinatiecentrum voor Buurtalen en Interculturele Competenties, which is being set up as part of the project and will be located in the Euregio Maas-Rhine (EMR) building in Eupen, will continue to exist after the project and will act as the first contact point for cross-border exchanges in the field of education in the EMR.

No less than 14 project partners and associated partners from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands are working together to strengthen the multilingualism and intercultural competences of children, young people and teachers in the EMR. Cross-border encounters in the form of school exchanges, joint visits to extracurricular educational locations such as museums, nature centres, zoos or memorial sites like Vogelsang IP, as well as cross-border internships and individual stays (e.g. through the Swap-Swap initiative) are central.

In this way, mental barriers can be broken down and pupils come into contact with neighbourhood languages in a natural way. Needs and bottlenecks in the area of neighbour language education are scientifically researched by researchers of Maastricht University (ITEM). Proven concepts such as the networks of Euregioprofilschulen and Euregioscholen will be continued and expanded. Pupils can document their progress and experiences in a digital pupil portfolio and acquire certificates. New ideas and concepts can be further developed by the partners. Existing digital teaching materials will be collected, updated and made freely available for use on the project website, which is still to be developed. New teaching materials will also be developed. The mBook Geography deserves a special mention here. This is a multimedia geography book with a thematic focus on the Euregio Meuse-Rhine in the three local languages.

More than 2.7 million euros are available for the project, half of which comes from Interreg funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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