Advancing the European Multilingual Experience


Understanding what it means to speak more than one language


Multilingualism is a way of life for many Europeans, and that number is increasing all the time. The EU has 24 official and working languages, and recognises more than 60 regional and minority languages. Immigration and freedom of movement are bringing more and more people into contact with different languages, across different age groups and in different cultural contexts.

The starting point for AThEME researchers is to try and reconcile how this range of individual and social factors influence multilingualism. The researchers will be looking at all types of languages and all types of speakers in order to increase our understanding of what it means to be multilingual in today’s Europe. But the project also aims to make sure these findings aren’t just locked away in universities, but are used to make a real difference to the everyday lives of Europeans. Researchers in the project will work hard to make sure their findings have real impact at the local, national, and European levels.


(1) “Investigate the outstanding cognitive, linguistic and sociological issues in multilingual Europe”

  • The project will particularly focus on regional minority languages (like Gaelic in Scotland), and on heritage languages (like Urdu, in the case of a child whose parents moved to Scotland from Pakistan).
  • The project will also study the relationship between language and other mental processes, such as paying attention, and whether learning another language is beneficial for brain health.

(2) “Assess existing public policies and practice in the areas of education and health”

  • The project will produce annual policy briefs, alternating between education and health.
  • Researchers will develop assessment tools and therapy options for clinicians working with multilingual clients who have acquired difficulties with language use, for example following a stroke.

(3) “Contribute to evidence-based policy-making”

  • The project aims to raise awareness of multilingualism, so that people in all sectors of society can make informed decisions.
  • Researchers will build a network of stakeholders across Europe, including parents, teachers, health workers, and policy makers.
  • People will share their expertise and findings through workshops, talks, and online content.


March 2014 – March 2019


EU flag

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

Find out more

There are lots of ways you can keep in touch with the project.

Visit the AThEME project’s central webpage:

Check out the Bilingualism Matters branches in each participating country:

Croatia – Rijeka
France – Nantes
Germany – Konstanz
Italy – Trento
Netherlands – Amsterdam
Slovenia – Nova Gorica
Spain – Vitoria-Gasteiz

Sign up for the AThEME project newsletter

Read previous project newsletters
Autumn-Winter 2014
Spring-Summer 2015
Autumn-Winter 2015

Learn more about AThEME in the UK
Queen Mary University London
University of Edinburgh
University of Reading


Project partners

The project is a collaboration between 17 institutions across 8 European countries.