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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Other dimensions of internationalisation in early childhood and school education


13.Mobility and internationalisation

13.4Other dimensions of internationalisation in early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023

European and international focuses form a major part of elementary school (ISCED 1), collège (ISCED 2) and lycée (ISCED 3) programmes. It is through the teaching of foreign languages in particular, along with geography, history and civic education that the system seeks to open schoolchildren up to the European and international scene. Alongside the direct contribution made by the courses themselves, a whole range of initiatives taken at institutional level helps develop the European and international aspects of education, one example being growing membership of Europe’s Comenius programme.

European, global and intercultural Dimension in Curriculum Development

Primary level

Some educational elements of the European dimension are at work as early as the second year of primary school cycle. The European and international openness of pupils will be developed through the teaching of foreign languages, geography, history and civic education.

-    Foreign language teaching

Pupils are taught modern languages starting in the second year of primary school. Beginning with the new school year in 2008, language awareness-raising was started in first-year primary school. This teaching is part of the Common European Framework Reference for Languages (CECRL) that provides Member States of the European Union with a common foundation for designing programmes.

The objective of the "Foreign language" programmes is to raise pupils’ awareness of the many languages spoken within their own environment as well as in the national territory.

Through different methods, like contacts made with foreign schools, e-mailing resources and communication networks at a distance, or even the use of audiovisual documents, pupils discover the material, cultural and educational environment of foreign children of the same age. They are also introduced to foreign realities, using documents describing the diversity of environments and lifestyles, highlighting diversity and similarity. They also become more familiar with folklore, legendary characters or tales from these cultures. Native speakers can also be associated with this teaching.

The languages menu enables schools to diversify the languages they offer. A commission on the teaching of foreign modern languages in each academy monitors the diversity of languages on offer, the consistency and continuity of language tracks between primary and secondary school and the information to institutions, parents and pupils on the language offering. The academy drafts an assessment every year and if necessary proposes adjustments to the academic language menu.

European and international sections have also been set up in primary schools. In these sections the practice of foreign languages is reinforced by  the teaching of certain subjects in this language (the EMILE approach: enseignement d’une matière intégrée à une langue étrangère–combining a foreign language in teaching a subject).

-    Geography teaching

The programme stipulates six themes to be studied which introduce pupils to the European and International dimension: "From local geographical reality to the region where the pupils live"; "The French territory within Europe"; "French people in a European context"; "Mobility in France and Europe"; "France within the world"; "The European Union".

-    History teaching

In History, the phases of European construction are included in the programmes. Although a predominant place is dedicated to the French territory, it is more committed to a European, sometimes even international approach, without excluding the regional aspect. The programmes aim at helping pupils construct a set of common references, enabling them to understand what the nation is, what its place in Europe and the world is, taking into consideration the chronological chain of events, marked by significant dates.

-    Civic and moral education

The civic and moral education programme includes the teaching of morals, the knowledge of symbols of the French Republic and, for the first time, that of the symbols of the European Union.

The programme also includes, from the CE2 class, the study of basic rules organising public life and democracy, the knowledge of constitutional elements of the French nation and European Union and the French-speaking world.

Lower secondary education

The education provided in collège participates in the construction of a common basis of knowledge and skills. The foundation of this education is the passing on of the necessary elements to discover and understand France, Europe and the international environment.

Europe is now a key element of collège programmes, in history and geography as well as civic education.

1 - Learning modern languages

Foreign modern languages is one of the seven skills of the common grounding of knowledge and skills. To obtain the national diploma, starting in the 2008 school year, good language command at the CECRL A2 level is required.

The collège pupil can choose to enrol in specific classes known as the sections européennes et internationales (European and international sections). Practising a foreign language in these sections is reinforced by the teaching of certain subjects in this language (the EMILE approach mentioned above).

2 - History teaching

Europe is at the heart of the history programme of collèges: from the Roman Empire to the birth of modern Europe. For example, the programme from the quatrième class is based on three eras in the history of Europe: absolutism and Enlightenment; major upheavals related to the Revolution and the Empire; Europe in the 19th century. The part devoted to Europe and European expansion in the nineteenth century enables the discovery of some of the foundations of contemporary Europe, those of the industrial age but also colonisation.

3 - Geography teaching

The programme stresses the major characteristics of the continents. A part of the programme is dedicated to studying the European continent, but with a global perspective. In the last year of studies the programme prepares more directly – as it tackles the 20th century – for the understanding of the modern world. Europe is through wars and geopolitical upheavals following these wars: study of new European maps, in 1914, 1939, 1942 and 1945. The specific issue of the European Union is tackled, with the study of its construction. The Rome treaty (1957), the Maastricht treaty (1992) and the map of member States with their capital appear in the list of references to memorise for the national brevet diploma.

4- Civic education teaching

In quatrième class, human rights in Europe are at the centre of the programme. The objective is to familiarise pupils with the common values of the countries making up the European Union (democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms) via extracts from two major reference documents: the European Convention on human rights and fundamental freedoms (1950) and the European Union treaty (free movement and voting rights in local elections and European Parliament). Belonging to the European Union is therefore clearly shown, as are European institutions. The programme also focuses on the significance of the notion of European citizenship as defined in the Maastricht treaty. The objective of the entire programme is to educate pupils on the universal and humanistic values born in Europe, freedom as "the common heritage of a fragmented Europe" and the respect of human rights. It is also about demonstrating that, in the context of accepted diversity, national identity is not incompatible with European identity, which is both a heritage and a future in the making.

General upper secondary education

1 - Teaching modern languages

Having a good command of at least two modern languages is one of the objectives of the general and technical lycées. LV1 and LV2 (LV: modern language) are components in compulsory common teaching. LV3 is an optional choice for all general series. Pupils  must be able to understand and express themselves with a foreign person in a common communication situation. To promote this effort each lycée can establish a partnership with a foreign school.

Language programmes rely on the Common European Framework of Reference for languages. Emphasis is placed on what pupils can produce, especially orally.

Renovating language tests for the baccalauréat should make it possible to enhance the oral skills of candidates starting with the 2013 school year.

As of the 2010-2011 school year, new sections for obtaining secondary school end-of-study diplomas both in France and other European countries will add to the Abibac (the baccalauréat + the German Abitur), the Bachibac (baccalauréat + the Spanish bacillerato) and the Esabac (baccaulauréat + the Italian Esame de stato).

Lycéens may also enrol in European or Oriental language sections or international sections offering language highly prised tracks in the teaching of a subject in a foreign language.

Multimedia means now available in schools have been mobilised to facilitate access to video contents in original languages. Pupils use digital tools to practise oral expression and understanding. Each school engages in a partnership with a foreign school.

2 -  History teaching

In lycées, the foundations of the European civilisation are studied in seconde class, Europe through the industrial revolution and he crises of the first half of the 20th century in première class, and European construction from 1951 to the present era in terminale class.

3 - Geography teaching

The geography programme has focused, among other things, on France and its European dimension in première class

4 - Civic education teaching

The civic, legal and social education programme tackles the issue of citizenship in light of the transformations of the contemporary world, primarily in terminale classes: citizenship and construction of the European Union as well as citizenship and the aspects of globalisation.

5 - International opening and School projects

Schools are an ideal place for European and international opening, which is by definition a component of the school's educational plan.

Vocational upper secondary education

1 - Teaching modern languages

Good command of one or several modern languages is an integral part of the professional skills that pupils must acquire in all professions. It is a determining factor in social and professional integration.

Teaching the modern languages in vocational lycées underscores the acquisition of communication skills and a good command of the technical language in each profession.

All training for preparing the CAP or the vocational baccalauréat offers a foreign language as part of compulsory education.

As of the start of the 2009 school year, a second modern language has been made compulsory for all vocational baccalauréats in the services sector.

Among the 4 temporarily maintained BEPs at the start of 2009 two specialisations contained the optional teaching of a second modern language: BEP health and social careers and BEP in restaurants and hotels.

Furthermore, European sections are experiencing considerable development in vocational lycées.

Finally, the prospect of a work placement in a foreign country is likely to motivate pupils to learn the language spoken in the country and company in question. The EUROPRO initiative, aiming at promoting work placement periods in European countries, has been extended to support the European and international development of vocational education.

2 - History and geography teaching

Europe is accounted for in history and geography programmes: in vocational seconde class, the study of the evolution of Europe is contained, in the section devoted to the presentation of the world from 1945 to the present time; in vocational terminale, the study of France since 1945 implies the European dimension, while in geography Europe is also addressed as one of the leading world powers.

In the preparatory cycle for the vocational baccalauréat, Europe becomes a genuine object of study and a permanent reference both in history and geography:

- In history, the second subject studied in the terminale programme, territories and nations in Europe since the mid-19th century, deals with the issue of the revival of nationalism in modern Europe and the problem of supranationality in tandem with the study of the origin of the European Union, linked to the geography programme;

-    In geography, the title of the programme of the première class, France in Europe and in the world, highlights the overall issue: Europe becomes the permanent reference as the French territory is defined as a portion of the European area. The presentation of the organisation of the territory should make it possible to underline "the switch from national logic to European and worldwide logic". This idea is developed in the study of the main regions of the French territory: "the European Union generates other spatial logics, which interfere more and more with the evolution of French regions". In this respect, border regions are becoming a topic of study. In addition, the topic regarding citizens and their territories defines the citizen as "involved in land planning and development at communal, regional, national and European level". Therefore the issue of citizens’ commitment and responsibility, in a supranational context, is broached. Finally, Europe is the third subject studied in the geography programme of terminale class, with two sections: territories and European Union.

Partnerships and Networks

Opening to the international

Each French school has the possibility of developing a partnership with a foreign school. As an example, here is a list of partnership and network programmes which schools may consult to develop relations with European schools.

Inter-Action program

The Inter-Action programme enables distance exchanges between public collèges and lycées with an English European section and British secondary schools (in particular the Language Colleges). 50 partnerships are formed each year.

This programme is part of the educational agreements signed by France and Great Britain. Inter-Action is run in France at CIEP and in Great Britain at the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT). DGESCO and IGEN are associated in its guidance.

It enables contacts, mostly through distance exchanges, between English and French classes around a project calling on not just language skills but also other subjects and the use of the ICTEs.

Programmes run by the executive agency for "Education, Audiovisuals and Culture"

French schools actively participate in co-operation programmes promoted by the executive agency for "Education, Audiovisuals and Culture". This mostly means the following:

  • multilateral projects
  • the Comenius networks
  • eTwinning

Academic mobility programme schemes

Academic-type schemes enrich the offer of mobility programmes from regional policies themselves.

A few examples:

The Amiens Academy – Great Britain

As part of the partnership between Durham County in Great Britain and the Amiens Academy (France) a programme offers a scholarship to French lycéens who visit their partner British school. It is an 15-day individual scholarship.

Dijon Academy –Germany–Finland

This programme exchanges and disseminates practices, knowledge and experiences in the vocational track, develops young peoples' mobility in vocational training and the skills of young people, trainers and supervisory staff.

Nice Academy

The Nice academy offers weeks of training and teaching in Italy for primary-school teachers and study trips as part of a convention with the Piedmont region.

Strasbourg Academy–Germany

The Strasbourg Academy is involved in the Interreg III Trishola programme, a community initiative begun in August, 1990 by the European Commission. Its goal is to intensify cross-border co-operation by supporting regional activities.

Toulouse Academy–Spain

The Toulouse Academy is involved in a partnership with the autonomous community of Aragon and the Catalonia Generalitat.