JoLIE 2:1 (2009)

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Ethnolinguistic vitality and minority education



Martin Ehala

University of Tartu, Finland






To respect and protect linguistic and cultural diversity is one of the core principles of UNESCO and EU. Yet globalisation has considerably challenged the sustainability of small ethnic and linguistic communities. Increased mobility, concentration of wealth, and new information technologies are inevitably working towards the decrease of cultural and linguistic diversity. However, the maintenance of diversity depends also heavily on various cultural and social psychological factors that could be influenced by education and mass communication. The paper outlines the main social psychological factors influencing the ethnolinguistic vitality of a culture or ethnic group and reveals their structural relationships, for example the prestige of the culture, cultural distance and utilitarianism and discordance. Based on this model, suggestions are made how to enhance the ethnolinguistic vitality of lesser used languages and cultures in the broad framework of bilingual and minority education.[1].


Keywords: Ethnolinguistic vitality; Multiple identity; Self-categorisation.



Editors’ note:

This article is the author’s contribution to the Proceedings of the Exploratory Workshop Linguistic and Intercultural Education in the Process of Europeanisation of Higher Education CLIE-2009, Popescu, T & Pioariu R (Eds.). Aeternitas: Alba-Iulia, pp. 136-147 (reproduced with permission).





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How to cite this articleEhala, M. (2009). Ethnolinguistic Vitality and Minority EducationJournal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education – JoLIE, 2(1), 3748. DOI:



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[1] This paper is a part of the project “Ethnolinguistic vitality and identity construction: Estonia in Baltic background” supported by Estonian Science Foundation grant no 7350.