The Institute of Multilingualism is committed to research in the field of multilingualism in all its many facets: linguistic, social, political, economic and pedagogical. As an independent research institution, the Institute conducts basic research and addresses pressing issues and events related to multilingualism. The findings from basic and applied research serve to enrich academic and societal debate on multilingualism and in general to advance multilingualism as a field of research. In all projects, collaboration with national and international stakeholders and the public sector forms an integral part of the Institute’s approach.
Priority research areas include education, human migration, the workplace and institutions as well as methods to evaluate language competence. Institute researchers conduct in-house research projects and participate in national and international programmes; they also take on third-party research and development projects. In addition to research, the Institute participates in doctoral programmes and is an important point of contact for information on multilingualism.
Founded in 2008, the Institute of Multilingualism is operated jointly by the University of Fribourg and the University of Teacher Education Fribourg and affiliated with both institutions. The Adolphe Merkle Foundation and the Foundation for Research and Development of Multilingualism of the Canton of Fribourg secure its core funding.
The Institute has managed the federally funded Research Centre on Multilingualism since 2011, the year of the Centre’s establishment. Together with the University of Teacher Education Fribourg, the Institute is also responsible for operating the Centre for Foreign Language Pedagogy, which was founded in 2019.
The Institute collaborates with the following institutions:
- Association Babylonia Switzerland
- Centre for Democracy Studies Aarau (ZDA)
- Centre for Foreign Language Pedagogy CeDiLE
- Centre de recherches en éducation franco-ontarienne CREFO, Université de Toronto, Canada
- Comunicación Intercultural Estrategias de Negociación CIEN der Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spanien
- Federal Statistical Office
- Forum du bilinguisme Biel/Bienne
- Fribourg University of Teacher Education, Unité de recherche Inégalités, Diversité et Institutions scolaires
- Gesellschaft für angewandte Linguistik
- Graubünden University of Teacher Education
- New York Graduate Center, USA
- Swiss association for foreign language teaching and learning ADLES
- St. Gallen University of Teacher Education
- Thurgau University of Teacher Education
- University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI)
- University of Bern, Center for the Study of Language and Society
- University of Fribourg, Department of Multilingualism and Foreign Language Education
- University of Fribourg, English Department
- University of Fribourg, Language Centre
- University of Geneva, Département de langue et de littérature allemandes and Observatoire ÉLF
- University of Jyväskylä, Department of Language and Communication Studies, Finland
- University of Neuchâtel, Glossaire des patois de la Suisse romande
- University of Teacher Education Zug
- Vaud University of Teacher Education
- Zurich University of Teacher Education
The Board of Directors is responsible for managing the Institute’s research activities as well as its administrative duties. The Board defines the roster of activities, determines the budget, approves the annual financial statements and oversees the annual report. In addition to hiring staff, the Board concludes contracts on behalf of the Institute and decides on the modalities of research mandates. The Board is made up of the following members:
- Professor Thomas Studer, (director), University of Fribourg
- Professor Raphael Berthele, University of Fribourg
- Professor Alexandre Duchêne, University of Teacher Education Fribourg
- Professor Anita Thomas, University of Fribourg
- Susanne Obermayer, Institute of Multilingualism
The Institute Council is made up of members delegated by the University of Fribourg and the University of Teacher Education Fribourg, the two sponsoring institutions. The Council is responsible for planning, determining and overseeing the Institute’s general activities. It decides on strategic issues and it authorises the budget, the annual financial statements, the annual report and agreements with other institutions. The Council is made up of the following members:
- Prof. Dr. Christelle Hayoz (President), dean HEP|PH FR
- Professor Katharina M. Fromm (Vice-president), Vice-rector University of Fribourg
- Dr. Bertrand Forclaz, HEP|PH FR
- Professor Winfried Kronig, University of Fribourg
- Professor Didier Maillat, University of Fribourg
- France Rousset, Institute of Multilingualims (representative of non-professoral academic staff), University of Fribourg
- Prof. Yves Schubnel, HEP|PH FR
- Aynur Demir Uner, University of Fribourg, AGEF (student representative)
The Adolphe Merkle Foundation and the Foundation for Research and Development of Multilingualism of the Canton of Fribourg provide the Institute with core funding of approximately CHF 300'000.- per year since its establishment in 2008. This funding makes the development of the Institute's activities possible. The Foundation Council meets twice yearly for a briefing on the Institute’s activities and to advise where necessary. It is made up of the following members:
- Sylvie Bonvin-Sansonnens, (President), Cantonal Councilmember and Director of Education and Culture
- Laurent Yerly, Cantonal Treasurer
- Professor Katharina Fromm, Vice Rector of the University of Fribourg
- Prof. Dr. Christelle Hayoz, dean University of Teacher Education Fribourg
- Professor Claude Regamey MD, Adolphe Merkle Foundation
- Professor Johannes Flury, President Lia Rumantscha
Dr. Claudine Brohy
Prof. Helen Christen
Dr. Bertrand Forclaz
Prof. Matthias Grünert
Prof. em. Walter Haas
Prof. Richard Huyghe
Prof. Winfried Kronig
Prof. Didier Maillat
Prof. Tania Ogay
Dr. Romain Racine
Prof. em. Dr. Günther Schneider
Prof. Damir Skenderovic
Dr. Mariana Steiner
Prof. Muriel Surdez
At the Research Centre on Multilingualism (RCM), the Institute conducts applied research on behalf of the Swiss Confederation to benefit the academic community as well as persons in professional practice and public administration. The research projects at RCM pursue a wide range of objectives: the establishment of basic principles or criteria for decisions; research-based development of (classroom) materials; evaluation of programmes and materials/textbooks; compilation of synthesis reports on current research in selected areas; and conducting research commissioned by third parties.
To realise these projects, RCM works with research partners from all language regions in Switzerland. To promote collaboration and dialogue with other persons and organisations interested in the field of multilingualism, RCM regularly invites researchers to talks and discussions and is active in professional associations.
RCM is also active in service provision: the staff compile and document academic findings and materials on the topic of multilingualism, and are a point of contact for persons seeking information on multilingualism. All RCM documentation is available online or on site at the Library for foreign languages and multilingualism.
RCM is supported by an advisory committee whose members are appointed by the Swiss government. The committee is made up of representatives from relevant federal offices and the Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education, and is charged with assessing RCM’s research programme. In addition, RCM is advised by an international academic advisory board that regularly evaluates the Centre’s research activities.
Since its foundation in 2011, RCM operates on the basis of numerous long-term performance agreements with the federal government in which the research mandate is specified.