Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Quick Launch


 Redirect to


 AThEME: Advancing the European Multilingual Experience


AThEME is a collaborative research project studying bilingualism and multilingualism in Europe. Findings from the project will be disseminated by branches of Bilingualism Matters as they become available.

See a list of participating branches of Bilingualism Matters

On this page

  • Why study multilingualism in Europe?
  • What is AThEME?
  • What questions does AThEME want to answer?
  • Bilingualism Matters and De Taalstudio in partnership with AThEME
  • Our partner institutions

  • Why study multilingualism in Europe?

    Multilingualism in Europe has many different facets. Several European countries are officially bilingual, but Europe is also made up of a multitude of regional and heritage languages. In fact, according to a recent survey1, over 50% of European citizens can converse in more than one language.

    There is huge variety in those who can be classed as multilingual. For example, people may acquire a second language as young children, teenagers or adults. Some people might speak one language at home and a different language at work, whereas others might speak different languages with different family members. Different speakers also have different levels of proficiency.

    These are just some of the reasons why Europe is the perfect test case for studying how multilingualism works at all levels of society.

    1 View the 2012 Eurobarometer survey on Europeans and their languages (.pdf)

    What is AThEME?

    AThEME stands for Advancing the European Multilingual Experience. AThEME was set up with funding from the European Commission, in order to study bilingualism and multilingualism in Europe. The project will run from March 2014 until March 2019.

    AThEME will use a range of methods such as linguistic analysis and psychological experiments to look at multilingualism in Europe from different perspectives. We want to raise awareness of multilingualism in policy makers, health professionals, academics and educators.

    To achieve this, researchers from 17 partner institutions across 8 European countries will study multilingualism in Europe at three different levels:

  • The individual multilingual citizen
  • The multilingual group
  • The multilingual society
  • See a list of institutions taking part in AThEME

    What questions does AThEME want to answer?

    AThEME aims to gain a better understanding of what it means to be bilingual or multilingual, by shedding light on questions such as:

  • Are there any cognitive benefits of multilingualism for senior citizens?
  • How and why do people succeed (or fail) in learning new languages?
  • What factors help or hinder heritage language maintenance?
  • How does multilingualism interact with communicative disorders such as aphasia?
  • Which societal factors have the biggest impact on the successful maintenance of multilingualism?
  • The answers to these questions will help us to assess European policies and practices in areas such as education and health, and to make new policy recommendations.

    Bilingualism Matters and De Taalstudio in partnership with AThEME

    AThEME is for everyone, whether you are currently bilingual or not. Project findings will be disseminated and communicated through policy briefs, workshops, publications and local events in participating countries.

    To achieve this, AThEME will build on Bilingualism Matters, a successful public outreach initiative that connects researchers with families, educators, health care workers, and policy makers across Europe.

    Bilingualism Matters branches will be set up in all countries participating in the AThEME project, so that findings can be communicated at the local level, as well as internationally.

    Bilingualism Matters will work in partnership with De Taalstudio, a small-medium enterprise based in Amsterdam, whose work focusses on language and multilingualism. De Taalstudio have extensive experience in disseminating information about multilingualism to different sectors of society. Together, AThEME, Bilingualism Matters, and De Taalstudio will raise awareness of multilingualism in Europe, and empower people to make informed decisions.

    For news and updates on the AThEME project, sign up for our newsletter, or keep in touch with your local branch, below:

    Bilingualism Matters in the United Kingdom

    Bilingualism Matters in Italy

    Bilingualism Matters in Germany

    Bilingualism Matters in Croatia

    Bilingualism Matters in Netherlands

    Bilingualism Matters in Slovenia

    Bilingualism Matters in France

    Bilingualism Matters in Spain

    Our partner institutions

    Institutions involved in AThEME are listed below, by country.


  • University of Rijeka, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • France

  • Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique
  • Université de Nantes
  • Germany

  • Universitat Konstanz
  • Italy

  • Universita degli Studi di Trento
  • Universita degli Studi di Verona
  • Netherlands

  • De Taalstudio
  • Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen
  • Universiteit Leiden
  • Universiteit Utrecht
  • Slovenia

  • Univerza v Nova Gorici
  • Spain

  • Basque Centre on Cognition, Brain and Language
  • Universidad del País Vasco
  • Universidad Pompeu Fabra
  • United Kingdom

  • Queen Mary University of London
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Reading

     Latest articles and reports


     Keep up to date with our e-newsletter


     AThEME is supported by the European Commission


    EU multilingualism portal: Supporting language diversity in Europe

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


     Contact us

    General enquiries:

    Media enquiries and information on dissemination:

    Leiden University Centre for Linguistics
    Postbus 9515
    NL-2300 RA Leiden



    Multilingual: a person or group of people speaking more than two languages

    Heritage language: a language learnt at home which is different from the majority language in the community

    Regional language: a language spoken in a particular area, and which is not an official language of the state