Slovene: The Slovene language in education in Austria (3rd ed.)

Charlie Robinson-Jones (Editor), Ramziè Krol-Hage (Editor), Katharina Thomas (Editor), Ursula Doleschal

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Slovene and its status in education in Austria

In a defined area of Southern Carinthia, Austria, Slovene is protected as a minority language. Despite being an officially recognised minority language, the official use of Slovene is limited to few domains. In the 2001 census, 12,554 Austrian citizens reported that they use Slovene in everyday life. Although pre-school education is not part of the Austrian education system, bilingual nursery schools are funded by the province. Bilingual primary and lower secondary education are granted by law in the southern part of Carinthia; this is executed as bilingual teaching in primary school and as language teaching in lower secondary school. There are two bilingual upper secondary schools, and one with Slovene as the language of instruction. At the tertiary level, Slovene can be studied at the universities of Klagenfurt, Graz, and Vienna. Teacher education is provided by the university college of teacher training Carinthia and the universities of Klagenfurt, Graz and Vienna. Outside the legally defined territory, Slovene can be offered as a subject at every educational level. The overall number of pupils and students studying (in) Slovene, however, is low.

Slovene in educational research

Research on bilingual education and education in Slovene is mostly conducted by the University of Klagenfurt/Celovec (Department of Education and Department of Slavonic Studies), the University College for Teacher Education Carinthia, and sometimes by teacher education students in Graz and Vienna, and at Slovenian universities. The teaching and perception of teaching of Slovene have been investigated using interviews; however, there has been little classroom research. Such studies have consistently highlighted similar issues of bilingual education in Carinthia, indicating that hardly any improvements have been made.

Prospects for Slovene in Austria

Since the public use of Slovene is generally not accepted by the majority population, securing its continuous autochthonous existence will be challenging. Slovene is nowadays learned and regarded mostly as a second or foreign language, which negatively impacts use. Measures have, however, been taken to improve education in Slovene, and increasingly more children without knowledge of the language are being enrolled in bilingual schools and nurseries, which safeguards the existence of Slovene as a minority language and promotes multilingualism and a tolerant attitude towards other languages. Nevertheless, only by raising the prestige of Slovene as a vernacular language in Austria could other measures be successful.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLeeuwarden/Ljouwert
PublisherMercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning
Number of pages78
ISBN (Print)1570-1239
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2023

Publication series

NameRegional Dossier series
PublisherMercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning
ISSN (Print)1570-1239


  • Slovene
  • Austria
  • language education
  • minority languages
  • multilingual education
  • multilingualism
  • multilingualism in education


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