Linguistic Diversity


Linguistic Diversity

Scotland census under fire for sidelining foreign languages

28 February 2019 (The Scotsman)

The growing number of multilingual speakers in Scotland are being sidelined by the country’s census which portrays a “monolingual English-only speaking country”, experts have warned.

There are now calls for the changes to the next national census in 2021, to better reflect the “linguistic diversity” of the country. Think tank Reform Scotland says the current system “conveys a negative attitude to languages.”

MSPs will today vote on the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill at Holyrood, but there are calls for a more suitable question about the languages spoken in Scotland.

Reform Scotland Research Director Alison Payne said: “We do not know precisely how extensively other languages are spoken in Scottish households, because sufficient data does not exist to tell us this due to the flawed nature of the census question.

“We can fix this relatively simply, by asking a better question, and indeed a question which does not suggest speaking a language other than English is a bad thing.

“A minor change will give us more accurate and better data which can help inform government strategy to encourage more people to speak more languages.”

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How your language reflects the senses you use

27 February 2019 (BBC)

Which do you find easier to describe: the colour of grass, or its smell? The answer may depend on where you are from – and, more specifically, which language you grew up speaking.

Humans are often characterised as visual beings. If you are a native English speaker, you may intuitively agree. After all, English has a rich vocabulary for colours and geometric shapes, but few words for smells. However, a recent global study suggests that whether we mainly experience the world by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or feeling varies hugely across cultures. And this preference is reflected in our language.

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The language of conversation impacts on the 'synchronization' of our brains

14 February 2019 (Science Daily)

Experts from the Basque research centre BCBL have shown for the first time that the way in which the activity of two brains is connected depends on whether the dialogue takes place in the native language or in a foreign language.

As two people speak, their brains begin to work simultaneously, synchronizing and establishing a unique bond. This is what in neuroscience is called brain synchronization.

New research by the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language (BCBL) in San Sebastián and published in Cortex magazine confirms that this phenomenon depends on the language we use to communicate.

The study, carried out with the collaboration of several international institutions such as the University of Toronto (Canada) and the Nebrija University of Madrid, has allowed scientists to analyze how brain wave synchrony occurs in different linguistic contexts.

Thus, experts have found for the first time that the way in which the activity of two brains becomes synchronized or similar depends on the language used in the conversation.

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International Year of Indigenous Languages

10 January 2019 (UNESCO)

Indigenous languages matter for social, economic and political development, peaceful coexistence and reconciliation in our societies. Yet many of them are in danger of disappearing. It is for this reason that the United Nations declared 2019 the Year of Indigenous Languages in order to encourage urgent action to preserve, revitalise and promote them.

The official global launch of IYIL2019 takes place in Paris, France on 28 January 2019.

A special website has also been dedicated to the event, which will be commemorated by UNESCO’s members and partners throughout 2019.

Visit the IYIL2019 website to find out more about the year's aims and how you can get involved.

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European Day of Languages – 26 September 2018: Statement from Council of Europe Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland

26 September 2018 (ECML/COE)

“Understanding each other is the key to benefitting from Europe’s rich cultural diversity. Language education helps us to do this and to embrace other cultures and ways of life.

The European Day of Languages, initiated by the Council of Europe, is held each year on 
26 September. It provides an opportunity to celebrate Europe’s unique linguistic context, and serves as an impetus for people of all ages and backgrounds to broaden their horizons and discover the added value of being able to communicate in other languages.

Languages and culture go hand in hand. This year, which is the EU-designated European Year of Cultural Heritage, hundreds of events are being organised around the continent by schools, universities, and cultural institutions and associations to mark the European Day of Languages and send a powerful message of openness to one another. My best wishes go to all of those taking part.”

www.coe.int/EDL

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Background information on the Day

The European Day of Languages (EDL) is an annual celebration day to encourage language learning across Europe. At the initiative of the Council of Europe, EDL has been celebrated every year, on 26 September, since the European Year of Languages in 2001.

The specific aims of the EDL are to:

  • raise awareness of the importance of language learning in order to increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding;
  • promote the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe;
  • encourage lifelong language learning in and out of school.

The dedicated website for the EDL is available in 37 languages and hundreds of activities are registered in the events’ calendar. The EDL activities which take place in Europe and increasingly on other continents are organised mainly by schools, universities, language and cultural institutes, associations and also by the European Commission’s translation field offices. In 2017 over 1250 events involving tens of thousands of participants were recorded.

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European Day of Languages 2018

24 August 2018 (SCILT)

The European Day of Languages (EDL) is celebrated across Europe on the 26th of September every year. It aims to promote the rich linguistic diversity of Europe and raise awareness of the importance of lifelong language learning for everyone.

SCILT is helping schools across Scotland to celebrate by distributing materials developed by the ECML. These resources are free to order and act as excellent prizes and rewards.

Visit our European Day of Languages 2018 webpage for information on how to order packs, for ideas on how to celebrate, and to find out how your school could feature in our EDL 2018 blog.

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Creative Multilingualism

14 June 2018 (University of Oxford)

Creative Multilingualism is a 4-year research programme aiming to release the creative potential of languages, shine a spotlight on the UK's hidden multilingualism and celebrate the many benefits of language learning.

Visit the Creative Multilingualism website to explore the programme and projects.

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Graeme High pupil wins multilingual poetry award

2 April 2018 (Falkirk Herald)

The multilingual talents of budding poets from Graeme High and Moray Primary were celebrated in the 2018 Mother Tongue Other Tongue awards. 

Graeme High pupil Danai Nikitea was crowned the winner of the Mother Tongue category during a prestigious ceremony at University of Strathclyde on March 17. 

While Kole Murray from Moray Primary and Harely Ewen and Simi Singh, both from Graeme High, were Highly Commended in the Other Tongue category. 

These students used their language skills to create and share poetry for the ceremony.

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Languages Lost and Found (Being Human Festival)

12 October 2017 (University of Dundee/UCMLS)

A series of events celebrating languages and cultures across Scotland as part of the UK’s annual Being Human Festival of the Humanities, 'Languages Lost & Found' aims to make visible the often hidden richness and diversity of languages and cultures in Scottish society through community-led workshops and demonstrations.

Events will take place simultaneously on 18 November in a number of locations across Scotland, and activities will vary by location. The event series is organised by the University Council for Modern Languages Scotland with support from Scotland's National Centre for Languages and British Council Scotland and financial support by the AHRC Modern Languages Leadership Fellow funds (Prof. Janice Carruthers).

Visit the website for more information.

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European Day of Languages - SCILT blog

5 October 2017 (SCILT)

How did you celebrate the European Day of Languages 2017? Visit our EDL 2017 blog to see how schools used fashion shows, poetry slams and lots of food to celebrate the linguistic diversity of Europe this year!

If you would like to feature in our EDL blog then send a description of your activities and some colourful photos to scilt@strath.ac.uk. The best entries might even make it into the next SCILT newsletter!

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European Language Gazette Issue 37

31 August 2017 (ECML)

The May-July 2017 edition of the European Centre for Modern Language's newsletter is now available online.

The European Language Gazette highlights the latest developments, programmes and initiatives in language education in Europe.

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New Content Announcement for Language Show Scotland 2017!

10 February 2017 (Language Show Live)

Language Show Live, 10-11 March at the SEC, Glasgow

Europe’s largest event dedicated to language teaching and learning is just 1 month away and the teaching seminar, TEFL forum and language class line ups have all been announced and are now live online! Every seminar at this free-to-attend event is fully CPD accredited and packed full of exclusive content. Head online today to claim your free ticket and enjoy all the content that Europe’s premier language event has to offer.

Remember: Alongside our trademark seminar, workshop and panel session line ups we also have our fantastic cultural piazza stage, free language taster classes, over 80 exhibitor and much, much more!
Language Show Live Scotland logo

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In or out of the EU, UK businesses can’t afford to reject language learning

6 December 2016 (CEO)

Brexit has raised many questions over the future competitive trading position of Britain in Europe. While the economic impact of the political upheaval still plays out, it is a good time to pause and reflect on the fact that for a long time, UK companies have put themselves at a disadvantage in Europe; perhaps without even realising it. That disadvantage comes from a lack of language skills.

While it’s fair to say that English is the lingua franca of many corporations, it is also true that global companies can enjoy richer, more productive interactions with customers, suppliers, overseas colleagues and partners when they are able to operate within different cultures in different languages.

And while enhancing and improving business relationships is a universally useful endeavor, it would be a mistake to think that language skills in business are a matter of mere social niceties. In fact, they have significant material impact on the bottom line. Mark Herbert at the British Council summed it up nicely when he cited the estimated, “tens of billions in missed trade and business opportunities every year” resulting from the UK’s shortage of language skills.

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Scots Makar, Jackie Kay, supports MTOT

4 November 2016 (SCILT)

We are delighted to have Jackie Kay, the national laureate, as patron for this year's Mother Tongue Other Tongue multilingual poetry competition for schools in Scotland.

Hear Jackie's message supporting the aims and values of the competition in the video on our MTOT webpage.

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Supporting Bilingual Learners in the Mainstream Classroom

13 October 2016 (University of Strathclyde/SCILT)

Do you work with bilingual learners? Would you like to develop your ability to support them to develop their linguistic competence and to learn through English in mainstream primary or secondary classrooms?

This course is designed to enable you to understand and act on theories of bilingual learning and policy to support bilingual learners in Scottish schools, and to gain experience of current classroom-based practice in Scotland and around the world.

The next course starts on 14 January and runs from January to December 2017 at the University of Strathclyde. Classes are held at the University on Saturdays, on average once a month. See the attached leaflet for further information.

For information on other initiatives and organisations supporting bilingualism and multilingualism in Scotland, visit the EAL and Bilingualism webpages in the Learners and Parents section of the SCILT website.

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Speaking a second language changes how you see the world

12 October 2016 (The Week)

There are two versions of the writer Lauren Collins. There is the English-speaking Lauren, who, presumably, is the Lauren primarily responsible for writing her (wonderful) new memoir, When in French. And then there is the French-speaking Lauren, the one tasked with navigating a marriage and a life in a second language. In her new book, she tells the story of falling in love with a Frenchman, marrying him, and relocating with him to Switzerland; a passage toward the end depicts one of the sillier but still salient differences between the two Laurens...

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£3.9 million modern languages research project launched in Manchester

11 October 2016 (University of Manchester)

A consortium led by The University of Manchester has launched a four-year language research project which aims to demonstrate the UK’s critical need for modern languages research and teaching. The project will collaborate with schools and universities to develop curriculum innovations, and strengthen university commitments to local community heritage.

The launch of ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’, which is funded by an AHRC Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) grant, took place at The University of Manchester. They are leading a consortium which includes 11 other universities, city councils, the Royal Opera House, Tyneside Cinema, political think tank Chatham House, and a sixth-form college known for its strengths in modern languages.

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European Day of Languages - SCILT blog

30 September 2016 (SCILT)

How did you celebrate the European Day of Languages 2016? Visit our EDL 2016 blog to hear how schools used cooking, bingo, green screens and Eurovision to celebrate the linguistic diversity of Europe this year!

If you would like to feature in our EDL blog then send some colourful photos and a description of your activities to scilt@strath.ac.uk.

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MOOC: Multilingual Learning for a Globalised World

3 June 2016 (Future Learn)

This free 3-week online course, commencing 13 June 2016, will explore multilingual education and how it can impact and improve education and even wider society.

Our languages are an essential part of who we are as human beings. They are instruments of communication and are often a source of dignity and of human pride. Our life experiences and views of the world are bound up in our languages.

In week 3 you can hear about the Mother Tongue Other Tongue multilingual poetry competition, where school pupils are invited to express themselves either in the language they speak at home or in one they are learning at school, and which will be run again in Scotland by SCILT in the new term.

For more information about the course and to enrol, visit the Future Learn website.

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Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016

25 May 2016 (EIFF)

The programme for the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016 taking place from 15-26 June has just been launched.

There are two foreign language films showing as part of the Junior festival strand. Find out more about each by following the appropriate link:

  • The Canterville Ghost (Le Fantôme de Canterville, French, age 8+) - an aristocratic French ghost tries to prevent a family moving into her castle
  • The Shamer’s Daughter (Skammerens datter, Dutch, age 10+) - a medieval fantasy epic
For more information about this year's festival and all the films on offer, visit the EIFF 2016 website.

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Can Facebook data tell us how European Scotland is?

20 May 2016 (STV)

Will Britain stay in Europe or leave?

I couldn't say but what I can be sure of is that this will dominate discussions from political journalists and many others from different sections of society.

A large part of the debate is centred on freedom of movement within Europe.

The European Union is a melting pot, a mixture of cultures, languages and peoples from various different backgrounds. To some, this is positive and to others a threat to the job markets in each member state.

Personally, I love it. On my walk from the station to the office, I pick up a number of different languages. As culturally diverse journeys go, from the New Town to Leith is like strolling through New York City.

So, just how diverse is Scotland?

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Colours of the Alphabet screenings in Scotland

29 April 2016 (Colours of the Alphabet)

Liz Lochhead will be launching the Scottish preview tour of 'Colours of the Alphabet' at the GFT on 11 May and taking part in a post screening discussion on the relationship between language and childhood with director Alastair Cole and producer Nick Higgins.

The launch event will mark the opening night of a run of 11 screenings and discussions across Scotland during which the filmmakers and guest contributors will discuss the issue of mother-tongue education and the impact of teaching additional languages in primary schools.

Visit the website for a full list of dates and venues and to secure your tickets. Places are limited.

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EDL 2015 blog

2 October 2015 (SCILT)

How did you celebrate the European Day of Languages 2015? Visit our EDL 2015 blog to hear how schools used language cafés, Bollywood dancing, calligraphy and singing to celebrate language learning in Europe this year!

If you would like to feature in our EDL blog then send some colourful photos and a description of your activities to scilt@strath.ac.uk.

Read more...

EDL 2015 - not long to go!

17 September 2015 (SCILT)

It's now only one week until the European Day of Languages 2015, how is your school celebrating?

If you are still looking for ideas there are plenty for primary and secondary classes on our EDL webpage, along with links to websites and other resources.

Let us know how you celebrate and we will feature you in our EDL 2015 blog. We will even pick some of the most innovative events to highlight in our next newsletter!

Email scilt@strath.ac.uk with a short blurb and some colourful pictures from your event, ensuring you have the relevant photo permissions. 

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EDL 2015: Ideas to celebrate in your school

28 August 2015 (SCILT)

This year SCILT's European Day of Languages packs have been more popular than ever! We are now officially out of stock, having sent materials to over 70 schools and posting out more than twice as many packs as last year.

However, there are still lots of ways to celebrate EDL in your school and SCILT has put together great ideas to support you in your celebrations. We have grouped them into primary and secondary ideas and provided a suggested timeframe for each activity.

Visit our EDL 2015 webpage to download our suggestions and to find many more ideas and resources.

Read more...

European Day of Languages 2015

13 August 2015 (SCILT)

The European Day of Languages (EDL) is celebrated across Europe on the 26th of September every year. It aims to promote the rich linguistic diversity of Europe and raise awareness of the importance of lifelong language learning for everyone.

SCILT is helping schools across Scotland to celebrate by distributing materials developed by the ECML. These resources are free to order and act as excellent prizes and rewards.

Visit our European Day of Languages 2015 webpage for information on how to order packs, for ideas on how to celebrate, and to find out how your school could feature in our EDL2015 blog.

Read more...

More than 300 different languages spoken in British schools, report says

24 July 2015 (The Telegraph)

More than 300 different languages are now spoken in British schools with English-speaking pupils becoming a minority in hundreds of classrooms, a new investigation has revealed.

There are 1.1 million children who speak 311 dialects and in some schools English speakers are the minority, the inquiry revealed.

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Valuing Languages

6 April 2015 (Huffington Post)

We are moving toward one tongue: 97% of the world speaks only 4% of the world's languages. Once we realized that plant and animal species were disappearing from the earth, we worked to protect them out of concern that losing even a single species may have dire consequences for the well-being of the whole planet. We need to do the same for languages.

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Multilingual families: 'Even our dog uses three languages'

13 March 2015 (The Guardian)

No matter what your family’s heritage, parenting has a common lexicon: brush your teeth, look up from that screen or stop bashing your brother can be found in most family phrasebooks.

But what if the language you were born with differs from the one your kids use daily at school, or if you and your partner each have different native languages?

Today almost one in five children in UK primary schools now has a mother tongue other than English. According to Professor Antonella Sorace, director of the Bilingualism Matters centre at Edinburgh University, the demand for information and advice on how to navigate the challenges of bilingual parenting is now “enormous”.

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Four British languages in danger of becoming extinct

9 November 2014 (The Independent)

Tourists looking for sun and sea but keen for something extra from their holiday break can now help save an ancient language.

Four languages spoken on British territories feature on a new "endangered" list, with the numbers of people using them seriously dwindling. There are particular fears for the future of Jersey French and Guernsey French, which are marked as "severely endangered" on a list of 33 under-threat languages.

Read more...

Related Links

These 33 European languages are all in danger of going extinct (The Independent, 9 November 2014)

London Language Festival - the highlights

21 October 2014 (The Guardian)

The Language Festival may have set out to be a celebration of cultural and linguistic diversity, but the first session of the weekend – the Born Global Symposium – didn't shy away from some of the big, and difficult, questions around the state of language learning in the UK.

Read more...

European Day of Languages - new features on the ECML website

24 September 2014 (ECML)

The ECML dedicated European Day of Languages website has a great variety of ideas and resources to celebrate EDL 2014 in your school. This year there are a number of new features on the website:

  • Versions of the website in 28 different languages
  • Sign language game - find out European country names in International Sign Language and test yourself
  • Language trivia - some well-known and not so well-known characteristics of specific languages
  • European Day of Languages Photo Contest 2014 - anyone of any age in a Council of Europe member state can enter, this year's theme is 'Language learning in action'

as well as language facts, games, quizzes and much more! Visit the ECML European Day of Languages website to find out more about the new features and to access these wonderful resources.

Read more...

European Day of Languages - Council of Europe Statement

24 September 2014 (Council of Europe)

To mark the European Day of Languages, the Council of Europe Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland, has issued the following statement:

European Day of Languages: challenging mindsets and embracing diversity

“On 26 September we celebrate Europe’s rich linguistic diversity. Let us take a moment to remember the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery – that language is often the source of misunderstandings. Language can be used as a weapon, as an excuse to discriminate and humiliate.

Together we can ensure that languages, rather than being the source of misunderstanding, become the key to intercultural dialogue and mutual respect. To do this, we must challenge existing mindsets and embrace diversity.

The Council of Europe demonstrates a strong commitment to all of Europe’s languages: through its work on the protection of regional or minority languages, in developing common standards for teaching and measuring linguistic competence, and in supporting states to implement inclusive approaches to language education. 

So while we celebrate the Day of Languages today, in Strasbourg, in Graz together with the European Centre for Modern Languages, and through the many innovative events taking place all around Europe, let us recognise the powerful role languages play in helping to build and maintain tolerant, peaceful and inclusive societies.” 

Poverty is the biggest problem in my diverse school, not language barriers

3 August 2014 (The Guardian)

Lee Abbott, headteacher at Hillside Community primary school, where pupils speak more than 58 languages, explains why low expectations are his biggest challenge.

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Drop the negative spin on kids who start school bilingual – they are a rich resource for the future

1 July 2014 (The Conversation)

There are now more than 1.1 million children in our schools whose first language “is known or believed to be other than English” according to the latest government figures. This confirms a continuous upwards trend that shows no sign of abating.

Many of the 300 or so languages spoken in schools have relatively few speakers but about 20 languages are spoken by 10,000 or more pupils. These children represent a considerable resource. But we are not making the most of it and are even cutting specialist language support for these pupils.

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European Elections and the Future of Linguistic Diversity

13 May 2014 (Language Rich Europe blog)

In a fortnight’s time it’ll be the European elections. NPLD is eager for a new approach on languages to be adopted to explore the potential benefits – personal, social and economic – that linguistic diversity has for Europe.

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Free ebook – “Promoting Plurilingualism – majority language in multilingual settings”

28 January 2014 (ECML)

A free downloadable ebook from ECML which provides tools for majority language teachers focused on recognising, supporting and promoting plurilingualism. Registration is required.

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The five cities with the most developed language policies

5 September 2013 (Language Rich Europe)

According to LRE data, the five cities with the most developed language policies are in ranked order Vienna, Barcelona, London, Milan and Krakow.

Language Rich Europe research provides a rich source of cross-national insights into multilingualism across the education sectors. This week we highlight Language Rich Europe findings in public services and spaces.

Language policies and strategies at city level were explored, as well as the number of languages in which public services are offered. In addition, city representatives reported the actual languages available in both written and oral communication in education, emergency, health, social, legal, transport, immigration, and tourism services, as well as theatre programmes.

Aberdeen and Glasgow feature amongst the cities offering the most oral communication services in the most languages.

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Between the pear and the cheese, combing the giraffe is a monkey sandwich story

4 January 2013 (Guardian)

A book on international idioms reveals much about our national characters.

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The Coaches: part four

20 November 2012 (Twitter - UEFA on YouTube)

UEFA.com speaks to the likes of Carlo Ancelotti, Gérard Houllier, Arsène Wenger and Roy Hodgson about how they handle multilingual squads.

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