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Why languages and internationalism matter more than ever

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Language, languages and international culture have never been more important to our country and our region.

Steven Fawkes, Association of Language Learning

This is the first in a series of articles about the importance – and the joy – of language learning and internationalism. Part of Our Newcastle Our World international plan ambitions for children and young people (0-30):

A city that sees itself as international, is one that celebrates the diversity of its populace, its confidence in its own cultures and its openness to the rest of the world.  We have a lot to look forward to.

Languages are life-enhancing

Far from being ‘just a subject you do for a while at school’ learning a new language, any new language, is literally life-enhancing!

  • language learning can have important beneficial effects on your brain
  • it can introduce you to a whole new world of sporting, cookery and cultural activity online (or in the flesh when times permit)
  • it can put you in contact with people you would never otherwise meet who become friends for life, as is my case personally
  • language learning can help you understand your own language and discover new ideas about lifestyles
  • language learning can also have a great impact on your job opportunities.      

Looking outwards and connecting

At the moment ‘Little Britain’ has become even ‘littler’ than usual as our horizons are limited by the very sensible constraints imposed by Governments, but there is still a world out there with beautiful things to see, places to go – even if virtually – performances and exhibitions to be inspired by – and people!

People are individual, clever, amusing, provocative, informative and downright weird, of course, not only here at home, but all over the world. Their antics in video (e.g. with funny cats) are no less funny because they are speaking another language! That is especially clear in an Olympics year (a long year this time around).

Celebrating language teachers

Language teachers have a complex job to do because they are encouraging people (of all ages) not only to learn (vocabulary, sounds, grammar etc.), but also to use what they learn – straight away – in a live performance – in writing and speech – in another language!

When it goes well it is a hugely positive experience, which boosts everyone’s confidence and self-image! However, the process of motivation and inspiration (of learners) means that language teachers need ongoing communication with each other – to keep our own flame alive!

Help is at hand

ALL (the Association for Language Learning) is a charity that supports language learning particularly through teaching and through teachers, who are our members.

In the current context of Covid-19, we are signposting resources, support and CPD opportunities available online through our website offering this information freely to all interested.

There is also a members’ area of the website of course and some services are only available to members. You can find out more here.  

ALL also has local groups (listed on the website) which are continuing to try to support teachers in the regions also. In the North-East I chair the ALLNE Branch and have a mailing list through which updates, announcements of events and competitions and occasional special offers are circulated. (These are replicated on the International Newcastle website, or you can join by contacting me).

Links and information

For more information about Newcastle’s plans and activities around to celebrate and promote languages and internationalism:

Language Resources:

For further information about why learning languages is important, positive messaging and research and advocacy:

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