MEITS Blog


The Challenges of bilingual language education: the case of Chinese and Mongolian in China

by Jiaye Wu

Europeans know of some kinds of bilingual education - Welsh English in Wales, English as a foreign language in most of Europe, German as a second language for Syrian refugees, for example. You don’t hear so much in Europe about bilingual education in China, despite the existence of 55 recognized ethnic minorities, each with their own language. But that – or more precisely, one example of it, Mongolian-Chinese education – is the focus of my PhD.

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Languages for all?

by Karen Forbes

On 17th January 2020 the House of Commons published a briefing paper on language teaching in schools in England. It highlights results from a European Commission survey which reported that only 32% of 16-30 year olds in the UK felt confident reading and writing in two or more languages. To put this in (a rather dismal) perspective, the average across all EU member states is 80%.

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Translation as performance in “Found in Translation: Literary Dispatches from the Peripheries of Europe”

by Delphine Grass

What happens when we have to work or interact with languages we do not understand?  How much does performance play a part in literary and poetry translations? “Found in Translation: Literary Dispatches from the Peripheries of Europe”, a MEITS funded event I curated on the 29 March 2019 as part of my “Translation as Creative Critical Practice” research project, has recently encouraged me to think of translation as a performance in its own right.

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Plurilingualism in the flesh – tales from an academic’s travels

by Nicola McLelland

I’m just back from travels in Luxembourg (well, the airport!), Switzerland and Germany. German specialists like me love to cite Luxembourg and Switzerland as examples of societal multilingualism, where individual plurilingualism is very common. So it was interesting to experience the reality. Not all was entirely as I expected.

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A drop-down menu for languages? Historical-sociolinguistic research in the archives

by Andreas Krogull

Archives are wonderful places. They allow us not only to, quite literally, touch the past, but also to learn a lot about languages and how these were used centuries ago. As a historical sociolinguist working on the history of Dutch, I have visited countless archives over the past few years, mostly in the Netherlands, in order to collect data. Following the research tradition that is known as language history ‘from below’, I am particularly interested in handwritten sources from the private domain, such as letters and diaries. These first-person accounts give us unique insights into ‘ordinary’ language use, which has been neglected in traditional history writing, but can still be found in the archives

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Why are Breton speakers protesting about street names?

by Merryn Davies-Deacon

Speaking and promoting minoritised languages often involves struggles against the nation state. In some cases, these struggles can be on a local level. In Brittany, one especially current issue is the “francisation”—Frenchification—of place names. A protest was organised in September in Telgruc-sur-Mer, a small town in the far west of Brittany, an area where the vast majority of names come from Breton, including the name Telgruc itself.

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A bright future for the Welsh Language

by Katie Howard

The Welsh government aims to reach 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050, and there is little doubt that great progress has been made. The number of Welsh speakers has risen from 25% to just under 30% of the population of Wales over the last decade. Plans are afoot to significantly increase Welsh-medium school places over the coming years, with parents choosing a Welsh-medium education for cultural, educational and employment reasons (Hodges, 2011). The percentage of Welsh speakers is unsurprisingly reflected in Wales’ education system, which has seen a rise from 50,000 Welsh-medium school pupils in 2008/9 to over 75,000 pupils in 2017/18.

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Language Matters

by Wendy Ayres-Bennett

With the resumption of Parliament on Wednesday 25 September, the importance of how we use language came sharply into focus. In the highly charged atmosphere of the House of Commons, one MP warned against the dangers of using ‘offensive, dangerous or inflammatory language’. Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Brendan Cox, husband of the murdered MP Jo Cox, put succinctly the reason why this important: ‘because it has real world consequences’. How we use languages – and which languages we choose to learn and to speak – identifies who we are, how we view the world, and how we relate to others. Language matters.

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