MEITS Blog


Where is that native speaker?

by Henriette Hendriks

Have you ever learnt a modern foreign language? Many of us have attempted it at least once in our lives. Perhaps it was in school, or perhaps you fell in love. However, an encounter with a new language arises, starting to learn always seems easy. But how do you know when you have finished, or reached the target? At what point can you say you have acquired the language? Is it, perhaps, when you know all the rules in the grammar book? Or when you stop speaking with a foreign accent? The questions surrounding how much language is sufficient to have acquired it are ones that have been testing learner, teacher and researcher alike.

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Multilingual role models: engaging the disengaged

by Katie Howard

“But, Miss, what’s the point?” was a perennial question propelled in my direction – often with uncompromising vigour– during my time as an MFL teacher. A vast array of arguments, many of which have been cogently rehearsed in previous blog posts, can be drawn upon to answer my students’ question; from the vocational to the cultural, the linguistic to the cognitive. But perhaps we should be seeking not only to answer the question “why bother with languages?”, but to understand what compels students to ask it in the first place.

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‘A change is as good as a rest’: MEITS strand 3 goes to Canada

by Janice Carruthers

Although the strand I lead in MEITS (Strand 3) does not work directly on Canada, a recent visit allowed me to view our strand’s core research questions from a different angle and reminded me why it matters that we value multilingualism.

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Education is much more than just going to school and bilingualism is an important part of it

by Thomas H Bak

There is hardly an idea as deeply ingrained and universally shared across academia as the belief in the value of education. Education is a good thing, and the more we can get of it the better. Conversely, lack of education is one of the worst evils. After all, education is our profession, our mission and, to a large extent, our raison d’être.

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A needle in a haystack? Seeking languages in government

by Wendy Ayres-Bennett

In October 2015 we organised the first National Languages Workshop in Cambridge, with help from the Cambridge Strategic Research Initiative in Public Policy and the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP). It comprised an open session in the morning with a series of presentations from representatives of different government departments, and a closed session under Chatham House rules in the afternoon. As a result, we produced a policy document, the Value of Languages.

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Multilingualism: More than words

by Jenny Gibson

Can you be multilingual if you don’t talk at all? The question may sound paradoxical but it is one that I’ve been asked many times in my work as Speech and Language Therapist. Over the years, I’ve encountered numerous people who do not talk or who can understand and use very few words. This includes people who have had a stroke or traumatic brain injury affecting speech and language systems in the brain, as well as those with intellectual disabilities that have affected the language development process from the earliest days of life. Some of these individuals come from backgrounds where multilingualism is the norm and their families are often concerned about choosing the language that can best support communication and the development of new skills.

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Mobilising and Releasing the Potential of Language Heritage for an Open World Post-Brexit

by Yongcan Liu

Two months ago, my colleague and I drove down to a local school to conduct a pilot study of our research on the influence of identity on foreign language learning for the Education Strand of the MEITS project.

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Bi- and Multilingualism: Defining the differences

by Harper Staples

What makes somebody multilingual? Although a very simple question, and one that is often asked as part of Strand 4’s work, it is, in fact, deceptively complicated.

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