MEITS Blog


“The two cultures” 60 years later

by Thomas H Bak

This week marks the 60th anniversary of one of the most famous and controversial academic lectures in European history: C. P. Snow’s Rede lecture at Cambridge University entitled: “The two cultures”. The lecture is complex and has many interwoven themes, some specifically British, others consciously global, but I think it would be fair to say that at its heart lies C P Snow’s criticism of the lack of respect, interest and knowledge that the “literary” academics have when it comes to science, particularly applied science and technology. The topic has been extensively debated in the context of its intellectual history and subsequent criticism, but my question is a slightly different one: does it still have anything relevant to say to sciences and humanities of our time?

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MEITS does the Festival of Ideas

by Katie Howard

There is little doubt that having some knowledge and appreciation of different languages can provide us with unique access to cultures, communities and countries across the world. It is with this thought in mind that our MEITS Festival of Ideas event, Languages: Your passport to the world, took place on 20 October 2018.

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Does language learning lead to healthier ageing?

by Mariana Vega-Mendoza

I remember very well my own journey into learning a foreign language for the first time. I was back home in Mexico, and I was studying English at school. I was mostly learning vocabulary and grammar, but at that point I didn’t need to use it to communicate. 

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Why the meaning of all sentences is not clear

by Napoleon Katsos

Someone might say ‘Could you lift that box?’. And you would know if this is a request or a factual question, because they are hoovering the floor or they are your physiotherapist assessing your recovery from an injury. The context in which the conversation is taking place often clarifies whatever is not certain.

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‘Don’t speak to me in our language, when you pick me up from school’

by Dina Mehmedbegovic

Today, 18th December is the UN Day of Migrants. On this day in 1990 UN signed the International Migrant Convention protecting the rights of migrants and their families. It took another 13 years for the Convention to reach the threshold needed for its implementation – acceptance by 20 countries. Its main aim is to protect human rights of currently around 250 million people identified as migrants world-wide. Not many are aware of this date and not many are aware that UNESCO rights of children include a right to education in mother tongue/home language.

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Why limited resource models are of limited use, particularly when it comes to languages.

by Thomas H Bak

In the early 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and lifting of travel restrictions, Vienna become a favourite destination for Eastern Europeans keen to buy hitherto unavailable Western goods. My West German friend Wilhelm recalled a conversation with an East German colleague while looking at the frantic markets. “Poor Viennese”, said the East German, “those Eastern Europeans will buy everything and leave them with nothing”. “Lucky Viennese”, answered Wilhelm, “they are doing the business of their lifetime”. Obviously, their comments reflected different economic reality under which they grew up, but they illustrate rather well the general contrast between “limited resource” and “added value” models.

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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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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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