On Saturday, 28 October, the MEITS project took part in the Cambridge Festival of Ideas, an annual two-week celebration of the arts, humanities and social sciences organised by the University of Cambridge, in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University.
The MEITS contribution entitled ‘Different languages, different perspectives: Understanding our multilingual world’ included a series of short talks and a range of related interactive games that created a space for the public to reflect on issues associated with languages and multilingualism, both in the world and in relation to their direct surroundings and personal experiences with languages. The activities raised awareness of the various languages we use, the way we use them and what this tells us about who we are.
All six strands were represented at the event, and there were talks by Professor Brad Epps, Professor Wendy Ayres-Bennet, Dr Angela Gayton (on behalf of Professor Mícháel Ó Mainnín), Dr Linda Fisher, Dr Henriëtte Hendriks, and Dr Özge Öztürk (on behalf of Dr Jenny Gibson). Topics addressed included the instrinsic relationship between language and culture, as explored through the case of Catalan; questions of codification and standardisation and why rule-breaking can sometimes be used to create group identity; the relationship between languages and identity as relevant for education and social cohesion; some of the reasons why we should learn languages, including health and well-being; and how best to learn languages and the various factors affecting the learning process.
We were encouraged to see the event so well attended, and we are delighted with the feedback we received from our visitors on the day.