The University Council of Modern Languages (UCML) has recently announced a new strategy to influence the debate surrounding modern languages, and to highlight the potential languages have to inform UK issues such as immigration, terrorism, and social cohesion in the run up to election day.
Using Twitter as the primary social media platform to encourage this debate, the UCML are calling on corresponding organisations – and individuals – to promote the importance of modern foreign languages, and to connect on the aforementioned issues using the hashtag: #languagepolicyUK.
Every fortnight there will also be a twitter ‘chat’ session that will last for one hour. The first of these #languagepolicyUK hours will take place on Saturday 21 March 10am and will be repeated on Sunday 22 March at 2pm for those who could not take part in the first hour. Both sessions will focus on the topic: ‘Connecting for Languages – Why?’.
Some of the key messages that the UCML would like to highlight during these twitter hours are as follows:
- Language learning in all sectors of education provides real ‘grassroots’ opportunities for experiences that increase appreciation of cultural differences and similarities, enhance collaborative working, and lay the foundations for greater community cohesion.
- Language learning possibilities should be available to all, irrespective of background or resources. No part of our community should be left without a voice and care should be taken to preserve and extend all services that support communication skills acquisition for all.
- The UK, as part of a globalised economy, needs to be ready to play a full part in the opportunities arising from our interconnectivity. To do so requires a flexible, open-minded workforce who are able to understand and optimise their own skill development. Effective communicators at all levels are vital to UK success.
- The UK needs to make better use of the available language skills within its communities. To neglect these leads to isolation and poor integration, which are risk factors that can allow radicalisation and disenfranchisement to take hold. To this end, support is needed for the accreditation of community languages.
If you would like to get involved in promoting these issues further, outside of the allocated ‘twitter chat hours’, it is possible to connect with others using already existing and popular hashtags, such as:
#languagesdebate – for discussions surrounding the importance of language learning, cultural awareness, employability, skills enhancement.
#mfltwitterati – to connect with language teachers in schools, sharing resources.
#langchat – a regular twitter chat for anyone involved in language learning/teaching.
#heaenhancement – for discussions in HE around issues such as internationalisation.
#multilingualism – to discuss language learning benefits.
#languagematters – used broadly to cover topics from punctuation to bullying
Dates for your Diary – Twitter Chat Schedule
|Sat 21st Mar. 10am
Sun 22nd Mar. 2pm
|Connecting for languages – why?|
|Sat 4th Apr. 10am
Sun 5th Apr. 2pm
|Polylingual – can it be done?|
|Sat 18th Apr. 10am
Sun 19th Apr. 2pm
|How can languages contribute to social cohesion|
|Sat 25th Apr. 10am
Sun 26th Apr. 2pm
|What does a global graduate need?|
|Sat 2nd May 10am
Sun 3rd May 2pm
|What does the future of language learning look like?|
But how do I get involved if I don’t ‘do’ Twitter?
If you don’t tweet, you can still contribute to the conversation!
Note a few short (less than 140 characters) messages (with hyperlinks to websites etc) and the date/s of the relevant twitter chat. Email these to your institutional social media person OR if you would like your message to appear under the WiGS Twitter account, email your link to Cyd at email@example.com who will be tweeting for WiGS during the assigned hours.
We need to mobilise the whole community if we are going to make a difference, so please don’t just dismiss the idea if tweeting is not for you. The messages arising from the chat will be aggregated and available for review so make sure that your institution is represented and that the VC knows that you care about the future for languages.
If you would like to get a Twitter account, but don’t know how to get started, contact Cyd (email above) and she will send you an outline of all the basics you need to know to get started on Twitter.
Image: A Middle Low German Primer, written by the Cistercian nuns of Medingen ca. 1480SUB Göttingen, Cod. Ms. Theol. 243, fol. 4r.