Saturday, March 8, 2008

There are millions of people, whose profession or personal commitment leads them to work hard to teach, learn, care about, use and preserve languages. There are also serious conflicts over languages, even tragedies on small and large scale, and petty Pint sized tempests. There are individuals like Irishman Colm teaching in Estonia with his passionate dedication to preservation of Irish Gaelic. There are professors like David Little at Trinity College Dublin helping language teachers towards truly effective language teaching methods. There are untold millions of teachers in schools around the world who attempt to encourage, enthuse and cajole their students in the enterprise of learning a second language in a formal school setting. Often they succeed and too often we fail. There are untold numbers of policy makers, interest groups, bureaucrats and citizens who want to influence governments to do something about disappointing language study outcomes. There are parents like Prof. Michael Clyne in Australia who gave his daughter the gift of German as a "father tongue" while her mother gave her English as a mother tongue (see Lingua Franca 16 Feb 2008 - Mother tongue, father tongue).

The United Nations has declared 2008 the International Year of Languages. UNESCO is trying to promote the idea that "Languages Matter" with your help. Why? How?

  • You can write a letter to the newspapers putting your particular angle, proposal or success story about languages. A joke, a human interest story, an image might help it get published. Send a copy to every politician you can think of (email if you like), those on side like Australian PM Rudd and those not on side. Set up your own blog, website, wiki, e-group celebrating language champions (Aussie list coming soon and more writing ideas soon.)
  • Organise or join a celebration event, series of talks, performances or debate, competition for best story or art work in your community, local school, library, association, club or organisation. More public event ideas and links soon - with your help!.
  • A group of concerned Australian educators is organising a series of online audio-seminars for April to December 2008. A schedule will appear here soon. The venue will be a University of the Sunshine Coast Adobe Connect Meeting Room and all seminars wil be archived.

Some links can be found at our Sunshine Coast Languages Newsletter. Your feedback is welcome. Salut salam shalom!

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