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  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    The economic value to the UK of speaking other languages
    (Languages, Society and Policy, 2022-07-04) Ayres-Bennett, Wendy; Hafner, Marco; Tusun, Alimujiang
    English – though important as a lingua franca in business worldwide – is not the sole driver behind existing trade flows across different business sectors. Our study demonstrated how sharing spoken languages can reduce trade barriers. We estimated, for instance, that if the populations in the world who speak Arabic, French, Mandarin, and Spanish could communicate with the UK population without difficulty, then UK exports would increase by £19bn a year. We considered how these potential financial benefits might be realised through the establishment in UK schools of an intensive language programme for Arabic, French, Mandarin or Spanish, akin to the government’s Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP). We found that a 10% increase in the UK Key Stage 3/4 pupil population undertaking such an intensive programme in Arabic, enabling them to use this language later in a business setting, could improve the UK's GDP cumulatively over 30 years by between £11.8bn and £12.6bn. This corresponds to about 0.5% of the UK's 2019 GDP. We estimated economic benefits of comparable magnitude for Mandarin (£11.5bn-£12.4bn), French (£9.2bn-£9.9bn) and Spanish (£9.1bn-£9.8bn). If more pupils were engaged in such a programme, the cumulative benefits would be higher. Comparing these benefits to their potential costs, we found that £1 spent today could return £2 by 2050. Based on our findings, we offer the following policy recommendations: 1. In formulating policies to promote ‘Global Britain’, more attention should be given to the importance of language skills in the globally integrated business community, especially with the growing geopolitical and economic importance of countries like China, where English is not the official or main first language. As a country, the UK cannot be complacent that English is enough. 2. Programmes such as the MEP should be developed and expanded to other strategically important languages so as to combat concerns about the quantity and quality of languages education in the UK and the decline in entries for languages at GCSE and A level. 3. The economic case for languages in terms of the cost-benefit analysis provided should be used to try to secure more funds for languages education and to promote, both in government and in society more widely, the value of languages for the UK’s prosperity.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    The hidden face of the UK’s public language policy
    Humphries, Emma; Ayres-Bennett, Wendy
    Our analysis challenges three common misconceptions: 1. The United Kingdom (UK) has little to no language policy; 2. UK language policy concerns ‘modern languages’ only; and 3. UK language policy is primarily, if not exclusively, found in the Education domain. Our analysis of UK legislation shows that much of the language policy is actually ‘hidden’ in legislation which is primarily about another issue and is therefore not easily visible to either the public or policymakers. We found 1,501 examples of primary and secondary language legislation, most of it ‘hidden’. Legislation concerning the UK’s indigenous languages is more numerous than modern language policy, which is perhaps surprising given that the UK is often seen as monolingual. We found language policy in 21 domains, including Public health and safety, Law and crime, and Media, much more than just Education. With over 90% of language legislation hidden–some of which marks important landmarks in the status of languages–legal coverage for languages is patchy and the importance of languages risks being overlooked. This is a barrier to a coherent, joined up language(s) strategy. Most language legislation is being drafted by policymakers and civil servants whose expertise lies in other domains. Those drafting legislation might benefit from training and support which encourages a systematic consideration of whether their portfolio has a language dimension, in the same way that gender and ethnicity are now considered. Further work is needed to determine the extent to which ‘hidden’ language policies are implemented. There is doubt about this first, because of a potential lack of awareness of the policies, and second, due to the way legislation is formulated. The use of hedging clauses, permissive auxiliaries such as ‘may’ and vague phrasing may mean that the legislation is not consistently applied. With the diversity of language policies in the different jurisdictions of the UK, more cross-jurisdictional comparison and collaboration might be beneficial to highlight best practice where it is found.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Linguistic variation in language learning classrooms: considering the role of regional variation and ‘non-standard’ varieties
    (MEITS, 2020-12-01) Stollhans, Sascha
    • Attitudes to language norms and variation in language teaching vary widely. • Concerns among professionals include anxiety that introducing learners to ‘non-standard’ varieties might lead to ambiguity and confusion, and a risk that students might be penalised for non-standard language in assessments. • On the other hand, linguistic variation is a rich area of study that can appeal to language learners and have a positive impact on motivation. • In German, as with many other languages, vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, communicative conventions etc. can vary depending on factors such as region, social context, degree of formality, medium and relationship between the speakers. • Learners are likely to come across different varieties, whether online, mixing with L1 speakers, or in the country. They will benefit from some awareness of and sensitivity to these varieties. • Textbooks for German tend to focus on the ‘standard’ variety of Germany and only introduce Austrian and Swiss vocabulary to an extent. • A particularly striking example of how attitudes towards variation in language teaching can be shaped is the Chinese Putonghua Proficiency Test. This mandatory test for Chinese language teachers focuses on pronunciation, which is largely based on the Beijing variety. • The Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR) offers some guidance for the inclusion of variation in language teaching. • Treating variation as an insightful and interesting area of study can have a motivational effect on learners. The paper makes concrete recommendations for policy-makers, publishers, authors of learning materials, examination boards and teacher training providers.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Translation as social policy: quality management in public service interpreting and translation
    (MEITS, 2020-12-01) Moreno-Rivero, Javier
    Translation is an essential tool in diverse societies. As language conflicts grow within certain sectors of the population, translation and interpreting contribute to bridging the communication gap within multilingual nations. • Governmental social policies in the UK and Spain recognise the right to translation and interpreting in public settings, yet their implementation needs to be reinforced. • The provision of Public Service Interpreting and Translation (PSIT) has faced many challenges, and professionalisation is encouraged. The privatisation and outsourcing of court interpreting have proven to be detrimental to the profession. • In this paper, we call for close collaborations between governmental agencies and policymakers with translation organizations to ensure that the quality of PSIT is guaranteed.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Why embed multilingualism into university practices?
    (MEITS, 2020-12-01) Migge, Bettina
    This paper draws on my experiences with language in English and non-English-speaking universities, minority language education research (Migge et al. 2010) and on a survey-based research project on linguistic diversity at a major Irish university (Lucek & Migge ms). • Universities worldwide are under pressure to internationalise but there is a lack of clarity about what it means. • Internationalisation is interpreted to mean exposure to diversity.• Universities generally try to achieve internationalisation by encouraging students to spend one or more semesters at a foreign institution and by hiring foreign staff. • In terms of language, internationalisation is generally limited to discussions about access to English and the role of English. • Local academic staff and students are traditionally not seen as playing an integral role in internationalisation when at home. • Recommendation: a socially sustainable approach to internationalisation requires a bottom up approach: it must involve raising awareness about local and global diversity & its multifaceted origins through the core curriculum. • Recommendation: language is a central ‘tool’ for raising awareness about diversity and experiencing diversity.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Counting languages: how to do it and what to avoid. A German perspective
    (MEITS, 2020-12-01) Adler, Astrid
    The annual microcensus provides Germany’s most important official statistics. Unlike a census it does not cover the whole population, but a representative 1%-sample of it. • In 2017, the German microcensus asked a question on the language of the population, i.e. ‘Which language is mainly spoken in your household?’ • Unfortunately, the question, its design and its position within the whole microcensus’ questionnaire feature several shortcomings. The main shortcoming is that multilingual repertoires cannot be captured by it. • Recommendations for the improvement of the microcensus’ language question: first and foremost the question (i.e. its wording, design, and answer options) should make it possible to count multilingual repertoires.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Addressing linguistic inequality in legal settings
    (MEITS, 2020-12-01) Kibbee, Douglas A.
    Individuals have different linguistic competence in using the ‘standard’/official language(s) set by the state, and the differences can lead to inequality in the justice system. • Translators and interpreters in legal settings can be used as an immediate approach to compensate disadvantaged individuals. • The right to an interpreter and/or translator for those who do not speak, or (far less often) who speak non-standard varieties of the language of the court, is protected in many countries and mainly applies to criminal cases, leaving gaps in other legal cases where this right is not guaranteed. • In non-criminal trials, the responsibility to request interpreters and/or translators often falls either on those in need of the service, who sometimes are unaware of their needs or cannot afford the service, or on the judges who have not received sufficient training and support in recognizing and fulfilling these needs. • Practices addressing the issue include court transcription and interpreting, but even the use of these techniques does not eliminate errors which are extremely difficult to correct afterwards, leaving court participants’ rights unprotected. • More rigorous policies on legal interpretation and translation services are needed and a list of suggestions are provided in this paper.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Recognising and Protecting the Communication Rights of Autistic Children
    (MEITS, 2020-11-01) Gréaux, Mélanie; Katsos, Napoleon; Gibson, Jenny; Katsos, Napoleon [0000-0002-4722-674X]
    •Autistic children are at risk of having their communication rights violated. This risk is heightened for autistic children with communication disability, which can emerge from factors inherent autism, co-occurring language disorders and societal barriers. This risk is also unacceptably high for autistic children from minority groups. • The autistic community, researchers, clinicians and policymakers must work together to promote the communication rights of all autistic children. In particular, Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) can contribute valuable expertise to the development and implementation of impactful policies in this field. • We propose three areas of policy action to better protect the communication rights of autistic children: o Area 1: Promoting more Inclusive Communication practices in our society; o Area 2: Enabling the co-creation of communication support services with autistic children and other relevant stakeholders; o Area 3: Increasing the visibility, access and inclusivity of specialist services.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Grammatical errors: what can we do about them?
    (MEITS, 2020-11-01) Alexopoulou, Theodora
    Every second language (L2) speaker will make grammatical errors, irrespective of age, education, motivation or learning context. Errors often persist even after focused teaching of the relevant forms and rules and abundant exposure to input through immersion. Errors may persist even in the language of young learners immersed in mainstream education. It is important to recognise that grammatical errors do not, in any way, reflect the cognitive abilities or intelligence of these young learners. Grammatical errors arise because learners have difficulty processing L2 forms which do not have easily identifiable meaning. Learning activities helping learners to process the relevant forms correctly can improve their accuracy. Such grammar processing activities need to take into account the degree of similarity between the target L2 forms and the first language(s) of the learners. Young immigrant children acquiring the language of their host country through immersion in mainstream education require support in their L2. Online grammar activities incorporated in a blended learning environment can provide a personalised approach, without disrupting children’s attendance in the mainstream classroom.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Why and how to integrate non-standard linguistic varieties into education: Cypriot Greek in Cyprus and the UK
    (2020-06) Ioannidou, Elena; Karatsareas, Petros; Lytra, Vally; Tsiplakou, Stavroula
    Greek Cypriot education remains largely oriented towards promoting standard language ideologies and only accepts Standard Greek as the language of teaching and learning. • Cypriot Greek, the pupils’ home variety, is still seen as an obstacle to academic achievement by teachers and educational authorities. • Cypriot Greek needs to be integrated into policies and practices of teaching and learning both in Cyprus and in the UK’s Greek Cypriot community. • This will: o hone pupils’ awareness of different varieties; o foster the development of their critical literacy; o facilitate the acquisition of Standard Greek; o counter negative perceptions, stereotypes and feelings of inferiority associated with the use of Cypriot Greek; and, o aid in the maintenance and intergenerational transmission of Cypriot Greek as a heritage and community language in the UK. • Teachers and learning activities should promote and cultivate: o awareness and respect of the different varieties spoken in class, Cypriot Greek and Standard Greek; and, o awareness of vocabulary and grammar in the contexts of use of the two varieties and their social meanings. • This approach will ultimately change the way we view language and literacy learning.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Assessing Young Children from Diverse Backgrounds: Novel Ways to Measure Language Abilities and Meet the Requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage
    (2020-06) Polišenská, Kamila; Chiat, Shula; Fenton, James; Roy, Penny
    This paper examines the communication, language and literacy assessment required by the 2017 Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the challenges from this mandate in particular: ‘If a child does not have a strong grasp of English language, practitioners must explore the child’s skills in the home language with parents and/or carers, to establish whether there is cause for concern about language delay’ (p. 9). • If there is cause for concern, practitioners face three challenges: o Challenge 1: Providing consistent and objective assessment when relying on parental reports; o Challenge 2: Assessing children’s skills in the 300-plus home languages of the one million children in English primary schools who do not have English as their first language (DfE, 2019); o Challenge 3: Determining whether low performance on English assessments is due to (a) limited English language exposure, likely to be resolved through additional exposure in primary school and not requiring specialist intervention, or (b) an underlying language disorder that cannot be resolved through additional exposure alone. • To address these challenges, we argue for a policy that utilises a small range of evidence-based and easily-administered tests that evaluate language-learning skills, focusing on skills needed to learn word forms (the sounds that make up a word) and word meanings.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Integrating linguistic analysis into science pedagogy
    (MEITS, 2020-01-01) Zacharias, Sally
  • ItemOpen Access
    Scotland’s language communities and the 1+2 Language Strategy
    (MEITS, 2019-12-01) Hancock, Andy; Hancock, Jonathan
    • The Scottish Government's ambitious 1+2 Language Strategy, launched in 2012, has refocused attention on language policy in education and the provision for language learning in Scotland. • The Language Strategy contains a commitment for schools to further develop links involving “language communities” and to teach “the community languages of pupils in schools”. • However, a review of the implementation of the policy reveals the languages on offer in mainstream schools remain dominated by a narrow range of European languages such as French and German. • The learning of community languages of an increasingly diverse population remains the preserve of complementary schools organised by language community members and operating in the evenings and the weekend. • Numerous studies in the UK and internationally have acknowledged the pivotal educational, social and cultural role of complementary schools. However, learners’ linguistic achievements gained at complementary schools often remain hidden from mainstream schools. • A national survey of complementary school providers highlights a desire to improve their language learning provision and to be involved more in 1+2 developments at a local authority level. • Developing meaningful partnerships between the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), local authorities, complementary schools and mainstream schools needs to be an integral part of the 1+2 Language Strategy. • Extending and enhancing language learning provision in and outside of mainstream schools will add much weight to the Scottish Government’s policy aspiration to develop a new generation of plurilingual citizens.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Linguistic diversity in the classroom: the wise teacher’s dilemma
    (MEITS, 2018-09-01) Jaspers, Jürgen
    Urban schools in Belgium have become increasingly multilingual. This invites pedagogical challenges as pupils struggle with the instruction language, but it leads to ideological anxieties in Dutch-medium schools especially. Recent studies show that Flemish teachers have negative attitudes towards the use of other languages than Dutch. These studies call for anti-bias training and for a teacher education that lives up to the current multilingual reality. There are good reasons however for expecting that teachers will waver ambivalently between linguistic uniformity and diversity, because they associate both ideas with important, albeit competing, educational purposes. Developing positive attitudes towards multilingualism is possible. But the effects of such an endeavor may be limited, and the expectations about what teachers are capable of unrealistic, if it is ignored that teachers will also attend to linguistic uniformity, at least in the present circumstances. Policy debate needs to take into account that teachers have to strike a balance between competing pedagogical purposes and societal concerns. Advocates of multilingualism at school may be more effective if they associate linguistic diversity not just with attitudes of tolerance and respect, but also with knowledge, qualification, and assessment.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Embedding languages policy in primary schools in England: summary of the RiPL White Paper proposing solutions
    (MEITS, 2019-07-01) Myles, Florence; Tellier, Angela; Holmes, Bernadette
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Modern languages and mentoring: Lessons from digital learning in Wales
    (MEITS) Gorrara, Claire; Jenkins, Lucy; Mosley, Neil
    This article considers the role that mentoring, and in particular online mentoring, can play in tackling the decline in modern language learning at GCSE level in Wales. • It evaluates Digi-Languages, a blended learning experience that pairs university student linguists with secondary school learners of languages to improve MFL uptake at GCSE. • This article examines the conception, design and early outcomes of DigiLanguages. • The article evaluates the experiential learning of the mentees (Year 9 learners) and explores the ethos underpinning resource development and the project’s key messaging around culture and languages. • The article provides recommendations for the expansion of Digi-Languages to support broader language policy objectives in Wales, including the Welsh Government’s policy of one million Welsh speakers by 2050. • The article concludes with suggestions for the extension of Digi-Languages to other regions of the UK and overseas and its potential as a model for stimulating inter-cultural conversations on the lifelong value of languages.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Is it possible to differentiate multilingual children and children with Developmental Language Disorder?
    (MEITS, 2019-03-01) Garraffa, Maria; Vender, Maria; Sorace, Antonella; Guasti, Maria Teresa
    The language profiles of monolingual children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and typically developing multilingual children can overlap, presenting similar paths and delays in learning specific aspects of language in comparison with typically developing monolingual children of the same age. • In an increasingly multilingual society, it is essential to develop guidelines and tools for differentiating the two populations, avoiding both under- and overdiagnosis of language disorders in multilingual children. • Many multilingual children have a narrower vocabulary compared with monolinguals of the same age. Therefore, grammatical features are considered more reliable clinical markers of a possible disorder. • Clinical markers for children with DLD are language-specific. For example, in English-speaking children with DLD, verb endings may be omitted, as in “*Mary cook it”. For Italian or French children with DLD, a reliable marker is the realisation of certain pronouns, as in Mary lo cucina, “Mary it cooks”, with omissions or substitution of the pronoun lo depending on age. • Despite similarities between multilingual children and children with DLD, it is possible to distinguish between the two groups after multilingual children have at least two years of exposure to their second language (L2). • Multilingual children can learn their L2 fully, while this is generally not the case for monolingual children with DLD; however, children’s success in learning their L2 depends on length of exposure to the language, the type of multilanguage experience, and the structural relatedness of the two languages.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
    Language education in the era of Brexit: three challenges for the schools’ sector
    (MEITS, 2018-07-01) Tinsley, Teresa
    This paper focuses on language learning at school level and identifies three policy challenges emerging from the 2016/17 Language Trends survey of primary and secondary schools in England, namely: • Inequalities in access to, and participation in, language learning. The research shows that these are geographic, socio-economic and gender-related. • The need to reinvigorate language learning in primary schools and forge more coherent pathways between primary and secondary schools if the aspirations of the national curriculum and for the English Baccalaureate are to be fulfilled. • The challenges posed by Brexit itself in terms of supply and retention of language teachers, motivation to study languages, and opportunities for pupils and teachers to learn through engagement with native speakers and their cultures.
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access
  • ItemPublished versionOpen Access