Language Around The World: January 2019
Got five minutes to kill? Here are the language stories you may have missed in the news this month…
UNESCO are protecting indigenous languages
Did you know 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages? According to UNESCO, who launched the initiative to protect and promote these languages, ‘There are some 6,000 to 7,000 languages in the world today. About 97% of the world’s population speaks only 4 % of these languages, while only 3 % of the world speak 96% of all remaining languages.’ If you can get your head around those numbers, it’s easy to see why this is such an important campaign to preserve cultural diversity. We’ll be interested to see the related events that come up in 2019.
Disadvantaged pupils are to be sent on foreign exchange trips
Education Secretary Damian Hinds has said that thousands of disadvantaged pupils in the UK will be sent on foreign exchange trips after Brexit, in a bid to boost the study of languages. The Department for Education plans to make £2.5m available for schools at first, to see how the programme is received and measure what effect it has on the take-up of languages as a subject. According to the Department for Education, the funding will be provided to schools to send pupils to China to help encourage them to study Mandarin.
A Spanish language movie might win Best Picture at the Oscars
Did you watch the Oscar nominations? You might have spotted that Alfonso Cuaron’s Spanish-language film, Roma, made quite a big impression. The move got a total of ten nominations, and could be in line to win the top category of Best Picture. If it does, it’ll be the first time a foreign-language movie has won in this category since the Oscars began. You can watch it on Netflix before the big night on 24th February and decide if it’s worthy for yourself.
One man aims to record all the world’s languages
Daniel Bogre Udell is on a mission. The man, who’s originally from Pennsylvania and now lives in New York, set up a nonprofit called Wikitongues in a bid to record and save the world’s most at-risk languages. As the website explains, ‘Wikitongues is a global network of more than 1,000 volunteers working to ensure every person has the tools to preserve, promote, and pass their languages on to the next generation.’ In particular, the organination notes that less than 1% of all the world’s languages are actively represented online, so they’ve begun recording video oral histories and have already covered more than 400 languages. The Wikitongues YouTube channel has 41,000 subscribers and the most-watched video is a lady speaking English and Gullah, a Creole language.
And last but not least… a very cool Spanish course has launched at Tate Modern
If you want to learn Spanish but don’t fancy doing it in a classroom, this course in London is for you. The Language of Art: Spanish is led every Monday night in February by art historian and educator Alinta Sara, and intermediate-level participants get to hone their language skills while brushing up on their art history. Let’s hope there are similar courses in the pipeline soon – French lessons in a patisserie, perhaps?