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The Value of Languages: Towards a UK Strategy for Languages

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Lucian Stephenson.

In this talk I’ll look at some of the emerging work in Cambridge to promote nationally the value of languages in the face of the constant stream of negative stories about modern languages and language learning. In particular, I’ll underline the importance of greater collaboration, both in terms of research and policy. In the case of research, the multi-disciplinary, multi-institution project, Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies, funded by the AHRC under the Open World Research Initiative, is of a scale and scope hitherto unknown in modern languages research in the UK. As for language policy, I’ll argue that the promotion of languages cannot just be left to the Department for Education, but rather requires a coordinated cross-government approach.


Wendy Ayres-Bennett works on the history of the French language and the history of linguistic thought, particularly in seventeenth-century France. Her major research interests include questions of standardisation and codification, linguistic ideology and policy, variation and change, from the sixteenth century to the present day. She is currently PI on a major research project funded by the AHRC under the Open World Research Initiative: Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies (MEITS).

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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