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'We are Multilingual' Launch

Date: 17/06/2019

An AHRC backed research project involving over 2,000 schoolchildren in England has launched new teaching resources and details of research into identity and foreign language learning.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge are launching a suite of language learning resources for teachers aimed at encouraging everyone to recognise the languages they have and be able to say: "We are Multilingual". The work is part of the Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies (MEITS) project, funded by the AHRC under its Open World Research Initiative.

The project involves over 2,000 students in seven secondary schools across the East of England and London, and explores the influence of multilingual identity on foreign language learning. The 'WAM' website, which includes freely downloadable teaching resources in major European languages, will be launched on Monday 17th June at an event in the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

WAM is a series of materials, designed alongside teachers and based on research in schools, with the aim to inspire language learners and help change attitudes towards language learning. The resources were trialled over the course of one academic year in four of the schools. The materials include PowerPoint slides, full lesson plans, as well as video and audio files and worksheets, all ready to be used in classrooms nationally right now. 

Through helping learners identify as multilingual, no matter their linguistic repertoire (i.e. all the languages they have contact with or know in some way), the resources aim to:

  • Improve knowledge and understanding about what a language is
  • Enhance motivation and attitudes and improve uptake of language learning
  • Raise awareness of the languages spoken around us
  • Develop general skills such as problem-solving, reflection on learning and empathy.

The research based on the schools involved suggests that students who develop a stronger multilingual identity:

  • Have more positive views about the value of languages
  • Report higher enjoyment of language learning
  • Have greater belief in their own ability to do well in learning a language
  • Are more likely to decide to carry on studying languages.

An adapted pack of resources for whole school activities (e.g. form time, assemblies, PSHCE lessons), aimed at developing a multilingual identity for whole school wellbeing and cohesion will be available in Autumn 2019.

Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact: Ciaran Higgins, Communications Officer at the Arts and Humanities Research Council/OWRI initiative, on 028 9097 5011 or ciaran.higgins@qub.ac.uk.

This research is an Educational Strand under the Multilingualism: Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies (MEITS) project. MEITS is a major interdisciplinary research programme funded by the AHRC Open World Research Initiative. Through six interlocking research strands we investigate how the insights gained from stepping outside of a single language, culture and mode of thought are vital to individuals and societies. For more information visit www.meits.org.

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