Languages Festival 2011

Details of how AULC members celebrated the first national Languages Festival, as part of the ‘Speak to the Future’ campaign.

Anglia Ruskin University Language Centre

Anglia Ruskin University Language Centre (ARULC) had a successful event on 8th March to celebrate both Languages in Higher Education and International Women’s Day. We screened Pedro Almodovar’s ‘Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown’, in our university cinema and provided tapas and wine beforehand. The film was introduced by a short talk on the Madrid Modiva of the 1980s. The event attracted students, staff and film devotees and the response to the evening was extremely positive. Film seems to bring people together from all persuasions and linguistic backgrounds, stimulating language learning and celebrating diversity.

University of Exeter

We held an event on March 15th via our Tandem Language Exchange which is funded by the University. We had around 80 people attend a drinks and buffet event to celebrate languages, with a wonderful performance by the World Music Choir who did songs in different languages.

Leeds Metropolitan University and University of Leeds Language Centre

The University of Leeds Language Centre and Languages at Leeds Metropolitan University joined forces to organise a Languages Festival on Mardi Gras, March 8th – a unique collaboration between the two universities.

More than 40 sixth-form pupils from schools around Yorkshire were given the opportunity to mix with speakers of other languages, students and tutors from both universities, and talk about the cultures and customs behind the languages. The event took place in the LeedsMet Rose Bowl building, close to the city centre.

After welcome comments from the heads of the respective languages departments, there was a video introduction specially recorded for us by Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, who wished us Happy Mardi Gras and told us that “the coalition government is fully committed to the teaching of languages in our schools”. We then had a presentation on the business of translation from the major specialist employer in Leeds. There followed A-level conversation classes in French, German and Spanish and short taster sessions in a variety of languages that were new to the students (Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Thai). At the same time there were displays of origami, calligraphy, the work of student societies and a variety of language-related careers information. A DVD of short news clips from satellite TV in several languages was played.

The whole event was supported by language teachers from the schools, language ambassadors and other current students, widening-participation, RiL and academic staff from the universities. As a first joint venture it was deemed a great success and we are keen to make it an annual event.

London School of Economics

The London School of Economics (LSE) Language Centre organised two events from 5 – 6.30pm on Tuesday, 8 March to celebrate languages in higher education and the national campaign for languages:

From 5 – 6pm a round table discussion on ‘Why languages matter’ with an introduction from Howard Davies, Director of LSE. The panel also comprised of:

  • Nick Byrne, Director LSE Language Centre (Chairperson)
  • Professor Janet Hartley, ProDirector Teaching & Learning, LSE
  • Dr. Lid King, the National Director for Languages
  • Professor Debra Kelly, Professor of French and Francophone Literary and Cultural Studies, University of Westminster
  • Michael Lok, International Students’ Officer, LSE

This was followed at 6 – 6.30pm by Tom Stoppard’s Language Colloquium.

University of Newcastle

At Newcastle, Tom Snell and Claire Johnson put together 2 displays of material in the Foyer outside the Learning Resource Centre – mostly in poster form displaying how International Women’s day (also 8th March) is celebrated/interpreted in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. Music from various countries and cultures was played in the background. Leaflets and flyers were available concerning the Speak to the Future campaign, Routes into Languages and language learning opportunities on campus.

In an effort to attract the attention of visitors to the Courtyard Café on the other side of our building, the second display was placed in the foyer where staff meet to eat and drink. The area also serves as a lobby to the research centre and conference area.

Tom set up a large screen and during the afternoon projected a couple of international films that reflected Women’s issues eg Almodovar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Students from the Modern Languages Society agreed to be in attendance in that location to promote interest and answer any queries. Literature concerning the importance of languages was available and members of the Modern Language society were on hand to talk about the importance of languages.

University of Plymouth

Here in Plymouth on Sunday 20 March, we held an “All Our Languages” event at the University in association with Plymouth Multilingual Families (a local association for parents of bilingual children) to celebrate the many languages spoken in Plymouth, showcasing organisations/groups which support and promote language learning and cultural diversity, both within the University and from the local community.

The event was very well received and proved a lively and vibrant afternoon.

University of Reading

As part of the nationwide Higher Education Languages Day, the Self Access Centre for Language Learning (SACLL) hosted an all day event to celebrate languages at the University.

Students dressed up for the German Karneval entertainment at Languages Day

Students dressed up for the German Karneval entertainment at Languages Day

Around 90 students from the Institution-Wide Language Programme, Modern Languages, the pre-sessional course, and Erasmus took part in a variety of events around the theme of ‘happiness’. Activities ranged from a morning of English tea and cakes and German Karneval entertainment, to a lunchtime Italian food and geography quiz with Chinese music and singing.

Joan McCormack, Director of the Self Access Centre and Presessional Course Director, said: “The event was very interesting and diverse, and really demonstrated the cultural richness of our student body. Our aim for next year is to expand this event to a weeklong celebration, to help promote the different aspects of languages at the University to all staff and students.”

University of Sussex

Down at Sussex, this day coincided with what was “Green Week” and “Sounding the Site” week so we had a week long exhibit rolled into one, hence a lot of tree images in our visuals! “Sounding the Site” invited local artists to display their own artwork using the university buildings. The theme was “Root and Branch”. The 8 March day was a coincidental bonus.

From 7-11 March we ran our own show called “Spoken here”, in the Language Centre, where film footage of trees was projected onto the ceiling to the accompaniment of voices talking about nature and woodland. These were all in as many foreign languages as we could muster, and at the moment we have had 35 contributions in 14 different languages. Our corridor was be turned into a walk-through cinema of woodland visuals and voices. The video was projected onto our ceiling in our entrance to the Language Centre so students walked through it, but you can listen to it whilst working on your computer. The video is just a selection as the real thing was 54 minutes long. It’s very relaxing!

A selection of the sound pieces: