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Primary Education News
News The Guardian public language champion award
As part of our campaign to debate and promote the importance of languages, we're launching a special award to recognise a public figure that has done their bit for the multi-lingual cause
A week ago the Guardian and the British Academy launched the case for language learning campaign – an initiative to promote the benefits of learning languages and push languages higher up the agenda with government, the public and industry.
The aim is provoke a debate that explores how important languages are to British society and what needs to be done to develop the nation's skills, at a time when language study in the UK, particularly at a higher level, is on the decline.
So far, there's been no shortage of debate. The launch post for the campaign drew plenty of comments, many outlining the challenges of encouraging a greater uptake of languages, as well as taking its study further.
In the thread, Pete West writes: "People need a reason to study languages and for native English speaking children it's often the case that a compelling reason simply does not exist. A Greek or Chinese or Mexican child will know that learning English can lead to opportunities later in life; but an English child? They might (like me) learn French at school and then never use it again. So where is the motivation?"
Through the campaign we hope to address big questions such as this, share some compelling reasons to learn languages and the best ways to do so.
As part of this work, we're also running the Guardian Public Language Champion Award to find and recognise a public figure that champions languages and has made an impact in some way to encourage the uptake of languages by schools, communities or businesses. This could be through involvement in charitable campaigns, changing or lobbying of policy, educating and sharing of expertise, broadcasting or writing.
Judges are working on a shortlist as we speak and we'll be opening the award up to a public vote later this month. The winner will be announced during our languages festival in November.
We've already been talking to some unofficial language champions, such as Eddie Izzard, Alastair Campbell and Ellen MacArthur. You can catch up on their languages stories on the case for languages campaign page.
If you have an interesting languages story to tell or have an idea for how we can explore their impact, we'd love to hear from you, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.