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The Coventry City of Languages community project wins Parliament UK award

The University of Warwick are proud collaborators of the Coventry City Languages project that aims to celebrate and promote all the languages spoken in the city of Coventry. The local community project has been named 'Parliament UK Community Campaign of the Year' in the Your UK Parliament Awards 2022.

Representatives from the team were presented with their trophy at the Palace of Westminster, where they met with Coventry’s MPs Taiwo Owatemi and Zarah Sultana, who have supported the partnership.

Coventry City of Languages was founded in January 2021 by teachers Anna Grainger and Victoria Seaton to celebrate the many languages spoken in schools and communities across the city and inspire everyone to develop their language skills. The project has been widely supported by Coventry's local schools, local council, businesses, The University of Warwick, Coventry University and local MPs.

Professor Kate Astbury, Head of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Warwick, said:

“The University of Warwick and Coventry University are delighted to be able to support the Coventry City of Languages initiative which is playing a vital role in answering calls for a multilingual, global Britain and we are thrilled that this award recognises the success we are already seeing.”

Co-Founder of Coventry City of Languages and local primary school teacher Anna Grainger, said:

“We hope that this award will enable us to give a louder voice to all those people who speak other languages in our city, and draw attention to the linguistic diversity and the benefits this brings. Language education in the UK is at crisis point. A 2019 report by The National Academy estimates that the UK economy loses out on £48 billion a year due to the lack of language skills in the workplace, and this is only going to get worse.”

Coventry City of Languages campaigns for greater visibility of languages in the city and aims to encourage school pupils to develop a love of language learning, and work more effectively with Ethnic Minority Achievement Service to celebrate the advantages of multilingualism. The project has the support of the Lord Mayor, City Cabinet member for education, Counsellor Kindi Sandhu, Baroness Estelle Morris (a former teacher in Coventry as well as Education Minister) and the British Council.

The partnership has already expanded the number of teachers supported through a Modern Foreign Languages hub and helped the Spanish Embassy to deliver high quality training to primary school teachers. It works with local businesses to find people to talk to school pupils about the advantages of languages in the workplace and with university students who talk to pupils about their GCSE options and create virtual school trips abroad to level up language learning at a time when school trips abroad have been halted because of the pandemic.

Professional translator and local business owner Hazel Underwood said:

“Celebrating all the languages spoken in Coventry can help to improve its economy, wellbeing and civic harmony.”

Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South, said:

“I am absolutely thrilled Coventry City of Languages has won this award, recognising their fantastic work celebrating languages in our city and opening up opportunities for young people. I have been proud to support them from the beginning and look forward to helping the group go from strength-to-strength!”

Taiwo Owatemi, MP for Coventry North West, said:

"I am thrilled to see the team that have made Coventry City of Languages a reality, receive this award. Strong language skills not only help to improve economies, but community wellbeing and educational equality as well. We're already seeing the benefits of their hard work, and I know that the future is bright for language learning in Coventry."

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