Academics, practitioners and activists meeting at the University of Warwick call for language teaching and learning to be seen as essential in today’s global society and urge policymakers to adopt a national and international strategy to break the monolingual mindset which can limit access to social and economic opportunity and wellbeing.
The Migration, Identity, and Translation Network (MITN), supported by the Monash Warwick Alliance, brought together scholars, practitioners and policy makers from different professional and disciplinary backgrounds at the University of Warwick.
Keynote speakers and delegates from Europe, Australia, Canada and the US debated how the politics of language affect social cohesion and access to public resources, such as education, work, health, and the law.
The international Language, Translation and Migration conference concluded with a one-day public summit featuring keynote speakers including Neena Gill MEP, Professor Charles Forsdick (University of Liverpool and Leadership Fellow for the AHRC Translating Cultures theme), Reem Doukmak (Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre), Sarah Frankland (City of Sanctuary ESOL project), Linda Fitchett (AIIC, International Association of Conference Interpreters), Professor Peter Patrick (University of Essex and LADO: Language Analysis for Determination of Origin).
Professor Jo Angouri, University of Warwick, organiser and Academic Co-Lead for the Network, said: “MITN decided to bring together the voices of academics, practitioners and policy makers to discuss and challenge the current narratives on monolingualism and language gatekeeping. The conversation involved participants from local authorities, translators and interpreters, researchers and students and was vibrant and stimulating.”
“Language is inherently political. Research has repeatedly shown that the languages we speak have the power to include us within a community, to facilitate access to employment, education and services, or to exclude us from them. Equally the decision to allocate resources to language education or to translation and interpreting services – or not – is largely a political one.
“We were delighted to welcome Neena Gill MEP to the summit, to hear her say that Britain has underplayed the value of language learning, and that we must recognise that languages not only connect us to economic opportunity but to each other as citizens in a multilingual society.
Professor Rita Wilson, Monash University, co-organiser and Co-Lead for the Network, addressed the risks of blurring the distinction between notions of citizenship, nationality and language and the consequent damaging effects for refugees and asylum seekers.
Professor Angouri added: “The panelists challenged those of us who teach and research language, linguistics and translation to reflect on our own practices. How can we develop inclusive language education? How can we help make language provision and expertise available to those who need it? And how can we break down the barriers between academics, practitioners and policy makers to co-design a positive intervention leading to policy change? MITN is committed to continue working on this agenda.”
Professor Loredana Polezzi, University of Cardiff, co-organiser and founding member of the Network reaffirmed MITN’s original vision to break disciplinary boundaries and foregrounded the relevance of language and translation study for individual and social wellbeing and growth.
Professor Polezzi said “A good place to start is our own academic practice, including our research protocols: we should make sure they include language and cultural awareness and they do not suffer from “language indifference”.’
Delegates agreed that the aims of the Network remain as relevant as ever and the day ended with a commitment for the panelists and floor to come together again in a policy related event and to continue the debate, in person and online with #MITN.
- The Migration, Identity, and Translation Network (MITN) was developed through the Monash Warwick Alliance, an award winning global partnership between Monash University and the University of Warwick.
7 June 2018
Photo (L to R): Professor Charles Burdett (University of Bristol); Professor Jo Angouri (University of Warwick); Neena Gill MEP, and summit delegates.
The Migration, Identity, and Translation Network (MITN) was founded in 2015 as a hub for researchers, teachers, students, and practitioners. The network explores issues relating to migration, identity, and translation from a variety of literary, cultural, linguistic, sociological, and historical perspectives, and seeks to bring that expertise into developing world-leading research and teaching and learning projects.
MITN is supported by the Monash-Warwick Alliance. Formed in 2012, the Monash Warwick Alliance links the University of Warwick with Monash University, combining the two universities’ collective strengths in teaching and research. As the MITN community has evolved and engaged in more collaborative activities, staff and students from other universities and organisations around the world have contributed their expertise to research grants, events, conferences and workshops, making this a dynamic hub for knowledge exchange. MITN would love to hear from anyone interested in joining the community.
Media Relations Manager
University of Warwick