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Coventry Kids Fight Poverty with Language

Originally Published 03 December 2003

Although poverty is an enduring problem the world over, there is no poverty of language in Coventry, as one hundred foreign languages students from secondary schools across the city gather at Tile Hill Wood School and Language College for an all-day languages conference set to debate ‘The lives and rights of young people in Europe and the Third World’, on Friday 5th December.

Organised by the Institute of Education at the University of Warwick, the conference for French, Spanish and German A level students, aged 16-18, will give Coventry linguists the chance to practise their language skills and debate the problems caused by poverty.

Marilyn Hunt, from the University of Warwick, said: “The conference will encourage students to express their viewpoints through French, Spanish or German on pressing international issues relating to the rights of young people and poverty, such as child labour.”

“Language can be turned into a weapon against poverty, as by having an in-depth awareness of the problems faced by people in foreign countries and a deeper knowledge of different cultures, which language learning enhances, we can go some way towards understanding and overcoming the difficulties engendered by poverty.”

“Young people have the right to be protected against violence, discrimination and exploitation and the event gives young people in Coventry a chance to think about how the world is interdependent and their own role as global citizens. Language learning doesn't just help while on holiday, it encourages positive attitudes towards other cultures and helps people understand the problems people in foreign countries face.”

Run by 23 Warwick Modern Foreign Language PGCE teacher trainees, the event will help students develop their full linguistic potential. For the first time this year students have been invited to take part in a writing competition using a photograph ‘A Child Alone’ as a stimulus, and prizes will be awarded for the best entries on the day.

The rights of young citizens and some of the worst abuses to children, including hazardous work, forced labour, street-life for children, and the employment of people as young as 11 as soldiers, are some of the topics set to be discussed and debated. The day will culminate in a performance of poems, interviews, reports and posters prepared by the A level students during the day.

Reporters and/or photographers are welcome to attend the event from 9.15am-10am at Tile Hill Wood School, Nutbrook Avenue, Coventry.

Contacts: Marilyn Hunt, Institute of Education, University of Warwick, Tel: 02476 522 120 Home: 01926 421 849 or Jenny Murray, Communications Office, University of Warwick, Tel: 02476 574 255 Mobile: 07876 217740