Latest News

A selection of language-related news. Does not claim to be comprehensive or represent the views of SCILT.


Kelly Clarkson drops new single, ‘I Dare You,’ with duets in five languages

16 April 2020 (Variety)

Kelly Clarkson dropped her new single “I Dare You” – along with duets of the song performed with five different singers in their native languages. The bundle sees Clarkson joined by Zaz (“Appelle Ton Amour” – French Version), Faouzia (“كنتحداك” – Arabic Version), Blas Cantó (“Te Reto A Amar” – Spanish Version), Glasperlenspiel (“Trau Dich” – German Version) and Maya Buskila (“בוא נראה” – Hebrew Version).

Clarkson will also share a world premiere performance music video for “I Dare You” on an episode of “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” singing virtually with her global duet partners.

[...] “This is my favorite/hardest project that I’ve ever worked on” explained Clarkson. “It has always been a dream of mine, as I grew up singing in different languages, to find that perfect song, with the perfect message, to connect us all globally and then record that song with several other artists around the world in their native languages."


Martina Navratilova: ‘Learning multiple languages helped me on the court and in life’

3 February 2020 (The Independent)

Frustrated in her desire to learn the piano and unable to find anyone in her small Czech village to teach her English, Martina Navratilova sought out French and German lessons instead. Here, in an extract from a new book, the tennis superstar says the sport that made her name is a language too.

Two “passports” expanded my horizons, transformed my life and opened up the world: the game of tennis and languages. To learn a different language is to encounter a different logic, a different cadence, a different sequence of words. It prepares you to think differently and to adapt, and tennis is all about adapting, every point, every shot. You have to figure things out fast and react to instantly changing circumstances.

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The man teaching 300 million people a new language

27 January 2020 (BBC)

If anyone ever doubts the positive impact of immigration tell them about Luis von Ahn.

A 41-year-old from the Central American nation of Guatemala, he went to the US in 1996, aged 18, to do a maths degree at Duke University in North Carolina. After that he studied computer science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

[...] Fast forward to today, and Luis is the co-founder and boss of Pittsburgh-based Duolingo, the world's most popular language-learning app, which has more than 300 million users around the globe.

[...] The inspiration behind Duolingo was to create a language learning app that was free for people to use - be it in Guatemala, or around the world - so that they could gain the economic advantages that often come with being at least partially bilingual.


Celtic ace Ewan Henderson hails brother Liam as an inspiration after Serie A venture

20 October 2019 (The Scottish Sun)

Liam Henderson's Italian is coming on nicely — but brother Ewan reckons his success speaks for itself.

Celtic kid Ewan, 19, is following in Liam’s footsteps by coming through the ranks at Parkhead. Liam, 23, is playing for Hellas Verona in Serie A after helping them to promotion last season.

[...]“He’s taking Italian lessons and his language skills have improved a lot since he first went over.

“There aren’t many boys from Scotland who have gone over and done what he’s done. It shows it’s possible for Scottish players to try things like that."


How K-pop and K-drama made learning Korean cool

1 September 2019 (Forbes)

When Mina Chae first began making videos in 2008, she found less than five Korean language lessons on YouTube. Feeling a need to ”contribute some pixels to the online community,” she created YouTube lessons with the equipment she had on hand: a laptop, some green screen fabric, and an impressive talent for caricature. Playing multiple members of a fun fictional family, she shared common Korean words and their context in a series of KWOW episodes.

[...] “Many k-pop fans want to learn Korean to sing their favorite songs, which can be especially awesome for audience participation at live concerts,” said Chae. “K-drama lovers can watch their episodes in the native Korean language without reading subtitles, which are not always translated accurately. How can you? There are cultural words and feelings that just cannot be perfectly translated into another language. So learning the language is a way to better understand the culture and people."


How Friends taught the world to speak English – from Jürgen Klopp to Korean pop megastars

9 August 2019 (The Guardian)

They were there for him. Jürgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool, has credited Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Joey and Chandler with teaching him English. Watching the long-running sitcom Friends helped him bridge the gaps in his language comprehension, he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast on Wednesday. “The easiest to follow for Germans in English is Friends. It’s easy conversation. You can understand pretty much each word, pretty early,” he said.

Friends is, in fact, a time-honoured English teacher. Both Luis Severino of the New York Yankees baseball team, who is from the Dominican Republic, and the Venezuelan Wilmer Flores, formerly of the rival Mets, have spoken about learning colloquial language from the show. (Flores, who has said he watches Friends almost daily, even changed his walk-up music to the theme tune by the Rembrandts.)


Harry greets NZ audience in six Pacific languages

30 October 2018 (BBC)

Prince Harry has delighted a gathering of Auckland's local Pasifika community, hosted by New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, by greeting them in six languages.

The royal opened his speech by saying greetings in Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Niuean, Cook Islands Maori and Maori.


K-pop drives boom in Korean language lessons

11 July 2018 (BBC)

Korean is rapidly growing in popularity, in a language-learning boom driven by the popularity of the country's pop stars.

A desire to learn the lyrics of K-Pop hits like Gangnam Style has boosted the Korean language's popularity explode in countries like the US, Canada, Thailand and Malaysia.

A report by the Modern Language Association shows that Korean uptake in US universities rose by almost 14% between 2013 and 2016, while overall language enrolment was in decline.

The latest statistics show 14,000 students are learning Korean in the US, compared to only 163 two decades earlier.

The language learning website Duolingo launched a Korean course last year because of rising demand. It quickly attracted more than 200,000 pupils.


Oscars 2018: Ex-Hollyoaks star uses sign language in acceptance speech

5 March 2018 (BBC)

A film starring a six-year-old deaf British girl and made by two former Hollyoaks stars has won an Oscar.

The Silent Child, which tells the story of a girl who struggles to communicate, was named best live action short film.

It stars Maisie Sly, aged six, from Swindon, and Rachel Shenton, who played Mitzeee Minniver in the Channel 4 soap.

Shenton also wrote it and used sign language in her acceptance speech. It was directed by Chris Overton - AKA Hollyoaks cage fighter Liam McAllister.

"I made a promise to our six-year-old lead actress that I would sign this speech," Shenton said while accepting the statuette at Sunday's ceremony in Hollywood.


Murray faces his toughest interview yet!

6 July 2017 (BBC Sport)

Andy Murray faces his toughest interview yet as children get the chance to quiz the British number one.

How will Andy respond to the first question: "How many languages do you speak?"


Chris Pratt Impresses Jennifer Lawrence With His German-Speaking Skills

9 December 2016 (Glamour)

Chris Pratt is truly a renaissance man. In addition to being a highly successful actor and a loving father, this 37-year-old is also a master of the French braid, a magician, and apparently a polyglot as well. That last skill is something Pratt decided to showcase during a press tour for his upcoming film Passengers.


News Exclusive: The Arsenal Double Club

14 November 2016 (Arsenal Football Club)

With a total of seven languages in his armoury, Petr Cech is by far the most lingual member of Arsenal’s squad, now that Mikel Arteta, conversant in nine tongues, has left the club. Earlier this year, Steve Eadon, Languages coordinator for the Arsenal Double Club, interviewed Cech about his experience with languages.

“Before I do these interviews, I have a little time with the players off camera,” explains Steve, who has also interviewed Hector Bellerin and Gabriel on the same subject. “I asked Petr how many of these languages he is actually fluent in. He said that he was fluent in all of them. So we tested him and, needless to say, he was telling the truth!”

Cech voluntarily learned Spanish and Portuguese when he arrived at Chelsea due to the proliferation of Spanish and Portuguese speaking players in the Blues’ defence. Cech revealed earlier this year that he uses three different languages to communicate with the Arsenal defence.


Angelina Jolie's six children speak seven languages, actress reveals

17 June 2016 (Telegraph)

Any parent will know that each of their children is unique. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's brood seem to have taken that to a new level, with six children each learning a different language. In lessons that will surely benefit their future holidays, the Jolie-Pitt children can speak Khmer, Vietnamese, German, Russian, French, Arabic and sign language, the actress revealed. In a programme for Radio 4's Woman's Hour, which she guest-edited, Jolie spoke of how her children had adapted to their lives travelling around the world.


British astronaut Tim Peake is tested on his Russian skills (video)

13 December 2015 (BBC)

British astronaut Tim Peake has spent six years training for his mission to the International Space Station which blasts off on Tuesday 15 December.

He's said that the hardest bit was learning Russian - the language is needed to operate the Soyuz rocket and the Russian parts of the ISS.

We tested Tim's vocabulary and pronunciation with the help of two BBC Russian staff, Famil Ismailov and Anya Dorodeyko.


‘Will Gary Neville's appointment at Valencia trigger a renaissance in Spanish learning in our schools? Here’s hoping...’

7 December 2015 (TES)

The uptake of modern foreign languages in schools has long been influenced by sportspeople launching themselves into foreign leagues, writes on MFL teacher.

Footballers and football managers have probably done more for the dissemination of Spanish than anyone since the conquistadors.

I love it when an Englishman is offered – and accepts – a job abroad. It causes such a flurry of excitement. Justified, yet somehow comically disproportionate, admiration, shot through with just a hint of incredulity. It seems to take us by surprise every time. He'll never stick it out, of course, the bar-flies say down the pub. He'll miss the pies too much.


Jessica Alba reads Scots version of The Gruffalo to her children

6 February 2015 (STV News)

She's one of the world's most famous actresses with massive roles in films such as Sin City, Fantastic Four and Into the Blue.

So fans from across the pond were delighted when American star Jessica Alba was pictured on her Instagram account reading The Gruffalo in Scots to her children.

The book, originally written by Julia Donaldson, has become a contemporary favourite with youngsters.

But the Scottish version, produced by James Robertson and published by Black & White, is for more of a niche audience.

Or at least that's what James thought until he saw the picture of Jessica on Thursday afternoon.


Language and Listening (A point of view)

16 January 2015 (BBC Radio 4)

AL Kennedy reflects on the importance of learning languages and listening to one another. "More words give me more paths to and from the hearts of others, more points of view - I don't think that's a bad thing."


Eddie Izzard named public language champion

28 November 2014 (The Guardian)

The public has chosen stand-up comedian Eddie Izzard as their 2014 public language champion.

The award was announced on Friday at the Guardian and British Academy 2014 Schools Language Awards in central London as part of the annual Language Festival. The Public Language Champion award invites Guardian readers to nominate public figures that promote the value of speaking another language.

Eddie Izzard is a long-time advocate for the importance of language learning. Readers highlight his international tour Force Majeure which sees him delivering sets in Arabic, German, Spanish and French. As part of the tour, and to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, he also performed the show three times in three different languages.


Jane Seymour: ‘Everyone should know another language’

24 October 2014 (Guardian)

Actor Jane Seymour’s mother learned Japanese and Malay while in an Indonesian concentration camp. She shares how this has shaped her attitudes to language learning/


Mark Zuckerberg speaking Mandarin sounds like a '7-year-old with a mouth full of marbles'

23 October 2014 (Independent)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wowed an audience at Beijing’s Tsinghua University by calmly chatting his way through a 30-minute interview in Mandarin, but the internet has been a bit harsher comparing him to “an articulate 7-year-old with a mouth full of marbles.”


Quelle surprise! Celebrities who speak multiple languages

23 October 2014 (CNN)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg already owns a good chunk of the Internet, but on Wednesday he won it as well when he spoke Chinese to an audience at a Beijing university. See the video along with other celebrities speaking other languages on CNN.


Paddy Ashdown: ‘Learning six languages has changed my life’

14 October 2014 (Guardian)

From speaking Malay as a young marine, to offending his Chinese teacher with unfortunate translations, Paddy shares the twists and turns of his language adventures.


Who is this year’s public language champion?

27 August 2014 (The Guardian)

Nominations are now open for the second Guardian Public Language Champion Award. We’re on the hunt for someone in the public eye who flies the flag for languages in the UK. Last year, Arsene Wenger, Arsenal football club manager, was crowned the inaugural champion.


Language news in review: 2013's 10 big stories

23 December 2013 (The Guardian)

From Polish becoming England's second language, to a Guardian investigation revealing the alarming rate of university language department closures, 2013 was a busy year for languages. Here are 10 big language stories from the past year.


Eddie Izzard: We're just lazy at foreign languages

17 December 2013 (Newsbeat)

Eddie Izzard has claimed people who speak English are "just lazy" at learning foreign languages.

Dates for the comedian's current Force Majeure tour will cover 27 countries during which he will perform in German, French, Spanish and Arabic.

"It's a very positive thing to do," said the 51-year-old who will also speak in Russian and Italian during the tour.

"It means something if you're going to learn the whole language."


Footballers give pupils language goals

10 December 2013 (The Guardian)

Football clubs across the country are using sport to cultivate children's interest in learning other languages.

"If I could say anything to Santi Cazorla? I don't know the Spanish words yet, but I'd say: 'You're a wicked footballer.'" Suraiya Farah, a year-five pupil at Primrose Hill primary school in north London, has just finished a taster Spanish session with the Arsenal Double Club and she is eager to put her new skills to use.

Arsenal is one of a number of clubs, including Newcastle United and Hull City, that runs a language Double Club, a cross-curricular course that uses football to teach students a foreign language.

The after-school sessions are made up of two halves: the first takes place in a classroom, where students are taught football-related vocabulary, and the second encourages children to practise their language skills out on the pitch.


Arsène Wenger talks his way to another title

10 December 2013 (The Guardian)

The Arsenal manager talks to Molly Pierce about his dedication to language learning and how football can make learning them more exciting.


Prince William speaks Mandarin as he joins David Beckham in wildlife campaign to Chinese

6 December 2013 (Daily Express)

Prince William joined David Beckham and NBA basketball star Yao Ming in appealing to Chinese parents to think of their children and save endangered wildlife in a video message today.


Larry Lamb on languages: 'My whole career has been based on Miss Smith teaching me French' – video

22 November 2013 (The Guardian)

The Eastenders and Gavin and Stacey star, and now the voice of Eurostar in France, started his career selling encyclopedias in Germany. Larry Lamb talks to the Guardian about the unexpected route he took into acting and how it all began in a primary school French lesson.


Celebrity Linguists

25 September 2013 (TES)

List of celebrity quotes about the value of language learning from CILT, put into powerpoint, plus pictures (Google Images) for corridor display.

You will need a TES userid and password to access the resource.


Gary Lineker: Schools don't take foreign languages seriously enough

26 September 2013 (TES)

He is better known for his views on football, but former England striker and TV personality Gary Lineker has claimed foreign languages are not taken seriously enough on the national curriculum.

The host of Match of the Day was speaking to TES about the importance of learning languages for young people today, adding that it was more relevant to their every day lives than other subjects such as the sciences.

Himself a fluent Spanish speaker after a successful three-year career playing for Barcelona, Mr Lineker believes students should learn a foreign tongue because it will always be useful in later life.


Related Links

Gary Lineker kickstarts language learning in schools (The Guardian, 26 September 2013)

Guardian Public Language Champion Award 2013 - shortlist

19 September 2013 (The Guardian)

Who is Britain's language champion? The Guardian, in partnership with the British Academy, is honouring the nation's leading language proponent in its inaugural language award.

The Public Language Champion Award recognises the commitment and passion shown by a public figure in the importance of language to British society. The award is part of the Guardian's language learning series, a campaign to start a national debate on language learning.

Our shortlist of nominees ranges from comedians and actors to sporting figures and broadcasters who are either great role models of the value of knowing one or more languages than your mother tongues or fierce advocates of the need for putting language learning on the national agenda.

See the shortlist and vote for your favourite by 14 October.


The Guardian public language champion award

3 September 2013 (The Guardian)

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.


Bale speaks Spanish at Real Madrid unveiling

2 September 2013 (ESPN)

New Real Madrid signing Gareth Bale showed how he had spent his summer months by speaking in Spanish during the Bernabeu unveiling to mark his world record £86 million transfer.


Related Links

Gareth Bale must put heart and soul into Real move - Gary Lineker (BBC Sport, 1 September 2013) Lineker, who played for Barca between 1986-1989, feels that learning the language and immersing himself in the culture will be key to Bale's chances of succeeding in La Liga.

Why languages matter to me: Eddie Izzard, Alastair Campbell and more

28 August 2013 (The Guardian)

A group of high-profile linguists reveal the impact languages has had on their lives and what sparked their passion for learning languages.


The Guardian Public Language Champion Award

20 August 2013 (Third Year Abroad)

Has someone famous inspired you to learn a language? Who is your Celebrity Language Idol? (Wow - imagine that as a show!) Do you think someone well-known deserves to win an award for their Services to Languages? Then you need to nominate them for the Guardian Public Language Champion Award!

The British Academy has partnered with the Guardian to raise the profile of language learning in the UK. From August 2013 The Guardian will be campaigning to increase public interest in and awareness of the impact language learning has on British society. They want to put language learning on the agenda with the government, industry, education, media and the public and generate a national debate on the importance of language learning.

Up to 5 nominations can be submitted by Friday 30 August 2013.


Tennis - Novak Djokovic says learning Chinese language is difficult

31 May 2013 (Tennis World)

Tennis - Novak Djokovic is the world's top ranked player and quite good when it comes to playing tennis. But the Serb is also pretty good when it comes to speaking languages.

The Serb revealed his love for the languages during his press conference on Thursday.



Bilingualism Steps Into a Leading Role - Viggo Mortensen and Other Actors Take Roles in Foreign Films

29 March 2013 (New York Times)

Viggo Mortensen, who speaks fluent Spanish, plays two roles in the Argentine movie “Everybody Has a Plan,” directed by Ana Piterbarg.


Celebrities speaking languages

10 December 2012 (Routes Cymru / YouTube)

Routes Cymru posted the following YouTube links on Twitter. We thought you would enjoy using them with your pupils to promote languages.

The Coaches: part four

20 November 2012 (Twitter - UEFA on YouTube) speaks to the likes of Carlo Ancelotti, Gérard Houllier, Arsène Wenger and Roy Hodgson about how they handle multilingual squads.


University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages