Latest News

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

English - Dominance

Lost in translation: is research into species being missed because of a language barrier?

4 April 2022 (The Guardian)

More focus on non-English language reports would be good for conservation and help close the gap between global north and south, argue researchers.

“It’s not that I’m a bad scientist,” she says. “It’s just because of the language.”


Can English remain the 'world's favourite' language?

23 May 2018 (BBC News)

English is spoken by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, but do the development of translation technology and "hybrid" languages threaten its status?


Have we reached peak English in the world?

27 February 2018 (Guardian)

One of Britain’s greatest strengths is set to diminish as China asserts itself on the world stage.


Icelandic language battles threat of 'digital extinction'

26 February 2018 (Guardian)

Unlike most languages, when Icelandic needs a new word it rarely imports one. Instead, enthusiasts coin a new term rooted in the tongue’s ancient Norse past: a neologism that looks, sounds and behaves like Icelandic. [...]

But as old, pure and inventive as it may be, as much as it is key to Icelanders’ sense of national and cultural identity, Icelandic is spoken today by barely 340,000 people - and Siri and Alexa are not among them. In an age of Facebook, YouTube and Netflix, smartphones, voice recognition and digital personal assistants, the language of the Icelandic sagas – written on calfskin between AD1200 and 1300 – is sinking in an ocean of English.


Brexit: English language 'losing importance' - EU's Juncker

5 May 2017 (BBC)

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has told a conference in Italy on the EU that "English is losing importance in Europe".

Amid tensions with the UK over looming Brexit negotiations, he said he was delivering his speech in French.

"Slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe and also because France has an election," he said, explaining his choice of language.

[..] Before the UK joined in 1973, French was the main language of EU business.


How to prepare students for international communication

25 May 2016 (British Council Voices)

To communicate successfully in an international environment, you need to be able to grasp what is being said and respond appropriately.

In this blog, Chia Suan Chong offers three strategies to help students use English in international environments, including considering different cultural views of the same situation - an ideal exercise for those with a multinational class.


Languages: centuries of colonialism have made us lazy

23 May 2016 (Telegraph)

With the EU referendum only a month away, Europe is the hottest topic for debate in media and social circles. Don’t worry though, I am not about to start pontificating and debating the whys and wherefores of being in or out. Instead, I’m going to focus on one key issue that has been lost in the wider political debate and will remain constant and crucial whatever the outcome; that is the issue of language learning and why it is so important that as a nation we break the curse of centuries of monolingualism.


Eurovision contestants should have the courage to sing in their own languages

15 May 2016 (Independent)

Apart from being pointedly political, Jamala’s [winning] full-throttle blast against Russian colonialism was – inevitably these days – delivered for the most part in English. So, in fact, was Russia’s own entry, "You are the only one". Ditto Estonia, Croatia and virtually everyone else, except for the Austrian contestant who bravely risked singing in French.

It is easy to see why almost all the contestants taking part in Eurovision these days prefer to sing in English rather than their own tongue. They fear they won’t win unless everyone gets the message. [...] Still, one cannot help feel a certain melancholy about this trend. It is a sad day when even the French feel they have to sing in English.


Does the rise of English mean losing knowledge?

14 January 2016 (BBC News)

Are we "losing knowledge" because of the growing dominance of English as the language of higher education and research?

Attend any international academic conference and the discussion is likely to be conducted in English. For anyone wanting to share research, English has become the medium for study, writing and teaching.

That might make it easier for people speaking different languages to collaborate. But is there something else being lost? Is non-English research being marginalised?

A campaign among German academics says science benefits from being approached through different languages.


Why English isn’t enough

15 October 2014 (British Academy)

The question is often asked: Why should young British people worry about learning other languages if everyone else in the world places such an emphasis on the importance of developing a perfect command of English? But that is exactly the point. In the words of the Australian specialist in language education, Jo Lo Bianco: “There are two disadvantages in global language arrangements: one is not knowing English; and the other is knowing only English.”


Most Europeans can speak multiple languages. UK and Ireland not so much

26 September 2014 (Guardian)

Over half of people in the EU can speak at least two languages with 38% able to speak English.


The word on every street

7 March 2013 (TESS)

The way English is used around the world is evolving faster than ever. But rather than agonise over grammar, we should celebrate the glorious diversity of this global language.


Why should the British bother with languages?

10 November 2013 (The Boar)

Something must be done to address the disastrous inability of the British to learn languages, as the changing state of language means that we could find ourselves in the perilous position of being able to communicate with only ourselves.


English should be Brussels' official language, Flemish minister says

23 October 2013 (EurActiv)

If Brussels aspires to be an international city, it should make English its official language, the Flemish minister for education Pascal Smet has told EurActiv. “For the next twenty years, English will dominate as a global language. It is the language of the political world, of the diplomatic world, the tourism sector,” Smet told EurActiv on the margins of the launch of a project to boost multilingual education in the Belgian and EU capital.

The Flemish minister of education spoke at the launch of the so-called Marnix Plan for a multilingual Brussels, a bottom-up project to promote language learning in the Belgian capital, giving priority to French, Dutch and English.


Languages in Europe: We can't afford to rely just on a lingua franca

29 April 2013 (British Council)

Our Language Rich Europe research shows, among other things, that there’s a tendency that English is beoming the most widely chosen language at schools in Europe. That’s not much of a surprise as English has established itself as the lingua franca across Europe, with 51% of EU citizens speaking it as their first or second language. In comparison, German comes second with a total of 27% of EU citizens speaking it. English is also the language predominantly used on the web and for business.

According to an estimate by META (Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance), 2000 languages worldwide will not survive in the globalised digitised world in a business and academic context. What does that mean for Europe? I have recently attended the Closing Conference of Language Rich Europe - so here are some thoughts...


English and Linguistic Imperialism – Time to move on?

22 April 2013 (Language Rich Europe blog)

'Linguistic imperialism: still alive and kicking?’ was the topic of a British Council Signature Event at the recent IATEFL Conference and Exhibition in Liverpool. Robert Phillipson, the author of the 1992 book Linguistic Imperialism, stated in his opening comments that ‘English opens doors for some but closes it for many.’ The concern that local languages are often neglected in preference for English was one shared by many attending the session, although Sarah Ogbay (University of Asmara, Eritrea) counteracted that ‘what we usually see is that people want to learn English because it opens the door’ to opportunities rather than it being forced upon them.


Polyglots required if we want a place in the global academy

7 March 2013 (THE)

English cannot be the only acceptable language of scholarship, says Toby Miller. It’s arrogant, impractical and anti-intellectual.


Is English still the dominant language of higher education? – live chat

13 February 2013 (The Guardian)

Is global higher education dominated by one language and, if so, what are the implications for growth, from research to recruitment? Join us 15 February 12-2pm GMT.


Tongue-tied? Perspectives on English as the international language of science

30 January 2013 (The Guardian)

There is no argument that English has taken a firm hold as the language of modern science. How far should non-English speaking countries go to maintain their own languages?


Why do we continue to isolate ourselves by only speaking English?

5 November 2012 (Observer)

Britain's future economic and political wellbeing is being hamstrung by our reluctance to learn foreign languages.


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