16 May 2013
A group of London schoolchildren will debate endangered languages at SOAS, University of London on 21 May 2013.
The Year-8 boys from Bow School of Maths and Computing will discuss ‘We should save endangered languages’ and will also have the opportunity to take part in a Swahili language taster.
The debate is part of the programme events running for Endangered Languages Week 2013 at SOAS from 20-28 May 2013.
Back at school, the pupils are taking part in The Language Landscape, a project run by SOAS postgraduate students and alumni.
The Language Landscape was born out of Endangered Languages Week two years ago. It seeks to raise awareness of issues related to language documentation, multilingualism, language endangerment and language diversity: all key areas of research for the SOAS Linguistics Department.
A website, developed by the project leaders, enables people to upload recordings from all around the world. The school pupils have undertaken language-based projects, ranging from recording the languages of Bow School teachers to exploring different scripts.
Bow School teacher Clare Roberts commented: “The Language Landscape project has been a fantastic opportunity for students to recognise the value of their own multilingualism. Coming from diverse and often disadvantaged backgrounds, students often see their first or home language as a handicap rather than an advantage, and the project has really challenged these perceptions.”
PhD student Charlotte Hemmings added: “I am extremely impressed with how well the boys have taken the project to heart and how capable they now are of planning and presenting their projects as well as discussing complex issues to do with language diversity and language endangerment.”
The students’ visit to SOAS for Endangered Language Week marks the end of their language project.
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Now in its sixth year, Endangered Languages Week, hosted by the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project at SOAS and partly supported by Arcadia Fund, offers a range of events – from a workshop on technology and the documentation of African languages to demonstrations, displays and talks. The week is open to the general public and all events are free of charge.