Should we all speak the same language?
At SOAS, we don’t think so. SOAS helps the world to keep talking. Understanding a region’s languages is essential for understanding its politics, society, religion and culture. Through learning and teaching languages, we ask different questions to advance development, prosperity, security and cohesion.
In the early 1990s, tens of thousands of ethnic Nepalis were declared illegal immigrants and expelled from Bhutan, even though their families had lived there for generations. Professor Michael Hutt, who is fluent in Nepali, visited the refugee camps in Nepal to hear – and then retell – the stories of the stateless. His research informed the international response to the crisis and two-thirds of the exiles are now rebuilding their lives in third countries. Today, these language skills are being passed on to a new generation of listeners and storytellers at SOAS.
Now we are seeking donors to sustain our teaching of languages such as Amharic, Bengali, Burmese, Hausa and Vietnamese – languages that open doors to the lives of a billion people but are taught almost nowhere else in Europe.
Find out more about SOAS languages
SOAS is piloting a new extracurricular language learning programme which employs refugees to help deliver language education to university students.
Chatterbox works with skilled refugees to provide training, contacts, and work experience in the languages sector. The service will offer language students one-hour sessions with native language speakers to practice and improve their speaking and listening skills.