Welcome to the SOAS World Languages InstituteThe SOAS World Languages Institute (SWLI) features SOAS’ unique strengths in language teaching and research, bringing together a wide range of affiliated scholars and research students from across the School. 100 years after the foundation of SOAS, the Institute revalorises its distinctive expertise and asserts the social and political importance of languages for our research and teaching.
Language as a living medium lies at the heart of our social human nature and has always been a core theme at SOAS. Starting out 100 years ago with teaching languages of Asia, SOAS now combines language scholarship and disciplinary expertise with a regional focus. It has the largest concentration in Europe of academic staff concerned with Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and unparalleled expertise in a wide range of non-European languages. SOAS Language Centre offers an unsurpassed breadth of lesser-taught languages for a wide public audience.
The SOAS World Languages Institute supports world-leading language-based research, language teaching and outreach that make the expertise of its members more widely available to the wider world. The SWLI offers academic opportunities and stimulation across a wide range of language-based subject areas for the benefit of the local and the international scholarly community. Working with SOAS alumni and the Development Office, the Institute aims to secure strategic philanthropic funding to support language research and teaching at the School and to ensure the future sustainability of its specialised scholarship.
SOAS library is recognised globally as a national research library that holds invaluable academic resources for the study of the cultures and languages of Asia, Africa and the Near/Middle East. A further focus of the Institute is the digital humanities. New digital technologies make it possible to explore language data in new and innovative ways. They allow researchers to collect and preserve language data such as video and audio recordings, as well as manuscripts, and to make them available digitally. These new digital possibilities provide SOAS scholars with the opportunity to give speakers of lesser-known languages a voice and to bridge the digital divide by making recordings, preserving them and making them digitally available. The Endangered Language Archive (ELAR) housed at the SOAS library has been at the forefront in making endangered language collections digitally available. The Institute supports researchers in planning projects with digital components and aims to strengthen SOAS scholars’ expertise in the methods of the digital humanities.
The SWLI runs various events throughout the year, including talks, seminars, workshops, conferences and round table discussions, as well as book launches and film screenings.