Foreign Language Learning after Brexit

UEA Public Lecture Series

Admission FREE and open to the community

Thursday 23 February 1.10 – 2pm, Lecture Theatre 1

Mike Byram  –  Durham University, UK

"One immediate effect of Brexit was a rise in hate crimes against ‘foreigners’ and ‘immigrants’. This should not have been a surprise given the nature of the campaign and the acts of some politicians, not least the infamous image produced by Farage. Even speaking a foreign language in the street can lead to people being attacked. This reaction was the very opposite of my professional interests and commitments over many years, as a language teacher, trainer of language teachers and researcher into language teaching and learning. My lecture will therefore have an unapologetic personal dimension but will also ask – and perhaps answer – some general questions about language learning and, especially, about language teaching. For the essence of language teaching is internationalism, a counter-balance to nationalism and jingoism and the prejudices which support them. Brexit appears to be stimulating those prejudices. Can language teaching and other elements of general education act to counter prejudice through an internationalist perspective and action?  The Brexit context has produced an outlook which is more pessimistic than optimistic but I will try to suggest some ways in which pessimism can at least be reduced."

Michael Byram is Professor Emeritus at Durham University and Visiting Professor at the University of East Anglia. He read French, German and Danish at King’s College Cambridge, and wrote a PhD on Danish literature. He then taught French and German at secondary school level and in adult education in an English comprehensive community school. After being appointed to a post in teacher education at Durham in 1980, he carried out research into the education of linguistic minorities, foreign language education and student residence abroad. His books include Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative CompetenceFrom Foreign Language Education to Education for Intercultural Citizenship, The Common European Framework of Reference. The globalisation of language education policy (edited with Lynne Parmenter), New perspectives on intercultural language research and teaching; exploring learners' understandings of texts from other cultures (with Melina Porto) and co-editor of From Principles to Practice in Education for Intercultural Citizenship. He is the joint editor with Adelheid Hu of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Language Teaching and Learning. In the 2000s he was a Special Adviser to the Language Policy Division of the Council of Europe, and is currently participating in work on Competences for Democratic Culture at the Council of Europe. 

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