This means that we cannot take English for granted. In the smaller European countries, students have to master English – at least in writing – since many of the texts they study are not available in the local language. But the demand for texts in English is lower in Spain and Italy, France and Greece, Russia and Romania.
Village in Nepal.
Beyond Europe, the situation is even more complicated. In Latin America, students basically need Spanish – or Portuguese. In West Africa, French is dominant. Angola and Mozambique use Portuguese in higher education. Arabic is supreme in the Middle East. Most of the big Asian countries – from Turkey to Japan – use their own languages for instruction at the university level.
The global learning environment is inherently multilingual. We have therefore initiated a small project, called LATINA/lingua, to test out the practical use of several languages other than English in teaching and learning. We will do this by:
- systematic linking to Wikipedia articles in languages other than English
- engaging participants to translate some of the central learning resources into these languages
- by combining Google Translate with linguistic editing
- and also by using direct translation (since Google Translate does not include Nepali)
- asking participants to include some materials from their own languages in their class presentations
- asking participants to do some blogging in their own languages
At the LATINA summer course 2008 we had several participants with limited experience of English in a classroom setting. To bridge the linguistic gap, we included (with their help) relevant Wikipedia articles in Arabic and Chinese in our course materials – and also started to use Google Translate between English, on the one hand, and Arabic and Chinese, on the other.
This year we are able to take the multilingual approach further, supported by a grant of NOK 60.000 from the Interkult programme at OUC University College, for which we are very grateful. We have invited participants with skills in several different languages to help us with the tasks above. Some work will be done during the course, but the main effort will take place during “week four” – immediately after the course ends (July 14-18).
The LATINA/lingua translator group will cover
The development of resources in Chinese (Mandarin) is managed in cooperation with LATINA/lab in Beijing. All materials will be published on the web and made freely available for educational and non-commercial adaptation and reuse.