What does the future hold for languages in a post-Brexit UK?

As the debates and scrutiny of the EU Withdrawal Bill continue, Aberystwyth University is hosting a conference tomorrow (21 September) on the implications of Brexit for language policy. The event is organised and sponsored by the Language, Culture and Identity Research Network of the Wales Institute for Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) and the WISERD Centre for Welsh Politics and Society.

The UK Language Policy after Brexit 2017: The Influence of Devolution conference takes place against a back-drop of widely reported falls in the numbers of young people opting to study modern languages at school and university.

In 2016 alone, entries for A-levels in French, German and Spanish dropped 6.4%, 4.2% and 2.7% respectively. With this in mind, academics from across the UK will convene at Aberystwyth to address the question of what the future holds for modern languages in a post-Brexit UK.

Also for discussion will be policy and academic debates about the potential effects of Brexit on regional and minority languages in the UK. These include the strategies and policies adopted by governments in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to revitalise Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish.

The Conference Plenary speaker will be Professor Sue Wright from the University of Portsmouth who will discuss ‘What makes language policy work?’

One of the main organisers of the conference is Dr Elin Royles, co-founder of the WISERD Centre for Welsh Politics and Society, and a Senior Lecturer in Aberystwyth University’s Department of International Politics.

Dr Royles said: “Some of the key questions we will be asking will be what is the significance of Brexit for the strategies and policies adopted by UK nations to promote minority languages given we are departing from the context created by EU commitments to respect cultural and linguistic diversity and to safeguard and enhance Europe’s heritage?

“Similarly, given that education is devolved, how might the teaching of modern foreign languages be approached differently across the UK after Brexit?

“The conference strongly relates to our interdisciplinary research centre’s active engagement in policy discussion and debate on language policy, particularly in the Welsh context. By co-organising and hosting this UK-wide event we welcome the opportunity to give detailed consideration to examining the implications of Brexit for language policy from different perspectives within the UK.”

The WISERD Centre for Welsh Politics and Society aims to develop understanding of contemporary politics and society in Wales in the context of an inter-connected world, supporting and delivering world-class research in the social sciences, and contributing to public knowledge and debates and policy development in Wales.

View more information about the event.


Image credit: Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons