[Edling] Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Reframing language education for a global future

Francis Hult francis.hult at englund.lu.se
Tue Sep 25 07:24:16 EDT 2018

Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Reframing language education for a global future

The Transnationalizing Modern Languages (TML) project, initiated 2014, has brought together an international team of researchers and practitioners to address key issues in language and culture education. Starting from the forms of mobility that have defined the development of modern Italian cultures across the globe, the project has engaged with cultural associations, schools, policy-makers and individuals in an exploration of heritage, cultural memory, and educational practices, carrying out work in the UK, Italy, South America, Australia, Ethiopia, the USA, and Namibia.

This report calls for the reframing of the study of MLs in Higher Education in the UK and, more broadly, of approaches to the study of languages and cultures.

Key Issues in Language Education

Within a context of declining recruitment in MLs at school and university, we have isolated three issues that urgently need to be addressed:

1. The overly direct association between language and nation needs to be challenged. This association sustains the perception of monolingualism as the norm and ignores the fact that large sections of the UK’s population, including sign language users, have a wide range of language abilities. It also undervalues the agility with which people move between and translate languages and cultures.

2. The perception that ‘everyone speaks English’ creates the notion of English as a ‘neutral’ lingua franca. This, in turn, promotes a view of the world in which linguistic and cultural differences are erased and everyone speaks the
same language and shares the same culture.

3. Language learning is often seen as the acquisition of a set of skills and this suggests that languages can be learnt with little reference to the cultures of which they are part. Language learning needs instead to be seen as an intrinsic part of the development of cultural literacy – the understanding of the interaction of the cultural processes that surround us and which create the environments in which we live and work.

More information:


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