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  • Writer's pictureChris Sowton

Presentation: "Cross-disciplinary perspectives on the role of language inenhancing the resilience"

Updated: Sep 22, 2019

This presentation was delivered at UCL-IOE's "ANGEL Conference" in London on May 9th, 2019.


The focus on language in the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report (containing more than 300 mentions) represents a necessary and positive change from the Sustainable Development Goals, where they are mentioned only once in their entirely (in an optional thematic indicator). Furthermore, the specific focus of the GEM Report, on migration, displacement and education, highlights the crucial importance of language for refugees and internally displaced people. This presentation will focus on my work in the British Council’s Language for Resilience Research Hub, a cross-disciplinary group of academics and practitioners looking at the original five themes of this work as presented in Capstick and Delaney (2016). My presentation will focus specifically on my particular thematic area, namely the role which language plays regarding access to education, training and employment. I will argue, firstly, that the value of language in schools, training centres and workplaces cannot be underestimated in refugee communities, especially given that so often they find themselves economically, socially and politically marginalised, secondly that were refugees able to participate fully in these institutions in host countries, there would be a dividend which would be to the advantage of both refugee and host communities alike, and finally that a key mechanism for yielding this latent value is multilingualism and the transformative power of language. I will also share the main outcomes of the Research Hub’s findings with regards to the other main themes pertaining to language for resilience, namely: home language and literacy development; language and social cohesion; addressing the effects of trauma on learning; and building the capacity of teachers and strengthening education systems.

A pdf of my PowerPoint slides at this event can be downloaded here.

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