On Tuesday 29 September, EUD participated in a seminar on Multilingualism and Language Diversity organised by ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe) and Cambridge English.
The purpose of the seminar was to address the importance and value of language skills in terms of employability.
The seminar program included a diverse number of experts including both the DG of Translation and the Head of Unit for DG Interpretation in the European Parliament, in addition to representatives from the European Commission. This is highly relevant considering the large pool of interpreters and translators that both the European Parliament and European Commission have on staff.
Thought provoking points were made about: how language is perceived in various countries; the coherence between language, education and work; language challenges in the work place and the priorities for language learning and teaching in Europe.
For EUD, this was an important seminar to attend due to our work in seeing sign languages regarded the same as other fully fledged spoken languages, specifically having sign languages formally recognised in legislation. Once sign languages are respected as the same as other languages, education and work places will be more accessible. For instance EUD made an intervention on how critical it is that sign languages be recognised, due to the direct impact this would have on a persons employment. Case in point, if an employer has a policy that its staff must be proficient in a specific number of languages, and only use spoken languages in that policy, sign language users will struggle to even have an interview let alone employment opportunities.
We met with representatives from Cambridge English and ALTE and very interesting discussions ensued regarding not just the 24 ‘official’ languages of the EU, but the 31 European Sign Languages used throughout Europe and assessment of fluency in languages. We are looking forward to continuing this exchange with them into the future about sign languages and its rightful place in multilingual Europe.