Multilingualism-another reason to stay in EU

Labour Party

Later today I will speak at an event about about the importance of multilingualism, and higher education.

I work for an institution which, as many of you will be aware, is required by law to speak 24 different languages. I represent a city which prides itself on both multiculturalism and multilingualism. So I have some idea of just how important languages are, the opportunities they create- jobs, experiences and the invaluable contribution to lifelong learning they create.

But I am concerned about what will happen to language education following the referendum. If on June 23rd Britain votes to leave the European Union, it seriously jeopardise language education.

If we cut ourselves from the continent, then we effectively prevent future generations from pursuing careers and enjoying experiences which will be accessible to the remaining member states.

And what message will it send to young people? The incentive to actively learn another language will significantly diminish.

The single market undoubtedly opens huge opportunities, but in order to thrive within that environment, to take advantage of what it offers or to set up a business, then language skills are an essential part in determining that success.

British citizens still need to acknowledge that the ‘everyone speaks English’ phenomenon is outdated.

We must embrace the so called ‘Barcelona Objective’ – an ambitious plan whereby all European school children should be able to communicate effectively in two languages in addition to their mother tongue.

But if we vote to leave the European Union, then we risk further reducing those important learning opportunities for future generations and their ability to be competent in other languages.

The European Commission has created several learning portals which allow young people to expand their horizons by travelling abroad for a few months and taking part in specific learning programmes. Such programmes are of course available to British students and we should encourage them to participate.

Learning languages is just one reason why we should vote to stay in the European Union on June 23rd. The possibilities offered as a result of embracing multiculturalism and multilingualism are endless, exciting and offer a real economic return for the country. We shouldn’t throw away the opportunities created and offered by the European Union.

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

Last week, a female professor of employment and labour law in Canada said in a lecture to UK students in Kent that equality laws hamper women’s progress at work. Professor Fudge believes employment legislation such as the introduction of flexible working patterns, aimed at improving how women are treated in the workplace, reinforce traditional male and female roles in the family and workplace.

The reality is that equality legislation has helped thousands of people ensure they receive equal rights, pay, are not discriminated against and are generally better protected within the workplace.

The introduction of the Equality Act in 2010 wasn’t designed just to help women in the workplace, but aimed to provide better protection for those discriminated against for having a disability, those who face race discrimination and many other things besides.

You can read more on Professor Fudge’s comments here.

We anticipated that David Cameron would deliver his speech on the European Union last week. It was postponed, however, due to the terrible Algerian hostage crisis and it is unclear when exactly it will be re scheduled, although William Hague said yesterday on the Marr show that it would happen possibly as early as this week. A final decision on the date of the delivery, it is believed, will be announced today (Monday).

However, embargoed extracts of the speech have been released to journalists already, and Downing Street decided it was too late for them to be retracted.

In the released extracts Cameron warns: “If we don’t address these challenges, the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit.”

The British people cannot ‘drift towards an exit’, Britain is a member of the European Union and to drift away from it (and to put the responsibly on the British people for that happening) is completely inaccurate statement.

There is little agreement within the Coalition about the direction and next steps of the relationship. Dr Fox, for example, told BBC One’s Sunday Politics programme: “I think ultimately there has to be an in-out referendum because otherwise we’re going to have our politics in Britain constantly undermined by this debate and I think it’s very important that we settle one way or another the European argument for a generation.”

Meanwhile Business Secretary Vince Cable warned against a referendum. He said the EU needs to be reformed but threatening a referendum risks increasing economic uncertainty at a time of extreme fragility. You can read more on this here and here.

Maybe we will hear the speech in full this week and we can debate on the detail with more knowledge then, but the extracts we have seen so far should not come as a surprise to those of us who have been following the debate so far.