Celebrating International Mother Language Day

In today’s interconnected world, the ability to speak multiple languages and communicate across linguistic divides is a critical skill. Even partial knowledge of more than one language is beneficial. Proficiency in additional languages is a new kind of global literacy. Language learning needs to be expanded for all – young and old.

Advances in machine translation technologies can reduce the barriers to communication, even before language proficiency develops, and tools like Skype in the Classroom can connect young people across space, time and language barriers. Our Learning Tools, available for free and across many platforms, support reading comprehension, sight word recognition and writing for language learners. Indeed, technology plays an important role in personalizing learning at scale, a key finding from our recent research on “The Class of 2030.”

In 2017, Microsoft partnered with the Salzburg Global Seminar to support the development of the Salzburg Statement.

The Salzburg Statement for a Multilingual World, launched on International Mother Language Day (February 21), offers clear recommendations on policy making, teaching, learning, translation and interpreting. The Statement calls for action from all stakeholders, which includes researchers and teachers; community workers, civil society and non-governmental organizations; cultural and media voices; governments and public officials; business and commercial interests; aid and development agencies; and foundations and trusts.

In a world with more than 7,000 languages – but where 23 languages dominate – linguists, academics, policymakers, and business leaders have come together to call for an uptake in policies that value multilingualism and language rights as part of a new Salzburg Statement.

The Statement and its recommendations were co-drafted by an expert group of over 40 Fellows (participants) of the Salzburg Global Seminar session, Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World, which took place December 12-17, 2017, in Salzburg, Austria.

During the five-day session at Schloss Leopoldskron, Fellows across multiple sectors collaborated and reflected on the importance and implications of national language policies; the role of language in creating social cohesion; strategies for language teaching; the advantages of multilingualism in the workplace; and the importance of linguistic diversity and language rights vis-à-vis the Sustainable Development Goal on Education.

Microsoft presented at the sessions, demonstrating advances in machine translation, Skype Translator, and live captioning or subtitling for Powerpoint.

For more information, visit https://www.microsoft.com/education.

Download Multilanguage versions of the Salzburg Statement here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/statements/multilingualworld.

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