Brexit and languages

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Oxford students have helped to put on a multi-lingual poetry writing workshop at Oxford Spires Academy.

Pupils at the state secondary school in East Oxford were encouraged to express themselves through poetry in different languages.

The workshop was a collaboration between Oxford University’s Creative Multilingualism research project and Oxford Spires Academy’s poetry hub. It was led by award-winning Iraqi poet, Adnan Al-Sayegh, who has lived in exile since 1996 and been based in the UK since 2004.

‘One of the main aims of the Creative Multilingualism project is to show that the linguistic diversity in UK schools, and the UK in general, has tremendous potential both in terms of fostering productive communication across cultural groups, and in terms of creative thinking and writing,’ says Professor Katrin Kohl, director of the project.

‘These workshops encourage students to be creative in their own language and across languages.’

32 languages are spoken by children at Oxford Spires Academy, and the majority do not have English as their first language.

Students from Syria, Algeria, Tanzania, Pakistan and Sudan heard Mr Al-Sayegh speak about the importance of poetry, which he considers to be a basic human need.

He described how poetry is not restricted to the written word but is found in music and on the street, with the power to build bridges between people, as having a poetic heritage is something shared by all cultures.

A more detailed summary can be found here.