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Decolonising the ‘Modern’ in ‘Modern Languages’

Here we explore the teaching and decolonising of modern foreign languages, we look at the validity of the prefix ‘modern’ in this context.

In this video, Dr Ruth Bush explores the teaching and decolonising of modern foreign languages. Some of the topics which this video covers include:

  • the relationship between modern languages and and decolonising the curriculum (0:05)

  • the question of which languages we teach and the predominant focus on Western European languages in modern language teaching (1:39)

  • current initiatives around community languages such as Mulilingual Manchester (3:26)

  • the ways in which we can decentre and challenge methodological nationalisms in how we teach modern languages (4:04)

  • the extent to which ‘modern’ is a useful term to describe the teaching of language and culture and the importance of multilingualism and translation (5:27)

  • the need for strategies that avoid tokenism as we attempt to decolonise and diversify (7:07)

Ruth Bush is Senior Lecturer in French and Comparative Literature at the University of Bristol. Her research concerns African and Diasporic literary and cultural production, with a particular interest in material print cultures, translation, and decolonial practice. Her first book was Publishing Africa in French: Literary Institutions and Decolonization 1945–67 (LUP, 2016) and her next, Translation Imperatives, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press.

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Decolonising Education: From Theory to Practice

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