Salzburg Global Fellows Call for Multilingualism and Language Rights to be Valued, Protected and Promoted





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Feb 21, 2018
by Salzburg Global Seminar
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Salzburg Global Fellows Call for Multilingualism and Language Rights to be Valued, Protected and Promoted

On International Mother Language Day, Salzburg Global Fellows call on educators, businesses and governments to promote language diversity as a global norm Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

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.

“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.

“However, millions of people across the globe are denied the inherent right to maintain, enjoy and develop their languages of identity and community. This injustice needs to be corrected in language policies that support multilingual societies and individuals.

“We, the participants of Salzburg Global Seminar’s session on Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World, call for policies that value and uphold multilingualism and language rights.” 

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 on all stakeholders to act, 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 their unique way, each of these stakeholder groups can embrace and support multilingualism for social progress, social justice, and participatory citizenship. Together, we can take action to safeguard the cultural and knowledge treasure house of multilingualism for future generations.”

The full Statement – in English and multiple other languages – is available in full online: 

Download the PDF version of all languagues
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.

This session, held in partnership with ETS, Qatar Foundational International and Microsoft, is in line with Salzburg Global’s overarching mission to challenge current and future leaders to shape a better world. It featured as part of the organization’s multi-year series Education for Tomorrow’s World.

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.

To coincide with International Mother Language Day, the Statement has been translated into more than thirty languages, with many more in progress. All translations have been provided through the goodwill and voluntary efforts of the Fellows and their colleagues. If you wish to contribute a translation in your language, please contact Dominic Regester, Program Director, Salzburg Global Seminar.