The Open University is celebrating 20 years of languages.
The Department of Languages in the Faculty of Education and Language Studies (FELS) marked the milestone on 29 September 2011 with an event in the Berrill Lecture Theatre at Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, that brought together past and present members of staff, colleagues from across the University, external guests and speakers.
The programme included a wide range of contributions, including a message from the Vice Chancellor who emphasised the importance of languages for social cohesion and creating a better understanding between people, cultures and societies.
Professor Alan Tait, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Curriculum & Qualifications) paid tribute to the challenges that the Department had to overcome and the innovations that resulted from meeting these challenges. Professor Tait talked about the "skill of working in another language" and the possible threat that the increasing monolingualism in the UK poses for the country.
Dr Adam Marshall from the British Chambers of Commerce stressed the importance of languages for trade and commerce and focused on three areas: recruitment, international trade, and British involvement in international institutions. He also made the case for language departments refocusing on equipping students with the language skills that they need to compete in an increasingly international workplace.
Professor Marie-Noëlle Lamy and Margaret Nicolson provided an overview of the history and development of the Department of Languages since 1991, both from a Walton Hall campus and a regions/nations perspective.
Dr Regine Hampel presented an overview of how the research and scholarship of the Department of Languages had evolved since its inception. Her focus was on the use of technology to overcome the possible isolation of the distance language learner.
Recorded contributions from Associate Lecturers, students and colleagues from around the world also featured in the programme which ended with a demonstration of some of the new technology that is used in the department, followed by a drinks reception.
The event is now available to watch online.