absolutely intercultural 89 +++ Anna Lindh Foundation +++ The Scholar Ship +++ Bloggers Training +++ Intercultural Dialogue +++

Anna Lindh FoundationToday we have focused on innovative initiatives for intercultural training in the Euro-Mediterranean region and around the world. Please listen to some unusual and innovative approaches to engaging young people in intercultural dialogue.

absolutely-open-minded:
Two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to take part in the Anna Lindh Foundation’s Euromed Bloggers Training on Intercultural Dialogue. The Hyperlink Project, an initiative carried out by the Anna Lindh Foundation gathered 18 influential and open-minded bloggers of the Euro-Mediterranean Region in Luxemburg, in the historical surroundings of the Centre Culturel de l’Abbaye de Neumünster . The bloggers from 17 countries came together for an exchange of views and a training session on the role of blogs in the promotion of intercultural dialogue. As a host of this podcast I was invited to this interactive training-session about intercultural dialogue and took the opportunity to talk to the organizers and trainers before the meeting started and the bloggers from all over the Euro-Mediterranean region arrived.

In the training we noticed that blogging, especially in those areas of the Mediterranean where creating and preserving peace is a constant concern, is a powerful tool for intercultural dialogue. As Andreu Claret, Executive Director of the Anna Lindh Foundation in Alexandria Egypt, expected the participants described the advantages of blogging, which allows barrier- and hierarchy-free communication and access to people in countries where the bloggers would sometimes not be allowed to travel.

absolutely onboard:
Listen to the description of an onboard intercultural environment where the participants of the intercultural training are out at sea. The Scholar Ship was an academic program aboard a cruise liner. The students travelled around the world for one semester and participated in an international study program.

The intention of the Scholar Ship was to educate the students in an intercultural way. The four key elements of the Scholar Ship program were

  • an onboard classroom learning environment,
  • a multicultural residential and social community,
  • an experimental-oriented port program, and
  • a strategic research initiative.

The Scholar Ship offered several onboard learning programs organized around the exploration of subjects in an interdisciplinary area of study. Students, professors and other staff explored subjects through classroom study, planned activities onboard, port programs, and informal interaction. Furthermore they offered the study of core subjects which were central to intercultural learning, like global issues and intercultural communication. Elective subjects and special programs during port stays completed the offer. Unfortunately, nowadays the ship is back in port for good because of lack of funding. However, before the first trip we had the opportunity of talking to Dr. Joseph D. Olander, the president of the Scholar Ship, during its planning phase. He compares the new experiences of the students on the Scholar Ship with explorers coming into contact with alien beings and being fearful of what he calls “strangeness”. The aim was to turn this fear into comfort and competence with all aspects of strangeness, including different languages, religious preferences, cultures and races.

Although the Scholar Ship project unfortunately had to be put on hold due to funding difficulties, efforts are still being made to embark on this intercultural journey again sometime in the future. We will certainly keep our fingers crossed for this very unusual and experimental form of intercultural training!

absolutely empowered:

We return to the intercultural training of bloggers by the Anna Lindh Foundation. I asked Adam Hill, one of the trainers, how you can hope to train bloggers in intercultural dialogue keeping in mind that we, the bloggers are seen by some as “digital prima donnas”, as “anarchic computer geeks”  but certainly as very independent individuals. You will in fact hear much more about what happened in the intercultural training during our upcoming shows 91 and 93. I made more interviews with the participants and asked them to share their experiences of intercultural blogging with you. So we have a lot to look forward to! Please also check out my new blogger friends’ documentation of the event:
Carmel Vaisman – YouTube video about the ALF bloggers training PART I
Carmel Vaisman – YouTube video about the ALF bloggers training PART II
(please “Leave a Reply” below if you have further links that should be published on this page)

The next show will be coming to you on 21 August from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 87 +++ internship in Germany +++ American vs German culture +++ studying and working in Germany +++

signpost04--Ursprungsphoto-Today we are a little student-centred and try to solve the question whether from the cultural point of view it makes more sense to study abroad or to do an internship abroad. If you want to participate in this debate, please feel free to post your opinion. I am sure we can pick it up in one of our future shows.

absolutely serious:
I have Kyle Hickman from California in the studio. Kyle is doing an internship with a big national newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine  and tells us a little about the cultural differences he has noticed between California and Frankfurt in Germany over the last couple of months. For example, he seems to have detected a difference in attitude towards interns who are doing a practical training in a company. While he expected to be exploited as cheap labour – making coffee, copies or “cold calls” he noticed that his present internship in Germany is really centered on the development of the intern – often even based on the intern’s personal interests. So, from the beginning Kyle has been trusted with what he calls “real work” and has been able to contribute to the success of the newspaper. However, he also found out that smiling too much could be seen as negative and has adapted his behavior in this respect. He did not find it difficult to integrate as he jumped at every opportunity to be social with his co-workers. Listen out for what Kyle shares about eye-contact and how he had to adapt to a different cultural approach because I think eye-contact and smiling are two pieces of mostly intuitive behavior we need to think about every time before we visit another culture.

absolutely cultural:
When students come to my office and express an interest in going abroad one of the first decisions to be taken is usually whether they want to study at one of our partner universities or find a workplace abroad to do an internship. Personally, I find it difficult to assist in this decision as the two are so different and both have their advantages and disadvantages.
I interviewed Marie Nielsson, a Swedish student who has been to Germany twice, once as an intern and then as a student. You may remember her from Episode 7? During her internship she seemed to have learned a lot about the German working style in an office but she thinks that as an Erasmus student it was easier to find out more about the foreign culture as she had closer contact.

absolutely fabulous:
When you sit in any university restaurant anywhere in Europe, you will often hear students complain about their own university. “There are too many lectures, too much too learn for the final exams and sometimes there is even a queue for the food in the Mensa. However, a couple of weeks ago I heard completely different opinions at a neighboring table. One student sounded more positive than the next. Enough to get me interested and in our last category today we listen to some students who are praising their own university, RheinAhrCampus in Remagen as if they were paid for this. So what has happened? Have times changed? Why are these students so positive about their campus? I asked one of the students, Christian Gauglitz, and it turned out that he was, in fact, the minder of a student-led marketing activity. The students had developed a flyer and an audio file highlighting the strong points of RheinAhrCampus. He told me how they had worked and what their aims had been.

The next show will be coming to you on 24 July from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 86 +++ Virtual mobility +++ C-shock +++

C-shock logo

In this show we will be going virtual, as we have done several times before, to explore two more aspects of the impact of the digital revolution. When he’s not podcasting, my co-host, Laurent Borgmann spends a great deal of his time encouraging his students to try a period abroad either as a student or as an intern but what about the idea of virtual mobility? I talked with Eva Abramuszkinová who is part of a European project which is trying to make it easy for students to be able to take part of their course at another university but virtually.

Fortunately for Laurent there are still many students who prefer to experience their mobility in the real world and it is for these people that the University of Portsmouth in the UK has developed an orientation game called C-Shock. The idea is that in playing the game you find out important things about being a student in the UK, such as normal behaviour in student accommodation, outside in public, everyday clothing and personal space. But does it work? I got a guinea-pig to try it out with me. And as you can hear, the consequences can be quite serious!

absolutely virtual:
Why would a university student choose to take part of a course as a virtual student rather than travelling abroad and getting the whole immersion experience? That was one of the questions I had for Eva Abramuszkinová from Newton College in the Czech Republic. The intercultural survival kit for the Ready for Virtual Mobility project can be found here.

absolutely playful:
A common dilemma in intercultural communication training is whether it should be culture specific (about one specific culture) or culture general. And by culture specific, we usually mean those types of courses which try to prepare you for work in Japan, India or some other specific location. But this is looking at culture specific from one end of the telescope. At the other end of the telescope is the receiving culture and there, the problem is, how do we prepare people from all over the world, to cope with living and working in exactly this place? The University of Portsmouth in the UK has tackled this challenge in part by making a culture orientation game called C-shock available online. Presumably the idea is that prospective students play the game to find out more about the UK and university life before they arrive or maybe even before they make a decision to come to the UK as against any other country. I explored C-Shock with my daughter who is a little microphone shy. So, useful? Accurate? I’d love to know what you think. Why not go to www.c-shock.com and try out the game yourself then leave a comment on our blog about how you did, whether you learned anything new or how it plays as a game. Or if you are a teacher you could give us some ideas about how to include this game in a lesson or project.

The next show will be coming to you on 10 July from Germany.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 85 +++ bicultural experts +++ representing Africa +++ living with two cultures +++

Francis Benson

We always try to find stories that carry a message either because they demonstrate strategies how we could make our own lives more intercultural or how you can develop a better understanding and heightened awareness of the intercultural needs and worries of those people around us who have chosen to or have to live between different cultures.

Today we ask the question: are expats always experts? When you live in a foreign country for a while, people expect you to know the language and at the same time they expect you to keep your native language on a high level. Apparently the same is true for cultures. When you have lived in a country for a couple of years people expect you to know about the politics, the everyday life or television shows in that country. However, they also assume that you keep in touch with your native culture and know what is going on there. Is it fair to expect these migrants to master two languages on a high level and even be knowledgeable in two cultures? Fair or unfair, we simply seem to expect these people to speak two languages and know a lot about our culture without ever losing touch with their own – because we will always see them as experts on their home countries.

absolutely expert:
I decided to discuss this phenomenon with a lecturer at our university, Jean Lennox, who has lived in Germany for a long time but is originally from England. I found out that she sometimes listens to Al Jazeera English radio station because they explain British politics from the outside which is easier to understand when you do not live in the country. I asked her whether the expectation that she should be knowledgeable about everything that is going on in Germany, but also in her original home country such as politics, television shows or even sports puts her under any pressure at all when she talks to friends in Germany or when she returns to her home town Manchester in England.

absolutely african:
Many people notice that when they are far from home they are expected be able to talk intelligently about politics, geography and everyday life in their home countries, or in some cases even about the continents they come from. This also happened to Francis Benson, who is from Ghana in Africa. He left his country and went to live and work in Japan. At this distance everybody suddenly expected him to know things about the whole continent of Africa.

absolutely bicultural:
Thomas Brown grew up in the Austrian and British culture. He is a person who has actually managed “to stand up to the international expectations” and adopted not only two cultures, but also two native languages. Although his main language up until the age of five was German and he spoke German with his mother, brother and sisters he does not remember what it felt like to switch between the languages. He did not even notice that the language spoken at home was different from the one in the street and only started to appreciate bilingualism as a teenager when he first found out that his command of two languages could help him impress the girls.

The next show will be coming to you on 26 June from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 84 +++ cultural intelligence re-visited +++ Cultural Intelligence Center +++ David Livermore +++ Debbie Swallow +++

David Livermore - Leading with Cultural Intelligence

absolutely democratic?:
This week on different days depending on the different election rules there are elections all over Europe to elect members of the European parliament. Since when has there been the United States of Europe I hear you ask? Well no there is no such thing as the USE but we do have the 27 member European Union which many years ago decided to inject this organization with more directly accountable democracy by having a European Parliament. The sad thing is that people don’t seem to have any European identity and the results will simply be a reflection of national politics in each country with a lot of easy protest voting because of the perception that the result doesn’t matter. What we need here in Europe is a good dose of cultural intelligence maybe! So we’ll concentrate on that in this show.

absolutely intelligent:
In the last show we heard about a practical illustration of the way in which you can be actively culturally intelligent and this phrase is obviously very attractive because it is not only being used by Elisabeth Plum here in Denmark who I talked with in my last show but also by an organization calling itself the Cultural Intelligence Center in the US. But the Cultural Intelligence Center do not use the phrase Cultural Intelligence in exactly the same way as Elisabeth Plum. So I talked to David Livermore to find out more. So what is the difference between the CIC and the Danish brand of cultural intelligence? It turns out that the answer is a fourth critical strategy factor in addition to Plum’s three of action, knowledge and emotion. In fact David Livermore has just finished writing a book about how his brand of cultural intelligence can be applied to business situations. Called ‘Leading with Cultural Intelligence – the new secret to success’ it will be published in October. Click on the David Livermore link to find out more.

absolutely cross border:
It turns out that there are a couple of self-assessment quizzes on the CIC website, which confusingly has the web address culturalq.com, and I wanted to know how useful these might be. So to test one of these out I recruited Greg Houfe in the UK who may shortly be starting a project in Denmark to see how culturally intelligent he was prior to working with Danes and Norwegians. What score would he get?

absolutely famous:
Debbie Swallow in England asked:

‘Can you help? I’m in need of a list of well-known people (perhaps known in their own cultures even if not internationally) who we would consider as having cultural intelligence. I want to cite them as being role models.’

Well I thought about this and it turned out to be a very difficult question. In the end I thought that famous people were likely to be the people who least need to be culturally intelligent because we tolerate all sorts of eccentricities of our celebrities whether they be politicians or film stars. In fact politicians tend to be overly nationalistic while film stars such as Elisabeth Taylor have a reputation for being very demanding as they travel around. So there’s the challenge. Can you think of anybody who is well known, at least in your country, who you would rate as culturally intelligent? The only suggestion I could come up with was … don’t laugh now … Ray Mears, the survival expert. Why? Because for him survival means being acutely aware of your environment and where that includes people, he tends to make an effort to find out about them and interact with them. You surely must have a better suggestion than this! And if you do then please add it as a comment to this post.

The next show will be coming to you on 12 June from Germany.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 83 +++ experience of studying and working in Germany +++ stereotypes +++ International Fair +++

Lubica at RheinAhrCampus

absolutely fresh:
When I speak to my students about planning a semester abroad one of my first tasks is usually to make them figure out strategically, what would be better for them– studying at one of our partner universities or doing an internship in a company abroad? Both options have their advantages. Today, I am speaking to Lubica Kuboveova who spent her last semester at RheinAhrCampus. She actually did both at the same time – studying and working abroad. I asked her how she managed to combine studying and working in Germany during her semester abroad and she tells us about her experiences. Lubica points out an important opportunity that she had when she came over. She could make a fresh start as nobody in the new place knew her before – and this allowed her to try out a fresh role in life.

absolutely unprepared:
What do students need to work on before they spend time in another culture?
Ellen Rana and Erin from America suggest that knowing some of the stereotypes about the country that you are going to visit helps you as long as you are prepared to break the stereotypes as soon as you see evidence that they are not true. The stereotypes help you know a little more about the culture that you visit but they also make you reflect about your own culture.

absolutely disciplined:
During our International Week on campus I asked Prof. Mert Cubukcu, a guest professor of town planning from our Turkish partner university why he recommends Germany as a destination for his students. He thinks that the mixture of different cultures in Germany but also the strictly defined discipline of life is an attitude that is not so easy to find in other countries.

The next show will be coming to you on 29 May from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 81 +++ Software of the Mind 3: updates +++ studying abroad +++ International Business Simulations+++

"I love being updated" by Daan Berg / DBreg2007

absolutely updated:
Together with Karsten Kneese and Fernando Reyero Noya, we continue to explore Geert Hofstede’s concept of Culture as the Software of the Mind. We discuss the aspect of cultural updates and how people need to adapt to new rules and behaviours due to changes in our society. Often they are brought about by changes in the law where as a result everybody around us starts behaving differently – for example after the smoking ban in public places. In fact, this update goes even further and there is a new word in the English language: “smirting”, which is a combination of “smoking” and “flirting”. This new behaviour pattern came with the non-smoking laws and allows a new kind of communication which lasts as long as a cigarette just outside the pubs. You wait until someone you would like to get to know in the pub gets up to have a cigarette and then join the person outside and use this 5-minute break together to get to know each other. Wikipedia has picked up this new trend and even describes the phenomenon of “passive smirting” as “the pastime for those who stand outside with friends or colleagues but do not actually smoke themselves.”

absolutely changed:
While most of the time we just react to updates and readjust our lives accordingly, some people actively open themselves to challenges and updates – for example by studying in another country in order to broaden their horizons. Aurora Mustonen from Finland is such a courageous person. She tells us how after her A-levels in Finland she decided that she wanted to move to England to do her bachelor’s degree.
It is amazing how such stays abroad do not only train our adaptability to other cultures but also seem to change our attitudes when we go back to our own cultures afterwards. This may be because we integrate successful pieces of behaviour which we learned and tested abroad into our home culture.

absolutely motivating:
In our last category, we go on to another Finnish exchange student, Anna Moisio, a student at our University of Applied Sciences, Koblenz, who took part in a course called “International Business Simulations”. She soon found out that while this was called a “simulation” her managerial tasks as the CEO of the simulated company with branches in Lithuania, England, and Hungary had to be pretty “real”.
Anna explains to us how she had the opportunity to prove herself as the boss of an international company and was able to put into practice what she had learned about motivation and leadership in lectures and books, all within her experience at the foreign university setting. This experience was particularly important for her, as after completing her master thesis she plans to set up her own company. We wish her good luck for that!

The next show will be coming to you on 1 May from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 80 +++ 3 year anniversary +++ Cultural FAQ

Celebration

As well as 80 being a nice round number, this show also marks the third anniversary of the podcast so we are telling the story of culture through some of the many pieces we have done over the last three years.

So this is a sort of audio Frequently Asked Questions to the topic of intercultural communication and competence.

Q1 What is culture? Are the Screaming Men of Finland culture? Is what they do singing?

Listen as Laurent explores the idea of culture as the software of the mind with two guests.

Q2 Why do we need to know about intercultural differences?I once had a colleague who was very proud of the fact that he had gone to work in Morrocco without doing any research beforehand; the idea being that the voyage of discovery was all the more pleasurable that way. However when I spoke with Mark Karstad about his time as a technical assistant at the Dubai Women’s College I could appreciate the value of a little forewarning about the expectations of behaviour between males and females there.

Q3 What are Critical incidents?These are the times when you break the unwritten rules of culture. These tend to be the incidents that make the most impression on you. Here are a couple; firstly we hear from Fernando, a Spaniard, talking about a strange party he was invited to during his stay in Germany.

And  a second example from Turkmenistan where American peace corps workers come to work and often wonder about some of the situations they witness.

You can see that things can be very different and that this can take some gettimg used to. So this brings us to

Q4 What is Culture shock? This is when so many rules are different that you get a psychological reaction.

Listen how Mark Anderson from South Africa describes his reaction on accepting a job in Korea.

Q5 Can you learn cultural competence? We have discussed several different ways in which you can train intercultural competence. One of the most innovative was surely the Swedish Living Library initiative.

Q 6 Are cultural differences apparent in different communication media such as email and virtual worlds? Does IT flatten the world and make everyone the same or does it also reveal cultural differences? I discussed this in relation to the Virtual World Second Life with Helen Keegan and Sus Nyrop.

Q7 Is there a connection between culture and language? Language is intimately connected to culture. For example Europeans going to China may experience much more of a culture shock because their languages have so little in common. I discussed the issue with Ken Carroll in Shanghai.

Greenlandic is not only a little spoken language but also difficult to learn for other reasons. Hear why from Jens Nyeland, a Dane who worked in Greenland for 3 years.

Q8 Are there any topics Which tend to arise more often? Looking back it seems that we talk a lot about education. Here is one example of the difference in attitude to learning as described by Bob Compton of 2 Million Minutes

Another topic which crops up rather a lot is the link between culture and music. We started with the screaming men of Finland and this is an extract of Weightless Escape by Moussa Diallo, a prime mover behind the Global Music Festival in Grenaa Denmark whose aim is to build bridges between the native and immigrant populations in Denmark.

So that’s a taste of what we’ve been doing over the last 3 years. Thank you to everyone who has taken part. We couldn’t have done it without you. If you have any comments then you can add them to our blog .

The next show will be coming to you from Germany on April 17th.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is Anne Fox:
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 79 +++ Borrowed Identities Part II +++ revisiting Achill Island +++ workshop insights +++

 

participants of the Borrowed Identities workshop from Germany/Angola, Spain, Lithuania, Finland, Hungary, Switzerland, and Germany I would like to take you back to the island where I took you a month ago. Previously, I shared my experiences of an Erasmus Intensive Programme with you and we listened to students and organisers who had taken part in it. We have more material about the project “Borrowed Identities” on Achill Island for you today.

absolutely developed:
In our first category Egle, Dainora and Marijus from Lithuania tell us how important this experience was for their own self-development and that the fact that so many students from so many different countries worked and lived together for two weeks was a challenge in itself.
We hear that the international workshops organized themselves democratically and some students were tempted to try out new leadership roles. It seems that the beautiful landscape on Achill Island inspired students in different ways – many of them found out more about themselves and their strengths and weaknesses. With the help of the “ship-metaphor” the students analyzed how they actually worked together as a team and how they could change roles. Some students tried to be captains, others were up in the look-out making sure that the ship does not hit an iceberg and some others were reading the maps and pointing out to the captain which direction to take.
Many students reported that the experience had helped them develop the confidence that they needed to be successful and at the same time enjoy the international teamwork.

absolutely focused:
Maria Koenen tells us how she was encouraged to have experiences on two very different levels: to do the work in the workshop but at the same time look at her own behaviour and the group dynamics within that workshop.
The Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) says that when you look out of the window you have to decide whether you focus on the tree outside or on a little spot of dirt on the window pane. He says it is impossible to focus on both at the same time. However, this is exactly what we encouraged our students to do. On the one hand the students had to concentrate on the contents of their international teamwork and on the other they were encouraged to talk about their behaviours and their positions within the workgroup and even to play with different roles within the team. This change of focus and perspectives was perceived as stimulating but rather unusual. Reports from the students were that during the two weeks they were forced to work within constraints which come very close to those in international work places where the job may be defined by somebody else and the colleagues were already there when you started.

absolutely real:
We listen to Sabine Rauh, who tells us that the other participants – like characters in a film – grew because of their self-development and the intercultural challenges they mastered during the seminar. She describes what it felt like at the beginning to find one’s place within this international team. Her job as student manager had put her in email contact with the other participants from Lithuania, England, Hungary and Germany but she admits that all this contact only felt real when she finally met the real students from the partner universities in the real train station in Dublin, Ireland.

absolutely helpful:
One of the factors that allowed participants to develop and grow was the students’ close contact with the local population on Achill. During the initial welcome reception the students had invited local people into their workshops. Among them was Anton, a local reporter from the Mayo News, who tells us how he joined the group only to write an article about the project but then was integrated in the workshops as the students appreciated his advice for the media workshop. In fact you can find out how useful Anton’s tips were. The students learned from him how to make the headlines of their travelogue “snappy” and how to vary the formats of the reporting by introducing little poems or even personal email messages in their travelogue.

absolutely European:
At the beginning of their international teamwork stereotypes about the Lithuanians, Germans, Hungarians and English really seemed to help because they seemed to make predictions about individuals’ behaviours possible. However, even during the first week these borders seemed to disappear and the way was free to look at personalities instead of nationalities.
In this show’s final category we hear how the group developed its own intercultural identity and turned into a kind of European family. Our 40 learners from 10 different nationalities on the Borrowed Identities Intensive Programme were able to get a much closer insight into what it means to work in European teams. They discovered that the diversity of cultural backgrounds produced a much richer team product than if the work had been done by learners from just one country.

The next show will be coming to you on 3 April from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 78 +++ Borrowed identities +++ Gaelic language +++

Souvenir from AchillJust as much as Achill seems to have become part of the annual calendar so does the Intercultural Management Institute conference each March. 2009 marks the 10th anniversary of the Washington conference and promises to be the best yet so if you haven’t already booked your place then I suggest you hurry. We’re hoping to be able to bring you some highlights from the conference in a few weeks but to get the full flavour you really ought to attend in person.

absolutely Irish:
We’re not talking about green souvenirs or drinking a pint of Guiness. Instead this is about about the Irish language, Gaelic, whose future is hanging in the balance. All over the world people are learning English mainly for practical economic reasons. But could something be lost if English is at the expense of the local language? Tom Johnston is a former teacher in Achill on the west coast of Ireland where Gaelic has been the native language. What is the situation now? Réka and Kerstin, two of the Borrowed Identity students went to find out.

absolutely musical:
Pride is an important element in keeping a language alive, and so, it turns out, is music. You may recall hearing the haunting song, The Island, on this podcast last year. It is not traditional but it was written by an Irishman and one of the activities for our visiting students this year was to learn this song from Kate so that they could perform it at our final evening event. As we’ll hear later, music is a way of maintaining and passing on traditions…so let’s go absolutely musical and hear how they’re doing.

absolutely Irish 2:
So what can be done to preserve a language? Let’s find out more from Tom Johnston who tells us about the Conradh na Gaeilge, the organisation promoting the use of Gaelic. Do you live in an area where the native language is threatened? Is anything being done to save your language? Should we be saving languages in the same way that we try to preserve animal and plant species? If you have any comments about this or any of our other content then do let us know.

The next show will be coming to you on 20 March from Germany.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Jan Warnecke