Pupils and staff gathered for a one-off linguistics lesson of a very different kind on Tuesday 12 June, and to play a small part in preserving the world’s many endangered languages.

On this beautiful planet of ours are roughly seven billion human beings, and the current estimate is that there are approximately seven thousand languages spoken. Alarmingly, out of these seven thousand languages, it is predicted that half will disappear in the next eighty years. A staggering number in such a short space of time.

Leading the lesson were two members from the Wikitongues team: a global organisation, ambitiously building to complete a living platform for every language in the world. The lesson objective was to collect oral histories, diction and details of remote family dialects, to record on the Wikitongues’ database.

One pupil told of his mother’s home language from a small village in Liberia. An unknown language outside of the village, but thanks to the opportunity to share this information, the language has been captured by Wikitongues to preserve and, more importantly, share with linguists across the world. Sounds and stories can now be exposed, to keep the language alive and prevent it from becoming extinct.

Additionally, Fifth Form boys were able to choose from a lesson of either Swahili or Catalan, providing them with a taster into a skill that can be built upon further for their Theory of Knowledge within the IB.

Mr Dawson, Teacher or Modern Languages, commented, “This was a fantastic opportunity for the boys to really broaden their understanding of language. The Wikitongues staff were effusive in their praise for the boys and are keen to get them involved with volunteer work. Wikitongues’ goal of documenting all seven thousand of the world’s languages is phenomenal and I encourage boys to make use of this partnership to the fullest extent.”

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