“You are embarking on a wonderful adventure when you learn a language. It’s not a matter of translating the world into a different language: it is literally a matter of understanding the world in a different way”.

These were the inspiring words of David Hughes, Head of Office at the European Commission in Wales, in his keynote speech at the recent national final of the Spelling Bee at Swansea University. They are not only pertinent to the 72 budding linguists who made it to the final competition, but also to all young learners in Wales at a time of social, political and economic uncertainties for the UK.

David Hughes and Sian Stoodley from the European Commission Office in Wales receiving a gift from Kate Barber and Meleri Jenkins, Routes into Languages Cymru.

Despite this, David envisages that Brexit will increase the need for modern foreign languages and opportunities for languages and stressed to students: “Please don’t be discouraged by Brexit”. The EU, he says, will remain by far the UK’s biggest trading partner. He highlighted this point by quoting Willy Brandt, (German Chancellor 1969-1974): “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen [you must speak German]”. What a clear call to action for young people to learn languages!

David’s uplifting words were bittersweet, as 2018 marks the final year that the Spelling Bee will be funded by the European Commission Wales. After eight years, Routes into Languages Cymru’s collaboration with the European Commission will come to an end. The Project Team would like to extend their gratitude to European Commission colleagues past and present who have taken part in this unique language competition over the years.

Diolch! Thank you! Merci! ¡Gracias! Danke!

Thanks to the European Commission in Wales

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