Liverpool, France, and learning languages
posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2008 02:16 PM
In June i made a rare trip to Liverpool for the Big Hope conference. Around 400 students attended drawn from many faiths and backgrounds along with some prestigious speakers including Cherie Booth QC (wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair), A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former prime minister of India and Mary McAleese, president of Ireland, plus heads of catholic and Jewish faiths. Luke Aikman and i did a work shop over four days on establishing a social business which you can see on i-genius news http://www.i-genius.org/news/index.php/id/130
Then i went to South France for a week’s cycling amongst the mountains and valleys of Cote du Luberon. France is so beautiful in late spring/early summer and the views, incredible food and gorgeous farm house hotels made it an incredible trip.
Last week i attended the 2gether08 conference in east end of London which was sponsored by British television’s Channel 4 http://2gether08.com/. Was great to work with Bold Creative on a project which involved getting teenagers and a group of older folk to work together in tackling some topical issues http://www.boldcreative.co.uk/. It’s frightening the extent to which young people in London feel threatened by knife crimes. This year, 19 teenagers in UK have been killed by knife attacks from other young people and so far, no one seems to know how to stop this latest craze.
I am fascinated by the way young people and adults interact. In the UK and maybe also in the USA a real lack of understanding seems to have emerged in recent years. It’s like young and older people not only lead different lives (they always have!) but they no longer seem to understand each other. What struck me about the Bold project was the way in which we were almost speaking a different language. One girl, Michelle, even said that she has to stop and think before talking to adults because we speak different to her age group.
I envy those countries where there is much greater everyday connection between the full range of ages. In Europe, the Latin countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece seem to have a much better family and community spirit than the UK. Indeed almost all of the countries i have travelled to in Asia, Africa, South America seem to do this better than Britain. But why is this, the case? What is Britain doing wrong? If i find the answer, i will let you know. But i suspect some of you will find it before i do.
Much of my free time is spent trying to improve my ability to speak French. The BBC produces great language guides called French Experience. Maybe they should produce a new age language guide.