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New November Language Festival begins from British Academy and Guardian

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Today the Guardian and the British Academy launch a new UK-wide Language Festival for the whole of November 2013.

Nigel Vincent, British Academy, Vice-President for Research and HE Policy, said: “Celebrating the importance of language learning and the UK's diverse cultural heritage, the festival will provide a platform for schools, universities, students, policy makers and employers from across the UK to debate and explore the wide ranging benefits of language learning.”

Paul Johnson, Deputy Editor of the Guardian, said: "The Guardian is delighted to be working with the British Academy to raise a public debate about the importance in our global society of learning foreign languages and the value of our of own indigenous and community languages here in the UK. This month long languages festival is a wonderful opportunity for thousands of people to be exposed to new languages and while celebrating them also reminds us why learning foreign languages is crucial to our national success."

As part of the 2013 Language Festival, schools and organisations can join the debate in a variety of ways, by: attending or hosting an affiliated event; engaging with interactive material such as the downloadable Language Festival packs on the Guardian’s website; participating in live online Q&A’s; and through social media. The downloadable packs have been designed to help people and organisations join the Language Festival by sharing creative ideas for events,  promotional materials, and interactive games.

As part of the Language Festival, a new mini exhibition entitled Voices of London will be on show at the British Academy (it will also be repeated at the Guardian offices in January 2014), showcasing images of fifteen Londoners from a range of linguistic backgrounds. At the same time, a new Guardian Witness online interactive campaign will be launched asking readers to submit their pictures and stories of languages they speak or have in their town or city. Readers can share photos and stories through Guardian Witness and the best pieces will feature on the Guardian website. Visitwww.theguardian.com/witness or download the free Guardian Witness app.

Language Festival 2013 will culminate in an awards ceremony for the British Academy Schools Language Award 2013 and the Guardian’s first ever Public Language Champion Award, voted for by the public. The awards will take place on 27 November 2013 with special guest and compère Huw Edwards.

The Language Festival is part of a wider national campaign, aimed at encouraging schools and organisations to get involved with, and to help raise the profile of, language learning and showcase its importance for the UK’s wellbeing. The joint campaign is running until March 2015, and as part of the campaign a new dedicated website developed by the Guardian and the British Academy provides a forum for language debates and discussions.

To visit the new languages website and download the Language Festival packs developed by the British Academy and Guardian visit: http://www.theguardian.com/education/series/the-case-for-language-learning. Further details are also available via @gdnlanglearn, @britac_news and by searching #languagesdebate.

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