Languages for all – why should everyone learn a language?

Learning a language boosts self esteem, improves communication, and opens doors.


According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages: Research shows that language learning has a whole host of other benefits for students.

Building a solid foundation: Links between language and literacy.

All aboard the School Bus! Bringing life-changing education directly to where it’s needed most.

Jill Fernando from the British Dyslexia Association on why it’s so important for learners with special educational needs to learn languages: “In today’s increasingly multicultural and multilingual world, learning languages is a right and should be available to everyone, whether or not they have special educational needs. There is significant evidence that language learning can be a stimulating experience for learners with special educational needs. The opportunity to be exposed to a new language and a different culture leads to a richer and broader education.”

David Wilson from on the challenges of teaching languages to learners with special educational needs: “Attitude is perhaps the hardest challenge of all. In reference to MFL learning and moderate learning difficulties, a special school head teacher once remarked that “the only ‘disabling’ conditions that our pupils have are low expectations and assumptions made by adults”. Like their non-SEN peers, students with SEN will only reach their full potential if they are given the opportunity to move outside their comfort zone and to learn new skills.”

CODA’s national conference on Inclusive Language Learning took place at Nottingham Trent University on 22 Jan 2014 to bring together stakeholders from all sectors with an interest in inclusive language learning. It showcased outputs and results, informed and offered practical advice and support to participants with the aim of stimulating and raising awareness of inclusive language learning.

Languages Today magazine, inclusive language learning issue, January 2014: “Here at ALL, we believe in languages for all – that everyone has a right to learn a language, regardless of social status, disadvantage or disability, and that if done appropriately and well, all learners can be successful. What’s more, it can have hugely positive effects on self esteem, communication, social skills and cultural awareness.” In this issue, we discover how language learning is blossoming among students with special educational needs, how indigenous languages are being preserved in remote Aboriginal communities in Australia; how and why languages are taught to disadvantaged children in New York City; and all about bringing languages to ‘difficult to reach’ learners. To receive your copy of the magazine, join ALL now!

Commission of the European Communities (2003) Promoting Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity: An Action Plan 2004-2006: “Language is the path to understanding other ways of living, which in turn opens up the space for intercultural communication. The ability to understand and communicate in other languages is a right and a basic skill for all European citizens.”

CODA (Consolidation, Outcomes, Dissemination, Agency) is a one-year project being implemented by a consortium of five European partner institutions, and funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the EU Commission. It builds on two previous initiatives: ALLEGRO (2002-2005) and VIVACE (2006-2009). Starting from the assumption that all EU citizens, regardless of social status, disadvantage or disability, have a right to share in the vision of a united and multilingual Europe, these award-winning projects brought language learning to disadvantaged groups of all kinds. Inclusive language learning is at the heart of this project. CODA’s aim is to organise wide-scale dissemination of the results of the two previous projects, further spreading the message that access to language learning strengthens social cohesion and personal development and promotes intercultural dialogue.

Inclusive Education in Action‘ aims to strengthen the focus on inclusion in education which is recognised as a basic human right and the foundation for a more just and equal society.

UNESCO – addressing exclusion: “If the right to education for all is to become a reality, we must ensure that all learners have access to quality education that meets basic learning needs and enriches lives. Still, today, millions of children, youth and adults continue to experience exclusion within and from education around the world.” lists books and articles about language learning and SEN, and features skill development resources designed to equip students with special educational needs to access a broad and balanced curriculum. is a not-for-profit website which aims to support language teachers to make effective provision for learners of all abilities. It takes as its starting point the conviction that second language learning is a gateway to significant personal benefits, that everyone can benefit, and that no-one should be excluded.

Language learning and SEN discussion forums include the SENCO Forum, MFL Resources and the SEN Network.

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