“Alea iacta est, the die is cast!” The 23rd and 24th June 2016 are potential strong contenders to find their way into future history textbooks.
We cannot say yet what effects this vote will actually have on Great Britain and the European Union. Many people and ‘experts’ will attempt to portray scenarios.
In discussions prior to yesterday’s referendum, although the language community was less divided about whether or not to vote for BREXIT, there was division as to whether a Leave vote could actually be positive for languages. Some argued at a recent Westminster Education Forum that BREXIT might actually require us to intensify our language provision due to the fact that we would have to work harder to convince business partners. At the same time, others were concerned that a Leave vote would lead to a somewhat hostile atmosphere in the country, particularly towards foreigners, immigrants and European citizens living and working in the UK.
As a charitable membership association we are not allowed to lobby and it is not our intention to do so. It is our duty, though, to ensure that our membership is supported through this difficult and for all of us new and uncertain time. Change can be approached with negativity and fear. The campaign has been too much driven by scaremongering in both camps; debates often lacked depth and factuality.
As an association, we see it as our duty to support the language community in embracing these new challenges. We will alert the Department for Education to the fact that many language departments in schools, colleges and universities rely on the contribution from colleagues who are employed under the European Union freedom of movement laws. As a community we will need to work with the government, our cultural representatives and embassies so that BREXIT will not lead to a further crisis in the supply of teachers in this country.
With the looming change at the helm of the government later in autumn 2016, the language community will have to monitor and work closely with those partners to ensure the focus on languages in the curriculum does not get lost as it did at the start of this millennium.
As an association, we aim to support our members in creating a positive atmosphere and an outlook focusing on the benefits of multilingualism and multicultural understanding. If the negotiations with the EU lead to a final exit by Great Britain, the country will need more than ever to understand other nations, cultures and international partners, if it wants to be a global player outside of the EU, and avoid what many fear will lead to a greater isolation of the island.
As an association, we will closely monitor the developments and will use our local, regional and national meetings to inform our national and international policy work.”