At a time when Language learning and cultural diversity in England are again under pressure it is nice to hear of projects that are championing an international ethos for personal, social and economic purposes.

The city of Newcastle has set up International Newcastle with Our Newcastle Our World, an evolving international city plan and partnership, driven by the vision of  children and young people (aged 0-30) as confident, global citizens, with events and activities around languages and internationalism.

Of course the Northeast of England has long been involved in international affairs and linguistic and social mixing, given its coast facing the North Sea and the proximity of Europe; Newcastle is where the Roman Wall (the boundary of the Empire, also named Hadrian’s Wall) began, or ended, according to your viewpoint – at Wallsend, and historians of the Wall identify a multicultural, multi-faith and multi-lingual life for the duration of that occupation. Latin of course had a marked influence on the development of language here as well as elsewhere on the continent, and is still a major part of our linguistic make-up.

Later on the North-East attracted the attention of the Vikings who brought other customs and language influences to bear; subsequently the Normans built their New Castle here and brought their own version of French into our medieval society.

Since then more nationalities have come to make their home in the area, for reasons of work and industry, for educational purposes, because of displacement, to join sports teams and cultural arenas, and of course to provide their own cuisine to Geordies who love it!

So it is appropriate that Internationalism be high on the agenda. So what is International Newcastle trying to do?  They describe here :

Their ambitions:

  • Promoting and valuing tolerance
  • Celebrating diverse communities, languages and cultures
  • Building skills and supporting employability
  • Promoting investment in communities and jobs
  • Making a great place to visit, live, work, study, do business and invest in

And vision:

  • We are a welcoming, friendly city to visit, live and work in
  • We are outward looking and encourage international collaboration
  • We value difference and embrace diversity across all our communities
  • We create international opportunities and nurture skills, talent and growth
  • We share our expertise and strengths internationally and learn from others
  • We engage locally and globally to address urban challenges and reduce inequalities
  • We are committed to achieving the global 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • We will address the Climate Emergency across all our activities


The work programme has three interconnected strands: Connecting InternationallyNewcastle City of Languages and promoting Internationalism in the City.

The team is working with local, regional and national and international partners, including ALL and ALLNE and British Council. Newcastle City of Languages promotes the uptake of MFL in schools, wider language learning in the community and business and celebrates diverse community languages and cultures.

There is a series of Resources pages on the website for schoolswider language learning and English as an Additional Language (adults) and  Online Resources for Language Learning and Teaching to support people during the pandemic.

Website :

British Council  is working with several cities in England in a focused way to develop their international cultural relations work, which includes Newcastle. The approach and context, as well as how formal the partnership is, varies across each location. The other cities include Coventry, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool City Region and Hull, although none of these currently have the specific focus on languages that Newcastle does.

Written by Steven Fawkes.

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