The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #26 March / April 2017
News Brief
by Erik Zidowecki
March / April 2017 | 
News Brief
Volunteers Work To Save
500-Year-Old Dying Creole

Have you ever heard of the language Kristang? Probably not, since it is a creole which has only been around for the last 500 years. It was created as a means of communication between the conquering Portuguese and the local people of Malaysia and Singapore in the 1500s.

It thrived in the Malayan area for centuries, but now it is on the brink of extinction, with less than 1000 speakers. Endangered languages don't normally stand a chance of surviving because not enough new speakers are introduced to ensure their continuance.

But with the help of volunteers in Singapore, this unique Portuguese and Malay creole might just stand a chance.

Kevin Martens Wong, a linguistics major at the National University of Singapore, formed the Kodrah Kristang, which means "Awaken, Kristang", in 2015. Its mission is to find the remaining speakers in Singapore, learn the language, and pass it along.

Now Kevin and his group of volunteers have taught over 200 new learners the language and are planning the first Kristang Language Festival in Singapore in May 2017.

Find out more at

Report: Foreign Language Learning
Should Be Compulsory

According to a new report, commissioned by the Northern Ireland Languages Council, learning a language in school should be mandatory.

A survey of over 100 schools in Northern Ireland, conducted by researchers from Stranmillis University College, found that while many schools had students learning popular languages like Spanish and French, not all schools had language programs.

This is because in Northern Ireland, learning a second language is not a requirement of the primary school curriculum. It is, however, in neighboring England and Scotland.

The report concluded that there was "a lack of equity in provision for children" across the country. It also found little consistency in the frequency of the lessons as well as at what age they were begun.

It found that while most of the principals and teachers who participated in the study agreed that the learning of an additional language was important and valuable, some also expressed concerns about the lack of support and resources available. Since it is not measured in the final assessments of the students, those reponding said that while important, teaching foreign languages was not a priority for the schools.

Still, the report's authors claimed that the development of language skills was "vital for economic prosperity, social cohesion and the acceptance of diverse cultural identities", and "hoped that the findings of this study may encourage policy makers, business, and educational providers to support the revision and improvement of current curriculum provision in additional language learning".

By comparison, more than 80% of primary pupils in the European Union (EU) learn an additional language.

News Brief
Writer: Erik Zidowecki

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.


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