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Multilingualism and COVID-19: Lessons Learned and Looking Forward

3 May @ 8:15 AM - 4 May @ 1:00 PM UTC-5

Free

The Study Group on Language and the United Nations presents

Multilingualism and COVID-19:

Lessons Learned and Looking Forward

A Virtual Symposium on 3-4 May 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a powerful impact on humanity.  In addition to the direct effects of infection, there has been a wide range of indirect effects on both individuals and social institutions throughout the world.  Pre-pandemic inequalities have been exacerbated, and new challenges have emerged as people attempt to cope with living and working through a public health crisis.  The United Nations is currently prioritizing ways forward, including how Agenda 2030 and the related work of continuing progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be put back on track from the major setbacks of the pandemic, as emphasized in Our Common Agenda, the recent report by the Secretary-General and the focus of the upcoming July 2022 High-Level Political Forum.

The present symposium draws attention to the essential role that multilingualism must play in initiatives by the United Nations, Member States, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and other stakeholders to foster peri-pandemic and post-pandemic development.  Language mediates all human experience.  Fully inclusive dialogue and problem-solving must involve substantive use of multilingualism to ensure that people can understand one another, access information equitably, and participate democratically.  In addition, all development initiatives must take linguistic minorities into account explicitly so that “nobody is left behind” due to their language background.

The symposium focuses on multilingualism with respect to Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3) and Quality Education (SDG 4), with attention to linguistic challenges that have occurred during the pandemic as well as creative and inclusive solutions that have emerged and can be built upon going forward.  The two-day virtual event brings together a spectrum of stakeholders including United Nations staff members, government officials, university scholars, and members of civil society to address issues and innovations.  The symposium follows a panel format through which experts present their perspectives, engage in dialogue with each other, and prompt general discussion with participants.

Event Details

The symposium will take place virtually over two days:

Tuesday, 3 May – Focus on Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3)

08:15-13:00 – New York
14:15-19:00 – Geneva
15:15-20:00 – Nairobi
19:15-12:00 – Bangkok

Wednesday, 4 May – Focus on Quality Education (SDG 4)

08:15-13:00 – New York
14:15-19:00 – Geneva
15:15-20:00 – Nairobi
19:15-12:00 – Bangkok

Programme

Tuesday, 3 May – Focus on Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3)

8:15-8:30am Sign In

8:30-8:40am Welcoming Remarks

Humphrey Tonkin (NGO Committee on Language and Languages/Study Group on Language and the United Nations)

Joel Gómez (Center for Applied Linguistics)

8:45-9:00am Featured Speaker

Multilingualism and the Verified Initiative

Maher Nasser (UN Department of Global Communications – UNDGC, Outreach Division)

9:00am-10:25am Panel

Multilingualism for Equitable Healthcare Access and Knowledge Development

Francis M. Hult, moderator

Susie Sykes (London South Bank University)

Thomas Abel (University of Bern)

Stacy C. Bailey (Northwestern University)

Panel Discussion

Open Questions and Dialogue

10:25-10:55am Break

11:00-11:15am Featured Speaker

Publishing for Sustainable Development: How and Why Springer Nature Supports the SDGs

Nicola Jones (Springer Nature, SDG Programme)

11:15-12:45pm Panel

COVID and The Challenges of Interpretation

Lisa McEntee Atalianis, moderator

Ning Ding (UN Department for General Assembly and Conference Management – UNDGACM, Interpretation Service)

Linda Fitchett (The International Association of Conference Interpreters)

Severine Hubscher-Davidson (The Open University)

Panel Discussion

Open Questions and Dialogue

12:45-1:00pm Featured Speaker

Language, Health, and Justice: Measuring the Challenge

Mark Fettes (Centre for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems/Esperantic Studies Foundation)

* * *

Wednesday, 4 May – Focus on Quality Education (SDG 4)

8:15-8:30am Sign In

8:30-8:40am Opening Remarks

Humphrey Tonkin (NGO Committee on Language and Languages/Study Group on Language and the United Nations)

Liberato Bautista (Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations)

8:45-9:00am Featured Speaker

Multilingual Educational Initiatives during COVID-19

Noro Andriamiseza Ingarao (United Nations, Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization – UNESCO, Education Sector)

9:00-10:30am Panel

Cross-national Responses to Multilingual Educational Challenges During COVID-19

Rosemary Salomone, moderator

Pille Poiklik (Ministry of Education and Research, Estonia)

Gisella Langé (Ministry of Education, Italy)

Paul Frank (SIL International)

Panel Discussion

Open Questions and Dialogue

10:25-10:55am: Break

11:00-11:15am Featured Speaker

An Assets-Based Approach for Multilingual Learners

Joel Gómez (Center for Applied Linguistics)

11:15am-12:45pm Panel

Situated Multilingual Educational Practices in Response to COVID-19

Carol Benson, moderator

Ayé Clarisse Hager-M’Boua (Université Alassane Ouattara)

Baoqi Sun (National Institute of Education, Singapore)

Panel Discussion

Open Questions and Dialogue

12:40-1:00pm Closing Panel

Lessons Learned and Looking Forward

Humphrey Tonkin, moderator

Carol Benson (Teachers College, Columbia University)

Francis M. Hult (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

Lisa McEntee-Atalianis (Birkbeck, University of London)

Rosemary Salomone (St. John’s University)

Symposium Sponsors

The symposium is held in cooperation with the NGO Committee on Language and Languages, a substantive committee of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO), and made possible by generous support and assistance from

Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)

Esperantic Studies Foundation (ESF)

Springer Nature

Centre for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems (CED)

Consortium for Language Policy and Planning (CLPP)

International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC)

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CoNGO Notes: This event is held the NGO Committee on Language and Languages, a substantive committee of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO). Learn more about this Committee and how you may collaborate with it by visiting substantive committees.

Venue

Virtual