The Linguist

The Linguist 61-Winter2022

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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36 The Linguist Vol/61 No/5 INSTITUTE MATTERS high culture, popular culture, material culture and digital culture; and the customs and practices of everyday life. • Are able to understand, mediate, analyse and compare ideas and events that cross national, cultural or linguistic boundaries, such as current and historical relationships between countries. • Are able to address questions and problems comparatively across languages, cultures and societies, transnationally and/or with awareness of regional and/or minoritised languages, cultures and societies. • Are likely to possess the intercultural skills and language proficiency to facilitate their international mobility, especially where their degree has included a period of international placement. I think this articulation is a real positive for the self-confidence, employability and lifetime value of languages to graduates – especially those who go on to become practising linguists. At the same time, though, it was important to secure the recognition in the SBS that language graduates should have a high standard of proficiency in the The UK's Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) works with universities, colleges and regulatory bodies across the UK to maintain and enhance quality and standards in higher education. It also works internationally on behalf of the wider UK higher education sector, and now welcomes international members as well as those from the UK. An important area of work for the QAA is to maintain and update Subject Benchmark Statements, which describe the nature of study and the academic standards expected of graduates in specific subject areas. These are useful not just for universities and students, but also for employers, as they show what graduates in a given subject might reasonably be expected to know, do and understand at the end of their studies. For all of these reasons, when the QAA approached CIOL to contribute to the review of the Subject Benchmark Statement (SBS) for undergraduate language degrees, we were delighted to do so. A real positive, I think, has been a reframing of the statement to become the SBS for Languages, Cultures and Societies (LCS). This represents a shift towards an appreciation of the wider skills which language graduates develop as well as the all-important communicative competence in other languages. Some of the competences which have been drawn out in the consultation draft include that language graduates: • Have an open mindset and are able to see the world through the eyes of others, enabling them to understand and value multiple perspectives. • Are aware of the broader context in which communication takes places, are sensitive to language variation and its meanings, and are able to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity in communication. • Are able to appreciate and analyse a wide diversity of cultural forms and practices, including manifestations of local, regional, community and national cultures; forms of Languages, cultures and societies Taking a fresh look at undergraduate language degrees, John Worne describes some the highlights of the new benchmark statement which is out for consultation language(s) studied, with strong productive, receptive and mediating skills, both in speaking and in writing, making them confident and sophisticated communicators in the language(s) studied. Although the cultural and social value of languages is important to highlight, high levels of communicative skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking in one or more other languages are also a significant asset for graduates. And employers want this reassurance too, as we stressed with colleagues from government on the review group. It's great to see a balance of all these elements in the draft SBS for Languages, Cultures and Societies. Although the QAA's work isn't generally headline news, this more confident statement of the many skills graduate linguists bring to the table can, I think, help us to continue to promote language degrees as a wonderful foundation for life and work, both in the UK and internationally. For more see code/subject-benchmark-statements PHOTOS BY ARIES LEE (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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