Here at Heriot-Watt University’s School of Social Sciences, we are very proud of our annual Multilingual debate, which showcases the interpreting skills of the undergraduate students from the Department for Languages and Intercultural Studies on our Languages (Interpreting and Translating) degree programme. The debate sees a motion of topical interest being argued for and against in front of an audience of secondary school pupils as well as government and local authority guests, and simultaneously translated into various native languages (French, German, Spanish, English, Arabic, Chinese and British Sign Language (BSL)).
Now the innovative debate has been recognised by The Chartered Institute of Linguists with a special commendation for the prestigious Threlford Memorial Cup, created to mark the memory of COIL’s founder, Sir Lacon Threlford. This award has been described as "the world's greatest trophy for fostering the study of languages", and the LINCS annual Multilingual Debate was shortlisted, alongside the MFL Student Mentoring Programme set up by Welsh universities in co-operation with the Welsh Government.
Fanny Chouc, who co-ordinates the debate, received the award on behalf of the MLD organisation committee. She said: “I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in the MLD in many capacities, as chair, speaker and now co-ordinator of the team, and it’s a real honour to accept this recognition on behalf of the exceptional and dedicated group of Heriot-Watt staff who make this event possible every year. A huge amount of effort goes into the planning and running of the event, and we are fortunate to have many talented people on board, who’ve helped make the MLD an unmissable annual event celebrating multilingual communication.”
The event was designed to inspire young people, making them aware of one of the many exciting career paths available to expertly trained linguists, and it also provides LINCS graduating students with a valuable near-professional experience. A huge team effort goes into making sure that the event is accessible, and reaches the widest audience possible.
Vicky Bannerman, Education Liaison Officer at Heriot-Watt University, commented: “It is a pleasure to work with colleagues from LINCS on the Multilingual Debate each year, seeing so many school pupils experience the buzz of simultaneous interpreting live and leave feeling inspired and full of enthusiasm for the study of languages is really fantastic. It is also lovely to see our former students who are now teachers bringing their pupils on to Campus to experience the thrill of the debate.”
The debate can be viewed live online, and e-participants can tune into the floor, interpreting booths or BSL feed, to follow the discussions, thus experiencing first-hand the benefits and significance of language expertise in multilingual exchanges, but also discovering the high level of technology involved in facilitating international communications.
Siobhan McKiernan, who is one of the school's Recruitment, Admissions and Marketing Administrators, worked on last year’s Multilingual Debate. She said: “From a communications point of view, the event is a great opportunity to speak with pupils, students and staff and we post their ideas, thoughts and feelings on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter live. This year we held a Twitter Live at the beginning and for 2018 we will do a combined Facebook live too. It’s the perfect platform for potential students to experience what it’s like to be at university studying languages and interpretation and what their future could hold!”
The topics for #MLD2018 were launched just before Christmas in a variety of the languages represented throughout the debate. This year’s debate will examine the threat of social media, and the timeframe for replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. To find out more about the coming #MLD2018 visit the MLD event page and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates in the run up to the event.