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International Languages Week

Learning languages is fun is message of International Languages Week

Learning languages is useful and practical, sure- but it is also a lot of fun. And that’s the message International Languages Week will be aiming to get across when it takes place throughout New Zealand from August 10-16.

The Week aims to get New Zealanders speaking more international languages, as a way of boosting communication and increasing New Zealand’s competitiveness as a trading nation. But it is also about having fun, says International Languages Week spokesperson Judith Geare.

„We want New Zealanders to see that learning to speak a second language is not just good for them personally and professionally, but that it will open up whole new worlds – including the chance of being an international rock star, who knows!“

Two exceedingly famous (and only slightly seedy) international talent scouts will be prowling Wellington’s Cuba Mall on Sunday 10 August, searching for Kiwi talent. They will be rewarding people who are willing to have a go at singing a few lines of a song in an international language with a variety of international prizes – not to mention the fame and glory!

In Auckland, people transitting through the new Britomart Transport Plaza each morning will be greeted by a team in a foreign language – if they can respond appropriately, they’ll win a prize.

In Christchurch, there will be a multi-cultural Festival in Victoria Square on Sunday 10 August, complete with music, dancing, food and zany entertainment.

„That’s in addition to a myriad of activities taking place in schools and communities thrioughout the country“, says Judith Geare. „We’ve been amazed and delighted at how people are getting behind the idea of the Week.“

International Languages Week focuses on the five main languages taught in New Zealand schools (Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish), but encourages all languages other than English. It is sponsored by a mixed group made up of the Association of Colleges of Education, the New Zealand Association of Language Teachers, embassies, cultural organisations and individuals who are passionate about languages.

„We’re far too monolingual in New Zealand“, says Ms Geare. „It’s time we put some energy and effort into changing that – by making languages part of the core curriculum in schools, training up more language teachers, and changing how we view languages. They are vitally important, and not just for travellers...our ability to communicate with the world will determine how well we do as a country in future“, says Judith Geare.

The following International Language Week activities take place in the three main centres: Friday 8 August - International Greetings team at Wellington Railway Station, 7.30 am – 9.00 am., and Wellington airport, 4 – 6 pm. Anyone who can greet us in a foreign language will win a prize.

Sunday 10 August - Festival and International karaoke in Cuba Mall, Wellington, 12.00 – 1.00 pm. Flags, noise, music and colour.

Sunday 10 August – International Languages Festival in Christchurch. Local raconteur Jim Hopkins will compere the Great International IQ Test. There will be prizes for those who take part, and those able to communicate something (anything!) in another language. International food, as well as international dance, music and theatre. Victoria Square Christchurch, 1pm– 3 pm.

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