Building peace in the minds of men and women

Enhancing language ability: outcomes of the International Conference on language

In a globalized and culturally diverse world, language ability has become increasingly important. It cements human societies, supports cultural vitality and makes socio-economic development possible. Language ability is also essential for cognitive development and as such allows the fulfilment of individual potential and broader learning.

Participants attending the International Conference on Language held in Suzhou, China, from 5 to 6 June agreed that good quality language education is the most effective means for enhancing language abilities.

After a day and a half of deliberations, the over 400 education officials, academics and educators from 90 countries attending the Conference further determined that quality language education needs well trained teachers, innovation and continued research, especially on the use of ICT for language teaching.

Furthermore, as instruction in the learner’s mother tongue is fundamental to improving educational outcomes, participants agreed that mother tongue-based education needs to continue at least through primary education.  The participants also considered that promoting exchange and learning among peoples, institutions and nations is another important means of enhancing language abilities. Through language immersion programmes and other similar international exchange programmes, the development of language abilities in a variety of languages can also foster mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence among peoples.

Finally, quality language education implies paying greater attention to the needs of all learners and in particular those who are visually and hearing impaired.

For more information on the final Conclusions of the International Conference on Language (pdf), organized by the People’s Republic of China in partnership with UNESCO, please go to the conference website

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