Planning of online platform for language learning takes shape
A group of international experts gathers today in Shanghai, China, to discuss the feasibility of a Cyber Network for Learning Languages, an online portal to web resources for learning languages.
Opening the meeting this morning, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General, Abdul Waheed Khan, said that the initiative, which was launched by the Chinese Government during the meeting of UNESCO's Executive Board in October 2008, is "very timely indeed since it has the great potential to contribute to widen the access to the Internet and to promote its language diversity at the same time".
The experts look at the issues to be solved to establish a fully fledged online portal that would cater for services offering the possibility to contact language teachers or networks with language experts and researchers; to access automatic translation tools; to use online language proficiency standards; to find online resources on the thousands of language communities and their very diverse cultures - all this enriched with interactive community tools for the users.
Growing interactively, and used collaboratively, the platform could become the ultimate web resource to teach, learn and preserve endangered minority languages in cyberspace.
"Whatever services, structures and functionalities the platform may provide, we must not envision it as a static information repository but as a dynamic service that could become an essential part of the information infrastructure in the 21st century," said Mr Khan in Shanghai.
UNESCO has launched a variety of initiatives to support multilingualism in cyberspace and to promote wider and more equitable access to the web while preserving endangered languages.
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