28 May is International Simplified Language Day!
When we talk about translanguaging, we are thinking about ways to make communication easier for all participants. As a teacher, you are encouraged to prepare materials with different levels of text difficulty to allow students with less advanced language skills to participate in the lesson and to read and write in simplified language. Additionally you use a lot of images and easy schemes to make sure your message was delivered to every student.
Two years ago, the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz/Germersheim in Germany organised the first International Easy Language Day Conference (IELD ) to celebrate the International Day of Simplified Languages. It was officially declared on 28 May 2020, based on the date when the founding documents of the organisation Inclusion Europe were signed in 1988. By signing this document, the organisation declares its support for "equal rights and full inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and their families in all aspects of society". The organisation has members all over Europe, and researchers, practitioners and members of the target group consider accessibility and comprehensiveness of information as central to inclusion. The meeting on Easy Language was only organised once, but Inclusion Europe is very active and manages to bring together professionals and interested people once a year to discuss different topics.
On the website of Inclusion Europe you can find a dictionary that explains the meaning of some words in easy to read sentences using simplified language. There are also some standards for making information easy to read and understand. Simplified language can be used not only by people with intellectual disabilities, but also by people who have just started to learn a language or who have difficulty reading. And to be honest, a lot of people can benefit from using some standards for their presentation and when talking to people who are unfamiliar with the subject using a special language. Check out ChatGPT's suggestions on how to facilitate a bilingual meeting, summarised in one of our previous posts, and you will see the suggestion to simplify the language to maximise the understanding of your message.
So let's celebrate and master the art of explaining difficult things in simple terms!