An Essential Discourse on Language

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As the anniversary of the Restoration of Lithuanian Independence approaches on March 11, Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas has turned its attention to the effects of Lithuanian migration patterns during the past 30 years. Dr. Ingrida Dačiolienė, event coordinator of the Lithuanian World University notes that it is essential to evaluate those patterns and consider Lithuania’s relationship with its diaspora. Her question is – can we expect immigrants to come back, and what is the role of retaining Lithuanian identity?

On March 12, a discussion on this topic will take place in a Zoom forum from 2:30 pm until 7 pm (local time in Lithuania) and will be live-streamed on the VMU Youtube page (http://inx.lv/co6B), Facebook page (http://inx.lv/co6Y), the World Lithuanian University’s Facebook page (http://inx.lv/co6x) and the Lithuanian Education in the Diaspora Facebook page (http://inx.lv/co6P).

Judging by reports from Lithuanian language school teachers and other educators in the diaspora, it is becoming obvious that children in the diaspora are on the brink of losing their ethnic identity. Being embarrassed to speak Lithuanian, deciding to speak the local language with children at home and neglecting to teach children about their cultural heritage has become commonplace, and requires a review of priorities, of the essence of being Lithuanian, and the enhancement of Lithuanian teaching in the diaspora, said I. Dačiolienė.

For this purpose, Vytautas Magnus University is organizing this first virtual forum (http://inx.lv/co6O), on March 12 together with the Lithuanian Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, the Foreign Ministry, the Education Commission of the World Lithuanian Community, Member of Parliament Dalia Asanavičiūtė and the Lithuanian Embassy in Ireland.

With nearly a third of Lithuania’s population living abroad, deputy foreign minister Egidijus Meilūnas hopes that the discussion may strengthen the relationship between the country and its diaspora, and make Lithuanian language learning a higher priority for support from the government, and for parents in the diaspora. According to MP Asanavičiūtė, there are about 150,000 pre-school and school-aged children in the diaspora, only 5 to 6% of whom are learning Lithuanian systematically.

The virtual forum on March 12 will address the challenges of Lithuanian identity retention in mixed families, bilingualism and language teaching. The forum agenda is available on the VMU World Lithuanian University website (http://inx.lv/co6O). Anyone interested in joining and asking questions is invited to register by March 11 at http://inx.lv/coiz. Registration is limited.

Information from alkas.lt