Black lives matter: what can we do in the language learning community?

11th June 2020

Joy of Languages probably isn’t an ideal platform to talk politics, but this isn’t about politics. It’s about people. In the United States, the UK and globally.

Joy of Languages probably isn’t an ideal platform to talk politics, but this isn’t about politics.

It’s about people. In the United States, the UK and globally.

I’m struggling to find the right words, so I’ll borrow Banksy’s instead:

At first I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue.

But why would I do that? It’s not their problem, it’s mine.

People of colour are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs [...] it’s not their job to fix it.

I don’t have answers, but I do know that we all need to take part in the repair work.

It's not possible to be neutral or “stay out of it” by staying silent.

Silence allowed the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many before them. It endorses the systemic racism and quiet discrimination that black people live with each day. 

I stand with black lives matter.

As a community I hope we can stand together, support each other, learn and most importantly, do something. In this video from elementary chinese, Kwadwo shares his experiences and has suggestions about how to stop getting sucked into the internet loop and contribute to positive change.

If you’re white and want to participate, but you’re not sure what to say or how to act, you might find this post from Mavenelle useful. This online guide to allyship has more advice.

Another thing we can do in this space is share the work of black creators who are doing cool stuff in the online language learning community. Not just now, but always.

One person who immediately springs to mind is Shahidah, founder of Black Girls Learn Languages, who has created an incredible community and shares content to support and inspire black women to learn languages. Here’s a link to her online store.

Check out this motivating chat about learning languages as an adult and bringing up multilingual kids with Tiara from Chocolate Sushi Roll.

Last week, multilingualmarissa, Lindsay does Languages and Fluent Language shared posts to celebrate black teachers, learners and language experts. Here are a few great projects to get you started:

Nicole the linguaphile

iye loves languages

Elementary Chinese


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A bụ m nne. 😍 (The secret is finally out. 🤣). . . Well, things are gonna be a bit different around these IG parts. (Note: Foto a dị ochie. 🤰🏿 A mụrụ m nwa! My son is already here. 👶🏽) . . So not only am I teaching myself Igbo language, aga m akụzịrị nwa m nwoke asụsụ Igbo. 🤱🏾 Now, I will be sharing my Igbo language learning journey of how I balance working full-time, a business, marriage, and motherhood while teaching myself and baby Igbo. So keep following me if this interests you! 💪🏿 . . So let's start this Mother's Day off right. I wrote nwa m (my baby) a little love note in Igbo of course. ✍🏿 I can't wait until he is old enough to read it. Go to ▶️ or CLICK the link in my bio to read it! How did I do? Ị ghọtara ihe m dere? *Corrections are welcomed.* . . Are you an Igbo mother? Any tips for me on teaching this boy Igbo? ✍🏿✍🏿✍🏿 . . I can finally use these hashtags 🤣🤣🤣 #nigerianmommy #nigerianmommyblog #nigerianmother #igbomom #igboymoms #igbobabies #nwaoma #africanmother #africanmommy

A post shared by Ife - Igbo Language Learner (@ezinaulo.igbo) on

Nikki Dennis

Keep sharing in the comments. I’d love for you to add your own too.

Sending you love,



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