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Episode 17: Debora Kayembe for World Refugee Day Much Language Such Talk

Today’s episode is dedicated this episode to World Refugee Day on June 20th, and we have a very special guest for you, Debora Kayembe. Debora grew up in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She earned her law degree in Kinshasa and began her career as a human rights activist. After interning at the UN, she was called to the Congolese Bar Association in Matadi and became a lawyer with a specialty in international law in 2000. She arrived in the UK as a refugee in 2005 and lived near Manchester. However, her law degree was only recognized in Scotland, which is why she moved to Edinburgh in 2011 with her two young children, and qualified as a barrister. In addition to her work as a human rights lawyer, she also has extensive experience in working as a translator for Refugees at the National Health Service in Scotland. She also set up her own language services company in 2009 with an international client base in the US and the UK. In 2012, she joined the Scottish Refugee Council, where she served as a board member. That same year, she was added to the list of assistants to counsel for the victim support section of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). In 2016, she joined the language service of the office of the Procecutor as well.  Shortly after, she became the first African woman to join the Royal Society of Edinburgh, where she holds a seat on the Working Group for Africa. In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, Debora created the Freedom Walk Campaign, which aims to lobby, campaign on behalf of citizens by promoting social reforms, racial justice and community harmony. In February 2021, Debora became the third woman, first black woman, and the first African immigrant to be named rector of the University of Edinburgh. She speaks French, Lingala, Kikongo, Swahili, English, Luba, Portuguese and is learning Turkish at the moment. Go to our website to read the transcript! MLST  is brought to you by volunteers at Bilingualism Matters    Edinburgh. The  views of our guests don’t always reflect our own, as  we   hope to provide  an accessible platform for the findings of current    research and the  perspectives of experts. For more resources like    definitions of  linguistic terms, episode transcripts, and information    about the team,  go to our website at http://www.mlstpodcast.com. Recorded on 3/5/2021 Music: Arc of the Sun by The 126ersssssss

Read the transcript here!



A language podcast answering your questions about language, learning, and culture.

At Much Language Such Talk (MLST), we talk about bi- and multilingualism and what it means to speak more than one language. We explore the benefits, the advantages, the struggles of bilingualism, what it entails, and what it means in the daily life of people who speak, know, and study more than one language.

We address topics such as language change, how we learn languages at different ages, bilingualism and language disorders, language identity and culture, minority languages, language policies, language education – you name it!

For each episode, we will speak to bi/multilinguals, parents or teachers, and researchers or experts in their respective field, to learn more about language learning and all the fun being bi/multilingual brings!

We are always open for suggestions of people to talk to and topics to talk about, so let us know if you have an idea for a topic, or topics, you would like to learn more about, or any issues you would like us to raise.

MLST is brought to listeners like you by the amazing volunteers at Bilingualism Matters Edinburgh. The views of our guests don’t always reflect our own, but we hope to provide a platform for the findings of current research and the perspectives of experts to be accessible to everyone. For more resources like definitions of linguistic terms, episode transcripts, and information about the team, you can find these on the Episodes, Glossary, and About pages.

Bilingualism Matters

Bilingualism Matters is a research and information centre at the University of Edinburgh, founded by Prof. Antonella Sorace in 2008. We study bilingualism and language learning, and communicate what we know to enable people to make informed decisions based on scientific evidence. We have partner branches run by international teams of researchers in many countries around the world. We think that everyone can enjoy the benefits of having more than one language.

We believe that real change happens through dialogue between researchers and the community. We work in partnership with parents, teachers, health professionals, policy makers and employers to help create impact in people’s daily lives. There are now branches of Bilingualism Matters all over the world – check out our list of branches to find one near you.

Research has shown that bilingualism is beneficial for children’s development and their future. Children exposed to different languages become more aware of different cultures, other people and other points of view. But they also tend to be better than monolinguals at ‘multitasking’ and focusing attention. They are often more precocious readers, and generally find it easier to learn other languages. Bilingualism gives children much more than two languages!

More recent research also suggests that learning another language may have benefits in later life, delaying the onset of dementia symptoms, and slowing cognitive aging. The good news is that these benefits seem to exist even when people learn a second language later in life. So it is never too late 

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