German stand-up comedian celebrates languages at University Festival

German funny man Henning Wehn
19 Nov 2012 13:20:30.937
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He’s the self-styled German ambassador of comedy to the UK and he claims it’s not the easiest of jobs. But Henning Wehn will be offering his own wry view of language learning and cultural differences at a Festival of Languages at The University of Nottingham this week.

The two-day public event at the University’s Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) is part of the British Academy’s first ever Language Week to promote the learning and use of languages in schools, universities, policy making and public life.

The Festival is a programme of special events in London and Nottingham which follows recent public discussions on the topic and new government plans to boost language learning in the UK after a long decline in the teaching and learning of the major foreign languages in UK schools and higher education.
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Speaking in tongues

Professor Pat Thomson, Director of CAS, said : “We are delighted to be working with the British Academy on this programme. Languages and Cultural Studies are an important strength in The University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Arts and all our students, from all disciplines, should take advantage of their time at university to learn at least one language. The festival aims to flag the importance of languages for your future career and to highlight the shear enjoyment and cultural enrichment that languages can bring.”

The Festival starts on Wednesday 21 November at the University’s newly extended and refurbished Highfields House, the home of its arts and humanities research base — the Centre for Advanced Studies. The programme includes a workshop on innovations in language teaching and learning, screening of film entries to the University’s Foreign Film Making Competition and an exhibition on the history of German textbooks for English speakers from the past two centuries. The day concludes with a public lecture by Professor Jeremy Lawrance: ‘Languages and untranslatability’.

A United Europe

German funny man Henning Wehn is appearing at the Djanogly Recital Hall in the Department of Music on Thursday 22 November to share his hilarious ideas about cultural differences and language. In anticipation of his visit, Henning said: “We need a United Europe. And it must speak with one voice. German.”

A workshop on the value of language skills to prospective employers led by Helen Emmett, Section Head at Experian, is also taking place on Thursday.

The Festival ends with a public lecture by Professor Emeritus Elizabeth Boa called ‘Languages: speeding towards the future and remembering the past’. Professor Boa will reflect on the intrinsic interest of language that learning a second or more languages helps to highlight, and on the access to other cultures that language learning brings. Using her own experiences as a Germanist teaching a European language during the Cold War and period of German unification, Professor Boa will explore the significance given to different languages in different political and economic contexts including globalisation and the rise of the new economies of the BRIC countries.

More details and registration for all the events are available here:,-in-partnership-with-the-british-academy.aspx
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has 40,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘the world’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking 2011.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news


Story credits

More information is available from Sally Bowden, Research Development Manager, Centre for Advanced Studies in the Arts and Social Sciences, on +44 (0)115 951 4593,

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