Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

What is language justice?

What is being done to break down barriers and create multilingual communities?

Today we have Jamila Ball, from Jamii Linguists, on our show to tell you how you can get involved with the language justice movement.

We have been doing a series about some of the wonderful speakers at the Women In Language Conference, and we are lucky to have Jamila on as our next featured speaker.

She brings with her a lot of experience within the linguistics community, and a very strong focus on language justice—she’s going to help us to understand this.

One example is in looking at how movements are so important, and how the messages should be available in multiple languages.

It’s important that things be translated and that there is a universal language, and this doesn’t hold anybody back from being a part of things.

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Looking At The Key Issues

So let’s start by looking at the very important concept of language justice, because that’s a main focus in all of this.

Language justice has multiple definitions, but it ultimately means creating multilingual spaces where there isn’t just one language spoken.

It is all about forming a community that allows everyone to speak and have joy, and so it takes out the dominance to only one language.

Rather than having members of that community have to try to adhere to that one language, it is instead inclusive and allows everyone to feel a part of it.

This is important in approach, in the idea of inclusiveness, and in creating a true community that everyone can feel comfortable being an active part of.

Language ties to culture and political construct, which may be based in trauma or even privilege.

It may also be an emotional connector, and so it’s important to remember that.

This may be a very emotional thing, and it can be a positive experience if you are mindful of the way in which you approach this.

It helps to unite people from so many different backgrounds, who speak so many different languages, and yet all have the desire to be a part of a community like this.

A multilingual community needs this language justice to exist, and so you see just how important this all is.

This isn’t just about giving information, but creating a space where all feel free participating.

The concept of language justice is crucial to creating multilingual cohesiveness, and that’s when a community such as this can form.

How Do You Create This?

This sounds like a rather large task, so how do you create it?

What is being done to create this type of space?

There are many examples of how this is being accomplished, so that you can see how this works.

One example is having translators in court to help everyone during a hearing with whatever language they need to hear and speak.

There is a lot being done about access laws, and this is a perfect example of that.

If you are in court for a hearing, you need to be able to understand and speak in your language.

There are so many different areas of life where translation and interpreting are needed, and that’s where opportunity exists.

In school this may look like bilingual education, and even IEP’s for students who have special needs and plans to accommodate that.

It is important that the meetings be held in different languages so that everyone understands and can be on the same page.

In movements, this is about having translators or interpreters available during a protest for example.

Captions on social media posts to help people understand them in a variety of language is another example.

There are so many different areas of a movement that need this to be effective and inclusive.

So look at how this works in each area of your daily life, and it may help you to focus accordingly.

How Did We Get Here?

The idea of language justice isn’t a new one, but it does make you wonder how we got here.

How did we get to a point of thinking through the needs of a multilingual community, and working to make it a reality.

Take the example of Jamii Linguists which exists because Jamila has a background in so many different things and was part of many movements.

She saw that there was a need here, and she wanted to be able to help multiple people to feel included.

Everything that she did was more valuable because she was able to communicate it in so many different languages.

She is linguistically skilled, which is important and unique.

She is one example of somebody who used her experience and background to help work towards a multilingual community that is based on inclusiveness.

Organizing is about people, and the more people you want to talk to, the more languages you need to know so that you can communicate effectively.

You can’t do all the things and be all the places, but she can help people to do so.

So the ideas were already there, and people like Jamila have helped to create this community and work towards making people feel comfortable and a part of things.

Three Tips To Getting To That Multilingual Community

If you want to create and be a part of that multilingual community, there are a few things to keep in mind.

If you follow these tips, you can work towards creating that multilingual community building in your own life.

1. Normalize language learning: We are not all walking around with translators and interpreters, so we need human to human interactions. If you are a multilingual or bilingual individual, then be sure to share your skills and connect with others. Show that you are not perfect! If people see somebody communicating in another language, it is assumed that no mistakes are made and this isn’t true. Be okay with making mistakes in public because that normalizes it. There are a lot of different ways to learn a language, so find the best way that works for you personally. Just the ability to have that brief connection with somebody in their language is huge!

2. Put your money where your value is: You have to budget for these things, such as translators and interpreters as well as outreach. People don’t put the time or money into this, and that’s a problem. You have to plan around it to ensure that it’s a reality. You will need money and time to make this work, so just be sure that you recognize this as a priority. If you plan for it and work towards it, then it will happen.

3. Remember that it’s about people: It’s about authentic connections, and that’s an important thing to remember. We have a tendency to get very transactional and go through the motions, and this takes something out of it. You have to care about people and show how to interact with them in the right way. You have to give people equal access to the things that you do, and find ways to make this a reality. There are things that can be done, and you must take the time to do them.

These three tips will help you to build and be a part of a multilingual community, and this will help so many people in the process.

Moving Forward In This Movement

You may want to think about how you move forward into the future.

If you are interested in supporting and helping within this space then focus on #translatethemovement .

There is always a need for volunteers that can help in anyway.

If you want to bridge the gap, then be part of helping to create this type of community that fosters inclusiveness.

Don’t take your rights for granted, and instead find ways to help others to be a part of things.

Jamii Linguists is always looking for translators or volunteers in any capacity as an example of this.

Many organizations in this area are looking for support, and there is always a need for language help.

They are often looking for professionals and who have skills, but there are spaces for those who just want to help find a place in all of this.

You can find Jamila at Jamii_linguists on Instagram, Facebook, or on her website .


The idea of language justice isn’t new, but it’s a very important fundamental concept.

If you want to be part of a community that focuses on multilingual inclusion, then be a part of creating that.

The tips are good for you to be a part of such a community, and may help you in your everyday life too.

This is a very important concept right now, and it can feel great to be part of a community that helps everyone to feel included in a significant way.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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