News from Oct 21, 2014
Conference on the Occasion of the SSEES (School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London) Centenary, 17-18 September 2015
The significance of the title ‘The Politics of Teaching and Learning Languages’ is twofold: first, it alludes to politics and foreign languages in education, and second, to the politics of teaching and learning languages.
The first of these approaches focuses on political and historical developments that influence tendencies, and shape policy, in the area of foreign language learning and education. The second approach centres on the ideologically-governed attitudes that underlie language professionals’, teachers’, and textbook writers’ decisions when choosing a particular variety of a language, a particular methodological approach and resources in their teaching, writing, and syllabus-design practice.
The conference intends toaddress the historical perspectives and current key narratives surrounding the teaching of languages, linguistics, and area studies. Its aim is to explore language education in the context of an ever changing and dynamic societal, political, and cultural landscape globally, and in the UK-context.
Papers will be 20 minutes in length with 10 minutes for questions. Posters will be showcased during the second day of the conference and presented (max. 5 minutes) in one of UCL’s public areas.
The conference programme includes key-note addresses by Nicholas Ostler, Foundation for Endangered Languages; Anne Pauwels, School of Oriental and African Studies; Nigel Vincent, FBA, University of Manchester.
We are planning to publish selected papers in a Conference Proceedings volume.
Rationale and Suggested Themes
The first theme of the conference – politics and language teaching – addresses the political and institutional factors that underpin the promotion, in education and beyond, of a certain language, languages, or a particular language variety in a community at various points in time. Papers are invited to explore these questions in three different contexts: at global (e.g. linguae francae and world languages), national (e.g. national curricula, planning, and foreign language education strategies), and local institutional (e.g. schools, universities) levels. The conference will also explore how the increased interest in a particular language or language variety affects the teaching and learning of other languages, primarily, but not exclusively, through the history of teaching and learning less-widely used languages (e.g. the languages of Central and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, minority languages of Russia and South-East Asia, etc.) in the UK context.
The second theme of the conference – the politics of teaching and learning languages – addresses the above themes in the context of language professionals’ primary concerns, which centre on language, method, and teaching technique. We welcome proposals with an approach that taps into a further dimension of the political: at the level of classroom practices and of the individual. In this regard, the conference seeks to explore the role of teachers and students as cultural mediators between the source and the target language-and-culture. It will investigate the dilemmas that the individual (teacher, learner, textbook writer, etc.) faces as a result of the mismatches between political agendas and ideological commitments in the communities associated with the source and the target languages-and-culture.
Possible questions include, but are not limited to, the following:
Theme one: Global, National, Institutional Politics and Language Teaching
Theme two: The Politics of Teaching and Learning Languages