our words make worlds


The project. Language Acts and Worldmaking

The Language Acts and Worldmaking team has been working together since June 2016. Our guiding principle is that language holds the key to how we understand and construct the world and ourselves. This we call worldmaking. This principle has governed our commitment to connecting teaching and research in our determination to contribute to regenerating and transforming Modern Languages. So far, we have worked with several hundred co-researchers and practitioners from a wide range of educational, social and cultural organisations. In our 2020 conference we want to consolidate and strengthen these communities who share the aim of making language-learning inclusive, socially engaged and international in scope. 

Our first conference, Languages Memory, held in June 2018, centred on the fractured history of language policy in the UK, and the need to remember and understand how languages are experienced, practised, taught and researched. In 2019, our four-month Worldmaking Fair Languages Now, showcased our collaborations with partners and broadened our research community. A centrepiece, Worldmaking Live, celebrated the work of our Small Grants awardees, which spans the globe. It was a wonderful living example of how we can work together to increase engagement and creative solution-finding to problems, create links between people and organisations that were not there before and value and enable diversity in a time of increasing conformity.

The conference. Languages Future

In 2020, Languages Future will consolidate our research by considering as a community how our work in languages and worldmaking should intervene in the major debates of our time. A key question will be about capacity-building for future language learners, researchers and activists. Languages Future is a call for action. How do we boldly communicate the impact of the work languages do in the world?

Proposals and themes

We are looking for all sorts of responses to the themes of the conference. Your idea could be, for example, an individual presentation, an academic panel of papers, an interactive workshop, a lecture, open discussion, posters, a debate, a provocation.

Propose ideas for engaging with Languages Future and we will build our conference around your responses. Here are some key themes and areas for debate, and we are open to other ideas which respond to these themes.

Changing the conversation 

  • For schools, university students, youth and community groups, we ask you to propose presentations and interventions around the question: ‘How will the study of languages make the world a better place?’

Ways of Worldmaking

  • Fiction (science, fantasy, utopian, dystopian) and the imagination of new linguistic worlds
  • Nationalism and languages
  • Science and languages
  • Storytelling
  • Translanguaging

Language Actions

  • Activism
  • Changing attitudes to language-learning
  • Connecting communities
  • Framing policy
  • Innovative pedagogy
  • Setting agendas

New Horizons

  • Digital culture and technology
  • Ecology
  • Internationalism, transnationalism and the future of languages
  • Language, gender and sexuality
  • Translation and new media

Get in touch

You may have an idea and wonder if it is relevant: contact us, we want to have conversations with you so that we can develop an exciting and inclusive experience. Please write in the first instance to languageacts@kcl.ac.uk and we will put you in contact with members of the project to discuss your idea.

Deadline for proposals

Proposals should be sent to us on the attached form by Friday 20 December 2019. They should be sent to languageacts@kcl.ac.uk. To download a copy of the CfP as a pdf click here.

We will reply by 31 January 2020 and we aim to have a final conference programme by 28 February. We can contribute to the cost of speakers' travel and accommodation.

We look forward to hearing from you.

The Language Acts and Worldmaking Team