our words make worlds

2017/18 Debate 1: Language Education Activism

4th October 2017, Language Resource Centre (Room K-1.072, first basement), King's College London, Strand

Introduction by Professor Debra Kelly, Language Acts and Worldmaking, Strand Co-Lead Language Transitions
Chair: Dr Cristina Ros i Solé

This theme debates whether current policies in Modern Language Education are fit for purpose. We start from the premise that we need a radical new and coherent scope for the field that not only reflects current social and demographic changes, but that also aspires to exert influence and bring about change in society. Languages are not merely an advantage for ‘business overseas’, ‘employment’, or for other instrumental purposes such as travelling or ‘understanding another culture’, but are also a fundamental intellectual endeavour that fosters the cultivation of the self and the promotion of a more responsible and solidary society. ‘Foreign’ languages are an essential element in a super-diverse and multilingual world where new cultural roles, stances and responsibilities are needed. Beyond the role of the intercultural brokers and mediators, there is the need to seek new goals for the language learner and for the language educator. This debate discusses alternative directions for Language Education by posing the following three key questions:

  • Do Modern Languages programmes allow students to go beyond the ‘fluent fools’ syndrome and allow language learners to reflect and connect with themselves, their cultures and their surroundings?
  • How can we re-purpose language teaching to bring about such change?
  • How would these issues impact on the different educational sectors? 

Guest speakers: Prof. Alison Phipps (University of Glasgow); Prof. Janice Carruthers (Belfast, AHRC fellow); Prof. Anne Pauwels (SOAS, University of London).

Discussants: Dr Jelena Calic (SEESS, University of London), Dr Jim Anderson (Goldsmiths College), Isabel Simoes-Rodrigues (King's College London) & Dr Tita Beaven (Open University).

View the programme for this event here

Debate Papers

Read the papers from the debate here:

Prof. Alison Phipps

Prof. Janice Carruthers

Prof. Anne Pauwels

Dr Jim Anderson

Dr Tita Beaven