our words make worlds

Language Transitions Research

At the heart of all our research in Language Acts and Worldmaking is the understanding of our practice as embodied experience, made explicit in the role of the teacher and of the student of Modern Languages–hence one of the possible meanings of the strapline chosen for the Language Transitions strand ‘Moving through Languages’.

This is a strand which takes a research-informed approach to the practical aspects of learning and teaching modern languages co-led by Debra Kelly, Professor of French and Francophone Studies, University of Westminster and Dr Ana de Medeiros, Director of the Language Centre King’s University of London. Our joint leadership says a great deal about how we view the collaborative nature of the whole Language Acts and Worldmaking project, not only bringing together two of our lead institutions, but also working directly with other partners such as Routes into Languages and the Network for Languages London with their established experience of working between HE, FE and schools. The focus of Language Transitions, are what we call those ‘border zones of learning’ between stages that often become more of an hindrance than a stepping stone for so many language learners, whatever their level. This work also seeks to empower young students to use their innate language learning skills, including the mobilisation and valorisation of their bi- and multi-lingual home experiences in environments when this is so often not the case.

It’s important to note the origins of this strand which grew organically as we continued to think, talk and act after the conception of Language Acts and Worldmaking. The approach we’re developing is therefore, quite naturally, in constant communication with the research of all of the five other strands of our programme. All of our work will inform our proposals for curriculum change, creating new models of engagement–notably working with the idea of students and our other collaborators as co-creators–new materials, new forms of communication and dissemination with the ultimate aim of courses co-taught across all participating institutions. We will therefore work on the curriculum at university level and with the curriculum at school level, trialling ways of working with transition at each further level of languages study.

Throughout Language Acts and Worldmaking we stress the materiality of language, and Language Transition’s ‘moving through languages’ encompasses not only the way we think ‘through’ a language, but ‘in’ it and are shaped by it. This is a strand necessarily working with a number of institutions, in the multiple senses of the word, and we will often challenge institutional ideas around languages and their practice. This we do not only in debate and with research-based evidence, but with curiosity, playfulness and creativity that opens up possibilities for moving through languages.