Languages at Times of Crisis seeks to explore and expose languages at work in our society today by engaging with and learning from people who use language to carry out their work in a variety of situations. In many cases, this language work is unrecognised and these people are not acknowledged as language practitioners. By creating forums in which their work and its diversity is recognised, Languages at Times of Crisis seeks to gain an insight into the significance of language skills to these people. As we work to understand the difference that languages can make at a time of crisis, we simultaneously work to challenge the often quoted idea that modern languages are in a state of crisis. For this project, our interpretation of crisis is a broad one which encompasses situations of change, conflict, disorder, disruption and anxiety at personal, national and international levels.
Languages at Times of Crisis links to the core aims of the Language Acts and Worldmaking project by exploring, demonstrating, and engaging with languages at work in the world, beyond the context of the university. One aspect of our work involves probing and perhaps even challenging the notion of ‘modern languages’; a title often used to refer to university departments and faculties, as well as the discipline. This means that we have to interrogate and understand what we, as practitioners, teachers, researchers, understand as the scope of modern languages today.