Language Policy Forum 2018

Language policy in the age of diversity:

Dilemmas and hopes

31 May — 1 June 2018, Sheffield Hallam University, UK

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We have a number of books donated by our sponsors to give away! Please enter the e-raffle here: Entries will close Monday 11 June 12:00 UK time!

Feedback survey (for after the conference)

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Click here for the online version of the programme.

Click here to download a printable PDF including a custom-made map of important locations! (Hard copies will be given out at the conference.)

Click here for the abstracts.

Map with walking directions

Point A: Sheffield train station. Point B: university main entrance (for all rooms). Point C: Piccolino, conference dinner restaurant. Point D: Head of Steam, recommended pub.

All conference rooms are clearly signposted from the university main entrance (Point B).

Click here to open the map in a new window.


The conference will feature British Sign Language interpreters. We are extremely grateful to the Humanities Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University for making this possible.

All presenting rooms will be on the same floor as the university main entrance (floor 5). The conference is split between the Peak lecture theatre in the Owen building, and two adjacent rooms in the Norfolk building; these are approximately 100 metres apart, and will be clearly signposted from the main entrance onward. The canteen is one floor up; a group of four lifts goes between the two. Disabled toilets are available immediately outside all rooms and the canteen.

A phone signal is available on most networks throughout the campus. There is also campus-wide eduroam (works with any university login), and a guest wifi signal (login details will be given during the conference).

If you have other accessibility needs, please also email to discuss.

Plenary speakers

Prof. Marilyn Martin-Jones, Emeritus Professor, MOSAIC Centre for Research on Multilingualism, University of Birmingham, UK

Addressing dilemmas and creating hope: Towards a critical, collaborative approach to language policy

This talk will begin with a genealogical account of the ways in which the study of language policy has been re-imagined over the last two decades by focusing attention on the ebb and flow of talk and interaction in multilingual classrooms, homes and workplaces. Researchers contributing to this broad movement have combined detailed description and analysis of language and literacy practices with ethnography. They have provided fine-grained insights into the ways in which students, teachers, family members and work colleagues, in diverse multilingual settings, interpret, respond to and take a particular stance on language policies. They have also illuminated the ways in which policy ‘on paper’ gets translated into particular kinds of communicative practices in the daily rounds of life in classrooms, homes or workplaces.

Contributions to this epistemological shift in the study of language policy have been forged within diverse strands of research in sociolinguistics and ethnography, including the ethnography of communication, interactional sociolinguistics, micro-ethnography, critical sociolinguistic ethnography, ethnography of language policy and linguistic ethnography. Moreover, different conceptual compasses and analytic lenses have guided the empirical work in different social and cultural settings. These include concepts such as codeswitching, crossing, (trans)languaging and transidiomatic practices. Through this research, we have come to ‘see’ language policy in a new way: not as fixed texts and prescriptions for action, but as complex, situated and multi-layered processes, involving diverse social actors.

Having taken stock of the broad conceptual and empirical terrain we have traversed over the last two decades, I will then sketch out what I see as the journey ahead, towards creating conditions for close collaboration between researchers and practitioners, in different local settings, to jointly identify “preferred futures” (Pennycook, 2001: 8). I will also argue that research of a linguistic ethnographic and linguistic anthropological nature is particularly well suited to this kind of researcher/practitioner collaboration, especially when it involves extended dialogue and reflexive co-construction of knowledge.

Pennycook, A. (2001) Critical Applied Linguistics. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum

Prof. Anthony J. Liddicoat, Centre for Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick

Constraints on agency in micro-language policy and planning in schools: A case study of curriculum change

Video on Youtube here:

In studies of LPP in schools, agency has often been understood in terms of the impact of teachers, students and parents on the implementation of top-down macro-LPP, or of the ways that community stakeholders generate LPP from below (Wiley & García, 2016). Such studies have emphasised the agency of the various school community actors in shaping LPP in their local context (Alexander, 1992). This talk will consider the question of agency from the perspective of the school as an ecological context in which actors claim agency in school-based LPP, and explore the ways that the local ecology has an impact on agency and constrains possibilities for exercising this agency. It will do this by examining the process of a school-initiated curriculum change to increase time for the study of foreign languages in a particular school as a case study of teachers’ agency in changing a schools’ LPP.

The school is a public secondary school with over 900 students. It identifies as a school with a strong focus on mathematics and science. The school offers German and Japanese and all Year 8 students are required to study a language. On completion of Year 8, language learning becomes an elective, which if chosen must be studied for a full year. In response to a call for government financial support for pilot projects to increase time of task for language learning, the school opted in by proposing a way to implement a model of ‘a lesson a day’ for each language through collaborative teaching of a part of the Humanities curriculum in German and Japanese. The pilot program was implemented for three years, but was ultimately found to be unsustainable for the school.

This talk will investigate the ecology of factors that lead to the decision by school leaders that the model they had originally proposed could not be delivered by the school. It will investigate the ecology of forces that influenced the exercise of the language teachers’ agency as language planners within the school and the ways that this ecology of forces constrained their agentive possibilities. It will consider, in particular, the impacts of prevailing ideologies of education and the place of language study within education; conceptualisations of curriculum as a cultural artefact; structural features of school organisation; and professional relationships between teachers of different disciplines. As the language teachers worked to design and implement the new curriculum, these forces worked in different ways to constrain their possibilities for acting and ultimately led to the failure of the initiative.

The talk concludes that agency in micro-LPP is complex and contextualised and needs to be understood with the local processes in which it is deployed.

Alexander, N. (1992). Language planning from below. In R. K. Herbert (Ed.), Language and Society in Africa (pp. 56-68). Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.

Wiley, T. G., & García, O. (2016). Language policy and planning in language education: Legacies, consequences, and possibilities. The Modern Language Journal, 100(S1), 48-63. doi:10.1111/modl.12303

Editors’ Panel (for advice on publishing)

A note about the conference fees & dinner

We aim for maximum inclusivity in this conference, at all career stages, and taking into account variations in job security throughout academia. For this reason we keep costs low, which includes not providing lunch. (There is an excellent canteen on campus for delegates to buy lunch, or supermarkets a few minutes away in the city centre for cheaper alternatives.) Instead we are spending our budget mainly on ensuring everyone can take part, including sign language interpreters, childcare, and coffee! The conference dinner is also be cheaper than is conventional, in the interests of inclusivity.

A scene from the conference: tea & coffee break on day 1. Coffee, schmoozing, and serendipity!