2020 Language Policy Forum

Language policy and human movements: Global, regional, local

7-8 May 2020

Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 184 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 8PQ

In 2020 we continue our highly successful series of international, affordable, and accessible conferences. Each year we welcome people from dozens of countries to our inclusive event, encouraging involvement of researchers from a range of career stages and with a range of accessibility needs and caring responsibilities.

This year we are delighted to have accepted submissions from 25 countries, representing a broad range of sub-disciplinary areas, methodologies, and geographical contexts. The full programme will be released shortly after the registration deadline.

Presenters and non-presenting attendees: PLEASE CLICK TO REGISTER

(DEADLINE for presenters, MONDAY 9 MARCH; for non-presenters, 4 April)

Then please upload a draft of your presentation for the sign language interpreters, using the form below, by THURSDAY 23 APRIL 2020.

Plenary speakers

Professor Wendy Bennett

Professor of French Philology and Linguistics

Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics

University of Cambridge

Language Policy in the UK: Challenges and Future Directions

In 2000, the final report of the Nuffield Languages Inquiry, Languages: The Next Generation included as one of its major findings the fact that ‘Government has no coherent approach to languages’. Fifteen years later, in October 2015, the lack of a government-wide policy for languages was discussed and lamented at a national languages policy seminar held at the University of Cambridge. In this talk I will review some of the efforts to put languages higher up the political agenda over the past five years, and outline some positive recent developments. I will conclude by suggesting some possible future directions for UK language policy over the next five years.

Professor Joseph Lo Bianco

Professor of Language and Literacy Education

Graduate School of Education

University of Melbourne

Language Policy as Mitigation of Conflict in Multi-Ethnic Conflict Affected Societies: Reflections from Two Decades of Southeast Asian Experiences

The paper focuses on the practice of language policy and language policy advising in conflict affected multi-ethnic settings in southeast Asia. Critical concepts discussed include language grievances, language and war, facilitated dialogue and language problems. A major part of the talk will concern the practice of the facilitated dialogue, devised by the speaker over two decades of participation in practical projects of language policy intervention. The facilitated dialogue is a methodology for supporting antagonistic groups to reach broad consensus on the names of language problems and, maximally, a shared strategy for tackling these problems through collective authorship of language policies. The facilitated dialogue forms part of an overarching role of language planning intervention involving bottom up and top down components. The wider context concerns processes of national consolidation and the building of distinctive practices of political citizenship in post-colonial settings of vast linguistic diversity, economic regeneration and trans-national collaboration. A central part of the talk will be the experience of the speaker’s leadership of the Language, Education and Social Cohesion Initiative of UNICEF, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Netherlands, in Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia, between 2011 and 2017, and two follow up projects of language policy work in the context of conflict mitigation strategies in Myanmar. The talk will conclude with reflections on the wider significance of the experiences of language policy as a strategy for mitigation of conflict in the entire field of language policy theorisation.

Call for papers

(The call is now closed; the text is for reference on the conference themes.)

Human movement is one of the most prominent defining features of modern society, and while people are on the move, so too are languages. Much research has looked at migration and its impact on linguistic diversity and language practice; however, less is known about how the process of language movement is negotiated, managed and governed both within and across borders.

Central to the debate on this issue is the need to understand the relationship between ‘border’ and ‘order’, and how these notions are (re)conceptualised and contested. What, for example, is the role of language in creating and maintaining a sense of order? LPF 2020 provides a unique opportunity to critically engage with this debate from a language policy perspective. We are interested in interdisciplinary and multi-layered understandings of language policy in relation to all forms of human movement: global, regional, local.

Critical issues of interest range from local and regional issues - such as language policy in the multilingual classroom and language planning to achieve regional peace - to national and international matters - such as language policy for nation building and language policy challenges in international student mobility.

LPF 2020 in Cambridge is intended to build on the themes raised at LPF 2019 in Edinburgh, and to provide a space where different research approaches and methods on language policy are interrogated. We strive to take forward the methodological conversation and try out new ideas to examine theoretical and conceptual issues of language policy and human movement.

The Language Policy Forum is international, affordable, and accessible. We strive for inclusivity, especially attending to various disabilities, as well as precarity in academic employment. The BAAL Language Policy special interest group (www.langpol.ac.uk) exists to enable such broad and inclusive dialogue. Our fee structure reflects this, as does our attention to other forms of accessibility, including physical access, provision of childcare, and sign language interpreting.

The conference languages are English and British Sign Language.

Presentations will be 20 minutes, followed by 5 mins Q&A. There will be 5 minutes for handover between two sessions.

Local chair: Yongcan Liu.

Local organising committee: Karen Forbes, Linda Fisher, Cindy Chang, Javier Moreno, Lini Xiao.

Conference fees

  • Employed full-time, BAAL non-member: £120 (to join BAAL, visit https://baal.org.uk/join/)
  • Employed full-time, BAAL member: £100
  • Non-BAAL fractional/adjunct, non-BAAL student with conference funding: £60
  • BAAL fractional/adjunct, BAAL student with conference funding: £50
  • Retired, unemployed, student without conference funding: £20


Click each blue place marker below to see details of each venue.

The closest airport is London Stansted, which links to Cambridge by coach, train (30-40 minutes), and road (M11). Train travel from London Heathrow or London Gatwick is also quite straightforward (though longer, around 2 hours) - see www.nationalrail.co.uk. Travel from London Luton involves bus + train - see www.travelinesoutheast.org.uk.

We recommend that you make booking well in advance to avoid significantly more expensive train tickets bought close to or on the day of travel.


May is a busy time in Cambridge and we advise that you book your accommodation as early as possible.

Cambridge has a wide range of hotels, B&B accommodation and guest houses. The following are close to the conference venue: Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 184 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8PQ.

Imperial Cambridge Hotel

Travelodge Cambridge Central


Hotel Ibis

If you are interested in staying in a Cambridge College, please book through College Rooms.

Social programme

6 May

20:00. Informal welcome drinks, The Earl of Derby, 129 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1PG.

7 May

18:00. Drinks Reception, Faculty Garden (in the conference venue)

19:30. Conference Dinner (pre-booked), NINES global buffet, First Floor, Cinema Level, Clifton Way, Cambridge, CB1 7DY.

8 May

16:30-18:30. Free walking tour around Cambridge (departing from conference venue)

18:30-19:30. Punting on the River Cam (optional)

19:30 onward. Informal farewell drinks, The Anchor, Silver St, Cambridge CB3 9EL.