Language Policy Forum 2018

Language policy in the age of diversity:

Dilemmas and hopes

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

Our sponsors


Click here for the online version of the programme (printable version to follow).

Click here for the abstracts.



  • Employed full-time, BAAL non-member: £65 (to join BAAL, click here).
  • Employed full-time, BAAL member: £60
  • Student with conference funding: £20
  • BAAL student member: £0
  • Fractional, adjunct, hourly-paid, retired, unfunded PhD student, or between jobs: £0

To register:

1) Click here to make a registration account

2) Click here to register


For lunch at the university canteen, please indicate any dietary requirements here.

If you're driving to the conference, please register for a parking permit here.


The conference will feature British Sign Language interpreters - we ask deaf delegates to contact us on to ensure interpreters are present in their chosen parallel session. 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. 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.

Upload your slides for the sl interpreters

Presenters, please upload your slides here for the sign language interpreters to read. Please do this by THURSDAY 17 MAY (two weeks before the conference). This doesn’t need to be 100% finished, but the closer the better. If you’re still collecting/analysing data up to the conference itself, it’s fine to leave a ‘data goes here’ gap in your slides; that’s certainly better than no presentation, or submitting it too late!

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

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)

Travel and accommodation

Venue: Owen Building, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield S1 1WB. Five minute walk from Sheffield central train station. Click 'View larger map' below to work out directions from elsewhere.

Travel: we suggest ordering your train tickets as early as possible, via Train tickets in the UK are dramatically more expensive if you buy them on the day, especially for longer distances; and they become gradually more expensive as the date of travel approaches. (NOTE: if you pay and select to collect your ticket from the train station, you may be told you can only collect your ticket from a specific station, but actually this has recently changed; you can now pick up your ticket from any UK train station with your booking reference.) The university is on the Sheffield tram route, although please note that the 'University' tram stop is for the University of Sheffield, not Sheffield Hallam University. The Hallam tram stop is the same as for Sheffield train station.

Accommodation in Sheffield is very affordable. We recommend and/or to find somewhere (though some universities will not reimburse AirBnB accommodation for insurance reasons, so check that first). The Ibis and Travelodge hotels in central Sheffield are about 5-10 minutes' walk from the venue, and both relatively affordable and modern. (The Best Western is closer and also cheap, but a bit old and worn!) Since the university is on the Sheffield tram route, you could stay a little outside of the centre and still have easy access.

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.

Click here to open the map in a new window.

The Language Policy Forum 2018 invites scholars, practitioners and other stakeholders to take stock of what language policy means in times of growing diversity. We are especially interested in presentations that discuss dilemmas (language-related problems in the world) and hopes (possible solutions, perhaps as a result of applying research findings).

Language policy permeates all domains of life, from the workplace, to the home and family, to schools, government, and other institutional settings. It materialises as something that enables some people to participate in these domains of life, and constrains others. The BAAL Language Policy group exists to enable dialogue on all areas of language policy research. We therefore encourage theoretical, methodological, and empirical contributions from fields such as (but by no means limited to): sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, political philosophy, economics, education, globalisation, and migration.

As well as presentations of new empirical findings, we encourage discussions of our own diversity of research practices: topics and data, methodologies, and practical applications. We also encourage pedagogical submissions, exploring innovative approaches to the teaching of language policy in higher education.

Within this broad scope, we have no preferred themes or sub-disciplinary areas. This is the Language Policy Forum, a forum for all research about language policy.

Updates and preliminary discussions will take place on the mailing list of the Language Policy special interest group. The group is open to all, and free to join. Just click the 'Join!' link in the menu at the top of this page.

Finally, there will be book raffles at the end of the Forum, so please don’t miss the fun!

Feel free to contact us with any queries. We are listed under the 'Committee members' page, linked in the menu at the top.

A note about the conference fees & dinner

We are aiming for maximum inclusivity in this conference, at all career stages, and taking into account variations in job security throughout academia. For this reason we are keeping costs low, which includes not providing lunch, or a wine reception. (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 will also be cheaper than is conventional, also in the interests of inclusivity, limited to a set main course (meat or vegetarian) and one drink. Diners can order extra items like desserts individually on the night.