BAAL Language In Africa SIG Annual Meeting at Aston


Friday 22nd May 2015

Theme: “Developing languages in Africa: social and educational perspectives”

Venue: School of Languages and Social Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham

The objective of this BAAL Language in Africa (LiA) meeting is to enable LiA SIG members and others to get together, present their research, and discuss current issues with a focus on the impact of ideologies on sociolinguistic and sociocultural contexts of language use in Africa, including areas such as language in education, language in development, and language maintenance and shift.

Keynote speaker: Prof.Lutz Marten, SOAS.

‘Three contexts of language development in Africa’

Lutz Marten is Professor of General and African Linguistics at SOAS, University of London. Lutz has conducted extensive fieldwork in East, Central and Southern Africa, working on Swahili, Luguru, Bemba, Herero and other Bantu languages. Focusing on language in context, his work gives attention to local and transnational forces acting on languages. Besides pioneering work on ‘Dynamic Syntax’, his publications include studies of language contact and comparative Bantu grammar, and a co-authored textbook, ‘Colloquial Swahili’.


Presentations can focus on any theme-related topic.

Abstracts written in English of max 300 words (with bibliographical references) for a 30 minute paper should be sent by 10th April 2015 to Dr. Ross Graham: The preferred file formats are .doc and .pdf. Authors of accepted abstracts will be notified by 17th April 2015.

REGISTRATION: The Meeting fee is £20.00 for BAAL members, £30.00 for non-members and £15 for students. For online registration and further details of the event on the website when available, see

New Publication: Linguistic Ethnography

CLERA Director Dr Fiona Copland has co-authored an engaging interdisciplinary guide to the unique role of language within ethnography.Copland & Creese Linguistic Ethnography from SAGE

From the publisher:

The book provides a philosophical overview of the field alongside practical support for designing and developing your own ethnographic research. It demonstrates how to build and develop arguments and engages with practical issues such as ethics, transcription and impact.

There are chapter-long case studies based on real research that will explain key themes and help you create and analyse your own linguistic data. Drawing on the authors’ experience they outline the practical, epistemological and theoretical decisions that researchers must take when planning and carrying out their studies.

For more information, go to the publisher’s website.


Second Annual ‘How does language & literacy work?’ Conference at Aston University

CLERA identifierInterLanDpark view trust



On behalf of CLERA and InterLanD (School of Languages & Social Sciences), Dr Urszula Clark hosted the second annual conference on the topic: ‘How Does Language & Literacy Work?’ on 17th May 2014. The conference continues the ground breaking collaboration begun last year between University researchers, providers of continuing development programmes in teaching English as an additional language and teachers across the primary and secondary sectors.

The conference aimed to:

  • Make the workings of the language system explicit in order to appreciate the role language plays, in constructing knowledge across all learning areas.
  • Build understandings about the patterned ways meanings are made within and across genres so that educators are able to develop students’ language resources to understand and produce those genres.
  • Enable participants to understand and use the differences between spoken and written language, both as a teaching and a learning tool.

This year’s keynote speakers were Caroline Coffin, Professor in English Language and Applied Linguistics at the Open University, UK and Claire Acevedo, Freelance Education Consultant and Teacher Educator. There were also a series of workshops run by Dr Garry Plappert and Dr Urszula Clark, Aston University and Lee Donaghy, Park View Academy, Birmingham.

During the conference, there was plenty of opportunity for discussion of a range of issues in the field.

Feedback was positive. One delegate said, ‘This has increased my knowledge about functional linguistics. It has been an excellent opportunity to learn from a wide variety of professionals.’ Another delegate said, ‘Really excellent again, thanks so much for being so welcoming. I would definitely come again in 2015 & beyond!’

Many thanks go to Dr Urszula Clark for organising the conference and to all the speakers and delegates who gave up a warm, sunny Saturday to attend.

10th BAAL Language Learning and Teaching SIG at Leeds

BAAL logo

The 10th international conference of the BAAL Language Learning and Teaching SIG is taking place on 3rd & 4th July 2014, hosted by the University of Leeds. This year’s theme is “Recognizing complexity in language learning and teaching”.

The conference programme is now online on the conference website.

Registration is open until 18th June and accommodation is available on campus for the nights of 2nd, 3rd and 4th July.


CLERA Researcher of the Month: Gertrud Reershemius

CLERA has a broad range of researchers and research candidates working in many different areas of language education. Each month, we feature one of our researchers to learn more about them, their work and their interests.

Gertrud ReershemiusOur Researcher of the Month for July is Gertrud Reershemius, Professor of German Linguistics, Associate Dean of Research for LSS, and Co-Director of CLERA. Her wide-ranging research interests include lesser used languages (Yiddish and Low German), sociolinguistics, multilingualism and language contact, and German as a Foreign Language.

Click here to read her profile.

CLERA research talk: Ethical challenges in applied linguistics research

kubanyiova-magdelenaOn April 24, 2013, Dr Magdalena Kubanyiova, Lecturer in Educational Linguistics at the University of Birmingham, will give a talk in the LSS English Seminar Series, in cooperation with CLERA.

She will be talking about “Ethical challenges in applied linguistics research”.

When we talk about ethics in applied linguistics research, we typically refer to at least two distinct, albeit interrelated, areas: an ethical conduct in research involving human subjects and the moral ends of our research activity. The first set of concerns has traditionally been embedded in Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) or codes of ethical practice, such as Recommendations on Good Practice in Applied Linguistics Research (BAAL, 2006) or TESOL Quarterly Research Guidelines. With a few exceptions, these have until recently not received much scholarly attention beyond the routine treatment in research methods manuals. On the other hand, engagement with values and moral purposes of applied linguistics research has been pursued alongside the epistemological debates in the field (Cameron, Frazer, Harvey, Rampton, & Richardson, 1994; Firth & Wagner, 1997) and reflections on the relevance and social use of applied linguistics has become even more prominent in recent years. Scholars have examined the values and purposes of applied linguistics in general (Bygate, 2005), or in relation to specific sub-disciplines, such as language testing (McNamara & Roever, 2006), language teaching (Crookes, 2009; Johnston, 2003), forensic linguistics (Shuy, 2009) or second language acquisition (Ortega, 2005; Thomas, 2009).

In this talk, I will argue that an increasingly changing landscape of applied linguistics research involving diverse linguistic, sociocultural and socio-political, virtual as well as material, contexts, collaborative research relationships or multimodal means for collection, analysis and presentation of language data has renewed the urgency with which the field needs to engage with both moral ends and moral conduct. Using examples from research involving endangered language documentation fieldwork, multilingual interaction, and computer-mediated communication, I will argue that ethically important moments (Kubanyiova, 2008) can arise in the specific research contexts regardless of the methodological or epistemological approaches adopted by the researchers. Drawing on the work outside of applied linguistics (Guillemin & Gillam, 2004; Haverkamp, 2005; Helgeland, 2005) I will outline more situated approaches to ethical decision-making, namely ethics of care and virtue ethics and discuss implications for the development of future researchers.
For further information, please contact Dr Fiona Copland.

In memoriam John Gumperz (1922-2013), pioneer in sociolinguistics

john_gumperzThe renowned linguist John Gumperz “devoted his career to improving cross-cultural understanding and his work in ethnography of communication, interactional sociolinguistics, discourse strategies, code-switching, and urban anthropology was extremely influential” (BLC).

Born in Germany to Jewish parents, Gumperz moved to the US with his parents in 1939. Having received a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, he later became fascinated with language and switched fields, pursuing a PhD in Germanic languages at the University of Michigan. From 1956 until his retirement in 1991, he worked at the UC Berkeley where he pioneered research in linguistic anthropology.

His main interest was sociolinguistics, the study of the effect of society (cultural norms, conventions, etc) on language use. Specifically, he established the subdiscipline of interactional sociolinguistics by using discourse analysis to investigate “the way people convey and conceal meaning and social standing with their choice of words, their intonations, and their accents” (Goodyear). Among his many contributions to the field is the introduction of the ‘speech community’ as a unit of linguistic analysis.

John Gumperz passed away on Friday 29 March 2013 in Santa Barbara, at the age of 90.

For more information, read the obituaries in the New York Times  and The Daily Californian, and listen to an interview with his former student, Professor of Linguistics Deborah Tannen (Georgetown University), on NPR.

Call for Papers: AILA World Congress 2014


The Applied Linguistics Association of Australia will be hosting the 2014 conference of the International Applied Linguistics Association Conference on 10-15 August, 2014 at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, Australia. The conference theme is “One World, Many Languages”.

From the conference website:

“The program of invited plenary speakers and invited symposia aims to provide a snapshot of emerging and cutting edge trends in Applied Linguistics internationally. It will also reflect the diversity of research in the broad field of Applied Linguistics , both in its traditional heartland of second language learning and teaching, and also in more socially-oriented and / or emerging fields related to language and society, language and diversity, language policy, multilingualism, discourse analysis, communication in professional and other contexts, and forensic linguistics.

As AILA 21014 marks 50 years since the first AILA was held in Cambridge in 1964, two of the invited symposia are specifically designed to revisit the themes of AILA 1964, which were:

  • Automatic Translation
  • Language Teaching
  • Research Cooperation in Europe

Much has changed since 1964, with a much greater diversity of research strands and research areas, also reflected in the symposia organized by the Research Networks (ReNs). However, there are also elements of continuity, which the program is designed to explore.”

AILA 2014 invites proposals for presentations that are related to policy, research, and theory in areas of applied linguistics. Proposals may be for individual papers, posters, symposia or workshops.

Please note the following important information.

  • Call for proposals will close midnight on Tuesday 30 April 2013 (AEST).
  • Abstracts can only be submitted online – submissions by email, post or fax cannot be accepted.
  • Proposals must be submitted in English. If you wish to present your proposal at the Congress in a language other than English, you may do so, but you must advise of the language you will be presenting in at the time of submission. Please note, however, there will be no translation services at the Congress.
  • You must submit your paper to a specific stream.
  • Please read all the information on the abstract submission page before submitting your paper.

For more information, go to the Abstract submission website.

Call for Papers: 46th Annual Meeting of BAAL, Edinburgh, 5-7 Sept 2013

BAAL logo

The 46th Annual Meeting of BAAL, “Opening New Lines Of Communication In Applied Linguistics”, will take place at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, on 5-7 September 2013 and is organised by the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies.

Conference theme1

Over the last number of decades, research in the area of applied linguistics has been transformed by an increasing focus on the social, cultural and linguistic changes brought about by globalisation, increased mobility and transnational flows, new technologies and a changing political and economic landscape. These changes have had major implications for the ways in which we conceptualise the relationship between language and society in the twenty-first century. A new communicative order has emerged in which we find new types of speakers, new forms of language and new modes of communication. The conference theme ‘Opening New Lines of Communication in Applied Linguistics’ addresses the challenges and opportunities that this new communicative order presents in the field of applied linguistics. To understand the complexity of this new (socio)linguistic reality, the conference explores new lines of communication between sub-disciplines within and beyond the field of applied linguistics.

Plenary Speakers

Kathryn Woolard, University of California, San Diego
Jannis Androutsopoulos, Universität Hamburg
Svenja Adolphs, University of Nottingham

Call for Papers:

Abstracts are welcome in any area of Applied Linguistics, should be interesting and innovative in some way, and should be of scholarly and academically good quality and indicate clearly objectives, method(s), and results where appropriate. Abstracts which address the conference theme will be particularly welcome.

Deadline for receipt of abstracts: 1 March 2013

For more information, go to the conference website.

Aston University will host the 48th Meeting of BAAL on 3-5 September, 2015.

1 Text taken from the conference website

Regional accents in UK thriving, according to new research from Aston

It has long been thought that the modern-day increase in social mobility would lead to a flattening and, ultimately, the death of regional accents. A research team at Aston University, led by Dr Urszula Clark, has found just the opposite: When people move away, they tend to maintain their familiar accent to show allegiance to where they come from.

In their project West Midlands English: Speech and Society, the researchers “investigate and describe the range of accents and dialects of the West Midlands today” by looking at how performers use accent as a way of identifying with a specific place. Their findings indicate that “drawing upon linguistic features of a particular variety, such as Black Country English, cuts across ethnicity, gender and class boundaries”.

To learn more about this project, read the full article in the Daily Mail or visit the project website.