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On the border of art and language learning and teaching in the multilingual world.
Sharing practice and theory.
13 – 14 November 2020
About the conference
Migration and the global movement of people and languages have become a significant factor in everyday life. The number of languages spoken in Scotland in 2018 exceeded 140 (Pupil Census Supplementary Data, 2018), and around 5% of Scotland’s population over the age of three speaks another language other than English at home (Strategy for Adults in Scotland, 2015). Calls have been made to recognise the UK as a multilingual society (Stafford, Press release, 2019).
Nevertheless, BBC reports that “Foreign language learning is at its lowest level in UK secondary schools since the turn of the millennium” whilst Professor Michael Kelly, an advisor to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Modern Languages, warns about the UK being in a language crisis (Kelly, 2019).
UK governments invest in policies promoting language learning, but so far, as some language experts remark, schools exceed at turning multilinguals into monolinguals instead (TES, 2019). The Scottish government intends for the 1+2 language initiative to reflect Scotland as a multilingual society – yet language uptake in schools continues to decline. At the same time, not much attention is given to adult speakers of other languages than English who live in the UK. Adults who do not speak English but live in an English-speaking country can be regarded as “having no language”(Strategy for Adults in Scotland, 2015).
The monolingual paradigm prevails in the public debate, language classes are perceived as boring, learning languages (other than English) useless and misconceptions about multilingualism proliferate. In the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) context, it has been recognised that English skills are essential for New Scots, however, not much attention is given to how to teach adult learners and their needs in the learning context (Strategy for Adults in Scotland, 2015).
The urgent need to address this situation has been recognised by the AHRC Open World Research Initiative seeking to establish a new and exciting vision for languages research.
This conference inscribes itself into this ambitious endeavour, exploring the potential of creativity and art for language learning, teaching and research.
The questions we want to focus on are: Can creativity and art help us to understand more about the way we use and learn languages? What is creativity in the language learning context and what are its implications for language learners and teachers? What is the best practice to use creativity and art in language research and teaching that we can identify and promote? What are the most effective ways to do so?
Through inviting both researchers and practitioners we hope to create a platform for knowledge exchange and capacity building as well as an opportunity to make connections that can result in future collaborations.
The conference is a final event in a series of events initiated in 2018 by a one-day workshop On the border of art and language teaching in the multilingual world, in which invited academics, artists, language teachers, and learners (both ESOL and foreign language learners) explored how and what artistic enquiry could be implemented into language teaching and learning context. The workshop funded by the SGSAH took place in Glasgow in June 2018 as part of the Scotland Refugee Festival. This was followed by a series of workshops in different cities in Scotland: Translanguaging in and through art, Glasgow, 24 June 2019 with funding from Culture and Business Fund Scotland explored the concept of translanguaging in art and through art with artists, researchers and creative practitioners; Multilingual ‘kinetic reading’ for children, Edinburgh, November 2019 and Multilingual ‘kinetic reading’ for adult ESOL learners, Aberdeen, November 2019 funded by Creative Multilingualism and ESRC and supported by Bilingualism Matters explored potential of dance and poetry performance in language learning whilst, funded by Language Acts and Worldmaking Multilingual Devised Theatre project with adult ESOL learners, which explored the impact of embodied and sensory experiences and multiple (home, second and modern foreign) languages in the process of language learning through developing a physical and multilingual performance, Aberdeen, February – April 2020.