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We publish dialogues between scholars representing distinct approaches and convictions regarding a research topic that is relevant for public debate.


Nicola McLelland

1 Jun 2023

In 2022, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) issued a call for two Future of Language Research fellowships to “conduct horizon scanning and gap analysis and related tasks”, in order to “inform the future of possible AHRC investment in languages research”, and “identify new and emerging research themes and relevant policy areas that languages research could address”. For the AHRC, the fellowships were an opportunity to take stock following their unprecedented investment of £16 million in four major languages-based research projects through the Open World Research Initiative (OWRI, 2016-2020), which had been intended to help reinvigorate languages in Higher Education and so help address long-standing concerns about declining enrolments in languages in schools and in university degree programmes. In the event, the AHRC chose to fund three Future of Languages Research Fellowships, which between them covered different areas of interest to the AHRC. McLelland undertook a wide-ranging, bottom-up survey of language researchers’ expertise and capacity, to map against current and future government, business and third-sector research needs. Labeau’s BRUM project treated Birmingham as a case study to map existing languages expertise in the city against languages needs in business and public services. Macleod, a specialist in Gaelic, examined the research capacity and research needs to support the UK’s indigenous languages. This Dialogues collection presents some key findings and recommendations from each of the three projects. (Confidential joint and individual reports and recommendations were also submitted to the AHRC; see also Harrison & McLelland 2023, in press.) In a fourth article, Liz Wren-Owens, the Vice-Chair for Research of the University Council of Modern Languages, reflects on the three Fellows’ findings and recommendations.


Richard Hudson and Graeme Trousdale

12 May 2019

In March 2019, the British Academy hosted a launch event for Language Analysis in Schools: Education and  Research (LASER), at which a number of speakers presented their  reflections on the importance of skills in language analysis for a range  of subject areas currently taught in schools. This Dialogues collection  of Languages, Society and Policy (LSP) contains brief position  papers from some of the presenters, which summarise the views expressed  at the launch. A striking feature of these contributions is the range  of disciplines they cover, from STEM subjects such as mathematics and  statistics to core humanities subjects like English and foreign language  learning. This focus on cross-disciplinarity is at the heart of LASER’s  objective: to raise the profile of language analysis in its own right,  to demonstrate its importance in a range of school subjects, and to  carry out research projects that inform educational policy and practice.


Dora Alexopoulou, Wendy Ayres-Bennett and Diana Sutton

16 Nov 2017

Languages, Society and Policy (LSP) is born out of our conviction that  insights from research in languages and linguistics have the potential  to yield policies that can improve and transform the lives of  individuals and communities and impact positively on society. We  consider it our obligation as academics and stakeholders to identify  those research insights and to communicate their relevance to policy  makers, decision makers, and the wider public. This is the purpose of  the LSP policy papers. However, even the most articulate  communication of our research is unlikely to go far if it is not  accompanied by an appreciation of the current UK wide landscape  regarding language policy. Active engagement with current policy  questions is necessary not only to identify the areas where our  contributions are most needed and likely to have the most positive  impact, but crucially, so that academics can become active partners in  the shaping of language policy.

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