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

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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.

Manifesto for Languages launched today

MFLThis morning, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages launched its ‘Manifesto for Languages’, calling on “all political parties to make general election manifesto commitments to boost language learning”. The call for stronger commitment to MFL teaching and learning is supported by many major businesses, organisations and universities whose role in improving British language skills is said to be crucial, and the manifesto calls for “a commitment to maintaining and developing UK expertise in modern languages and cultures in university language departments”.

At the same time, the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML) is calling on all universities to make “a GCSE A*-C grade or equivalent in a modern foreign language a pre-requisite for admission to undergraduate programmes in any discipline” in order to contribute to the development of “global graduates”.

(All quotes from the THE article “University role ‘crucial’ for languages recovery“.)

The APPG’s manifesto is receiving widespread press coverage today; follow the links to some of the reports:

TES news: “Modern languages need ‘national recovery programme’, say MPs

BBC: “Modern languages ‘recovery programme’ urged by MPs

British Council: “The APPG launches the Manifesto for Languages today

The Independent: “Lack of foreign-language skills ‘threatens the UK economy’

‘New Directions in Reflective Practice’ conference at Aston University

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CLERA held a one-day conference on 14th May 2014 aimed at bringing together researchers and English language professionals to share current approaches to reflective practice. The event was led by Dr Fiona Copland, Director of CLERA, School of Languages and Social Sciences, Aston University.

From left to right: Dr. Steve Mann, Dr. Sue Wharton, Professor Thomas S.C. Farrell, Dr. Nur Kurtoglu-Hooton, Dr. Elaine Riordan and Dr. Fiona Farr

From left to right: Dr. Steve Mann, Dr. Sue Wharton, Professor Thomas S.C. Farrell, Dr. Nur Kurtoglu-Hooton, Dr. Elaine Riordan and Dr. Fiona Farr

We were delighted to welcome many well-known researchers as speakers at the event. The opening plenary talk was delivered by Professor Thomas S.C. Farrell (author of Reflective Language Teaching: From Research to Practice).  Other invited speakers included Dr Nur Kurtoglu-Hooton, Aston University; Dr Sue Wharton, Dr Steve Mann and Sarah Banks, University of Warwick; Dr Jane Spiro, Oxford-Brookes University; Dr Fiona Farr & Dr Elaine Riordan, University of Limerick.

During the conference, there was plenty of opportunity for discussion of a range of issues in the field, from practical approaches to reflective practice to researching it effectively and evaluating it critically.

The conference was attended by 60 delegates comprising of Masters and PhD Research students, EAP tutors and lecturers in English Language Teaching from across the country.

Many thanks go to Dr Fiona Copland for organising the conference and to the British Council for sponsoring this event.

British Council

The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We call this cultural relations.

CLERA Researcher of the Month: Wine Tesseur

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.

Wine TesseurOur Researcher of the Month for July is Wine Tesseur, a Marie Curie Researcher at Aston University. She holds an MA in Germanic Languages from KU Leuven (Belgium) and an MA in Translation from Lessius University College (Belgium). She is currently working on her PhD at Aston as part of the Marie Curie Initial Training Network TIME (Translation Research Training: An integrated and intersectoral model for Europe). Her PhD deals with translation policy at Amnesty International.
Click here to read her profile.

How to be OUTSTANDING in the Secondary MFL Classroom

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Twilight CPD session: How to be OUTSTANDING in the Secondary MFL Classroom at Aston University 10th June 2014

Due to the successful event held on 11th February 2014, CLERA ran a repeat session aimed at Secondary school Modern Foreign Language (MFL) practitioners. The course was attended by Class Teachers, MFL Co-ordinators and Heads of department from across the West Midlands and even as far as Essex.

The aim of the event was to help practitioners to think about what an OUTSTANDING lesson in MFL is and how it is achieved. Gemma Riley, Assistant Principal at Sidney Stringer Academy in Coventry, delivered this practical session with her colleague, Andy Compton who gave some suggestions on how to use iPads in the MFL classroom. Their school was recently awarded ‘Outstanding’. They shared resources, lesson plans and ideas with the delegates.

Many thanks go to Gemma Riley, Andy Compton and to the delegates for making this CPD session such another great success.




Free resource: Crazy Animals and Other Activities for Teaching English to Children

Crazy Animals and Other Activities for Teaching English to Children is a British Council publication edited by Fiona Copland and Sue Garton (both CLERA) with Monika Davis.  Recently,  Pavlina Haralampieva (Onchevska) has posted a video on Youtube showing children in her class talking about the book:

The book is free to download and can be found at:

10th BAAL Language Learning and Teaching SIG at Leeds

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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.