News and Events archive

4th November 2017

Ethnography and Modern Languages: Critical Reflections 

Venue: Room 243, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

This workshop provided a forum to critically reflect on the position of ethnographic approaches and methods within Modern Languages research and teaching. 

Ethnography is a growing area of interest among Modern Languages scholars, particularly among early career researchers and those working across the AHRC’s Open World Research Initiative and the Translating Cultures theme. Ethnography has also played a central role in earlier and current pioneering work to transform the Modern Languages curriculum within universities. At the same time, ethnographic approaches often lack visibility within Modern Languages disciplinary discussions and institutional structures.  

This workshop invited a series of both early career and experienced researchers and lecturers in Modern Languages to reflect on how they have engaged with ethnography in their research and/or teaching practices. Discussions focused on how these approaches can be more effectively supported and developed, and how they complement and enter into productive dialogue with more established areas of Modern Languages research, such as literary and cultural studies.


9.45: Introduction 

10.00-11: Ethnographic Encounters and Language Learners as Ethnographers

  • Prof. Marion Demossier (Southampton)
  • Prof. Shirley Jordan (Newcastle) 

11 -11.15: Coffee 

11.15-12.30: OWRI Early Career Reflections on Ethnography and Modern Languages

  • Dr John Bellamy (Cambridge)
  • Dr Deirdre Dunlevy (QUB)
  • Dr Daniel McAuley (QUB) 

12.30-1.30: Lunch 

1.30-2.45: Ethnography and Transnationalizing Modern Languages

  • Dr Jenny Burns (Warwick)
  • Dr Margaret Hills de Zárate (QMU)
  • Georgia Wall (IMLR) 

2.45-3pm: Coffee 

3-4.15pm: Ethnography, Digital and Visual Culture

Jess Bradley (Leeds)

  • Dr Saskia Huc-Hepher (Westminster)
  • Dr Thea Pitman (Leeds) 

4.15-5pm: Closing Reflections

  • Prof. Janice Carruthers (AHRC Leadership Fellow in Modern Languages)
  • Prof. Charles Forsdick (AHRC Leadership Fellow for Translating Cultures)

19th July 2017

The TLANG project commissioned Women and Theatre to create a new show which represents and reimagines the outcomes of the research. The theatre company presented the show to community audiences in Birmingham, before touring London, Leeds, and Cardiff. The collaboration between TLANG and Women and Theatre provided an innovative means of engaging a wider constituency for the research, and expanded our understanding of communication in social life through the arts. 

The show was directed by award-winning artist Janice Connolly, B.E.M. (aka Mrs Barbara Nice). 

Download the flyer for the event

19th June 2017

Project films from the School of Education at the University of Leeds screened during Refugee Week at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

Two films from projects by James Simpson and Jessica Bradley in the School of Education, University of Leeds were screened as part of Refugee Week at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on Monday 19th June 2017. These films were made as part of the AHRC-funded Migration and Home: Welcome in Utopia project, part of the Connected Communities Utopias 2016 Festival and as part of a follow-on project funded by the Leeds Social Sciences Institute through its Impact Acceleration Account. The West Yorkshire Playhouse is a Theatre of Sanctuary and delivers a range of programmes for communities across Leeds, using theatre as a way to bring people together. The work links to the 'Translation and Translanguaging' project.  

A link to the programme is available here: 

19th - 23rd June 2017

Researching translanguaging: key concepts, methods & issues

This free 5-day residential course organised by TLANG was designed for researchers, including doctoral researchers, who were engaged in research on communication in multilingual contexts. Contributions to the residential were also be made by colleagues from the University of Cape Town, also funded by AHRC (ES/M00175X/1), whose focus was on the pedagogic potential, and ideological challenges of translanguaging in multilingual contexts. 

Translanguaging as a Practical Theory of Language: Implications for practice and research

As part of the summer course, we were delighted to welcome Professor Li Wei from the UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics, University College, London. Professor Li Wei commenced proceedings by providing a state-of-the-art public lecture setting out the theoretical underpinnings of this developing concept.

Researching translanguaging

Linguistic, cultural and demographic changes have been ushered in by transnational population flows, the crisis of war, the changing political and economic landscapes of different world regions, and by the advent of new technologies for social media and online communication. These conditions have created a pressing need for a programme of detailed research which makes visible the ways in which people interact – how they translanguage and translate  – in rapidly-changing social settings. 

The last decade has seen the emergence of new strands of research on translanguaging and new lines of enquiry which have incorporated critical and post-structuralist perspectives from social theory and which have embraced  ethical epistemologies and research methods. Different research strategies have been employed in different kinds of sociolinguistic spaces: in local neighbourhoods, across transnational diaspora, in multilingual workplaces, complementary schools/community classes, mainstream educational settings, health care centres, sports clubs, religious gatherings, legal settings, bureaucratic encounters, in the mass media, and on the internet. Researchers have provided detailed accounts of face to face encounters in multilingual settings and in mediated, virtual interactions. They have also explored the interface between spoken and written language use and multimodality, seeking connections between local situated practices and wider social processes. 

Translanguaging theorizes communicative practice as repertoire and considers how people deploy their semiotic resources within the ideological contexts in which they operate.  It includes aspects of communication not always thought of as ‘language’, including gesture, dress, posture, and so on; it is a record of mobility and experience; it includes constraints, gaps and silences as well as potentialities; and it is responsive to the places in which, and the people with whom, semiotic resources may be deployed. Because social categories do not correspond straightforwardly to identifiable linguistic forms, we need to adapt our ways of seeing to understand the plurality of repertoires, styles, registers, and genres in play as people communicate. 

Translanguaging in research practice

A focus on translanguaging enables us to see how everyday practices and identities are rooted in the trajectories of the multiple communities to which individuals belong, and how they develop and transform. The deployment of diverse communicative repertoires is not only apparent in the social contexts in which we research, but is also manifestly evident in the research teams in which we work. Translanguaging is a significant dimension of research practice in some areas of social science, due to the increasing linguistic and cultural diversity of contemporary society. Furthermore, translanguaging, with its focus on communicative practice, can be studied from an interdisciplinary perspective which can raise difficult questions about what constitutes data, evidence, claim and argumentation. These collaborations across different disciplinary backgrounds, social and linguistic biographies, and professional contexts throw up key epistemological issues and questions relating to researcher identity and to asymmetries of power in the knowledge-building process. This residential offered a forum for researchers across the social sciences who are working in multilingual settings to engage in dialogue about ways of working and to consider the issues arising from work in multilingual and interdisciplinary teams. 

The 5-day residential course at Birmingham

The 5-day course was organised into sessions, with different themes and orienting theories. The sessions were led by different members of the TLANG team with international collaborators from the University of Cape Town. 

  • Session 1: Researching translanguaging: why, what and how? 
  • Session 2: Translanguaging as communication: a repertoire approach
  • Session 3:Translanguaging and superdiversity: an ideological perspective
  • Session 4: Translanguaging and social media
  • Session 5: Translanguaging and cityscapes
  • Session 6 and 7: Translanguaging in educational settings
  • Session 8: Translanguaging and multimodality
  • Session 9: Translanguaging in research practice
  • Session 10: Translanguaging, engagement and interdisciplinarity

12 November 2016

Belonging: Happiness in the City

Do you belong? What gives you that feeling? How do others get a feeling of belonging? How can we help each other to feel we belong, more? 

Come along and join in a colourful celebration of your differences from and connections to those around you. Through art, story-telling, music and food, this event brings together people from different backgrounds who are united by this physical place we share to ask: what else do we share? Can we be happy, together?

From 12-4pm at the Trinity Centre, (In the old Trinity Methodist Church building), Four Elms Road/Piercefield Place (off Newport Road), Cardiff, CF24 1LE

Perthyn: Hapusrwydd yn y Ddinas

Ydych chi'n perthyn? Beth sy'n rhoi'r teimlad yna i chi? Sut mae pobl eraill yn cael teimlad o berthyn? Sut allwn ni helpu ein gilydd i deimlo ein bod ni'n perthyn mwy?

Dewch draw ac ymunwch â dathliad lliwgar o'r hyn sy'n eich gwahaniaethu a'r hyn sy'n eich cysylltu â'r bobl o'ch cwmpas. Trwy gelf, storïau, cerddoriaeth a bwyd, bydd y digwyddiad hwn yn dod â phobl ynghyd o wahanol gefndiroedd sydd wedi eu huno gan y lle ffisegol hwn yr ydym yn ei rannu, ac yn gofyn: beth arall ydyn ni'n ei rannu? Ydyn ni'n gallu bod yn hapus, gyda'n gilydd?

Cymerwch ran mewn creadigrwydd, anrhefn a hwyl gyda ffrindiau – rhai hen a newydd.

Dydd Sadwrn 12 Tachwedd 2016 – 12-4pm – Canolfan y Drindod, (yn hen adeilad Eglwys Fethodistaidd y Drindod), Four Elms Road/Piercefield Place (oddi ar Heol Casnewydd), Caerdydd, CF24 1LE

Mae'r digwyddiad hwn yn rhan o Ŵyl Gwyddorau Cymdeithasol ESRC ( ac yn rhan o Brosiect Tlang (

This event was part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science ( 

20 October 2016

New Digital Story - Bull Ring Meat Market

At the first TLANG Network Assembly in May 2016, Professor Adrian Blackledge read his poem, 'Bull Ring Meat Market', which is an artistic response to linguistic ethnographic data collected during the project.


25 October 2016

Language choice as an index of identities: Linguistic landscape in Dili, Timor-Leste  

Speaker: Dr Kerry Taylor-Leech, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia

Venue: Room M35, School of Education, University of Birmingham

This talk aimed to show how language choice indexes social and national identities in the linguistic landscape of Dili, Timor-Leste. Dili is the capital city of this new Southeast Asian nation, which achieved formal independence in 2002. The linguistic landscape was examined in the light of the country's language situation, its language policy provisions and against the broad social, economic and political backdrop. The iconicity and indexicality of top-down and bottom-up public signage was discussed and the use of language in a range of signs is further analysed using the notion of ‘language on display’. The talk also briefly presented two potential sites for the further ethnographic exploration of the linguistic landscape in this young and rapidly changing nation.

30 August 2016

AHRC award for international research on translanguaging

Professor Adrian Blackledge and Professor Angela Creese have been awarded funding to conduct research which will inform equitable language policy and practice in university education in South Africa. ‘Overcoming Barriers to University Education in South Africa’ is a collaboration between researchers at University of Birmingham, University of Cape Town, and Universities South Africa, a non-profit organisation representing South Africa’s public universities.  The research project, funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund, will generate new knowledge to inform the implementation of multilingual policy for teaching and learning in universities in South Africa. Benefits of the project will be increased access to, and success in, higher education for currently disenfranchised sections of society in South Africa. The project builds on and extends existing research by Blackledge and Creese into translanguaging as pedagogy and multilingualism in society. 

Angela Creese has won 'Award for Excellence in Doctoral Research Supervision'

7 July 2016

angela creese awardProfessor Angela Creese was nominated for her 'Award for Excellence in Doctoral Research Supervision' by her doctoral students, past and present. She has to date, supervised 14 students to successful completion and she continues to work with 6 doctoral researchers at different phases of their research. This endorsement of Angela Creese’s outstanding contribution to doctoral supervision followed as a result of exceptional student evaluations. Angela was delighted with her award, adding 'a student nominated award is the highest accolade in academic life'.

The presentation took place in the Graduate School in the University of Birmingham on 24th June and the certificates and prize money were presented by Professor Tim Softley, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research. 



International conference – Frontiers and borders of superdiversity: theory, method and practice  

23-24 June 2016

The Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) at the University of Birmingham is organised the second international interdisciplinary conference on superdiversity. The aim of the conference was to map the state of the art in knowledge on superdiversity and reflect on the analytical and heuristic uses of the concept, its potential and limits. Angela Creese and Adrian Blackledge were keynote speakers at this event. 

More information and biographies of the keynote and plenary speakers

Abstract - Angela Creese and Adrian Blackledge

In the superdiverse city multilingual speakers do not keep languages separate, in discrete compartments, but they ‘translanguage’, moving between languages and varieties and making the best use of available resources. A translanguaging repertoire incorporates biographies and learning trajectories; it includes aspects of communication not always thought of as ‘language’, including gesture, dress, humour, posture, and so on; it is a record of mobility and experience; it includes constraints, gaps and silences as well as potentialities; and it is responsive to the places in which, and the people with whom, semiotic resources may be deployed. In this presentation we extend our understanding of translanguaging, and propose that key aspects of communication in the superdiverse city are rhythm and ritual. The study we present is part of an ongoing AHRC-funded project, ‘Translation and Translanguaging. Investigating Cultural and Linguistic Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities’. Through analysis of linguistic ethnographic material collected in observations of a volleyball team in Birmingham we argue that rhythm is associated with social relations, and that small ritual ceremonies of everyday encounters maintain and at times reset the rhythm of social life. We conclude that rhythm, the ‘music of the city’ (Lefebvre 1992), and ritual, ‘a kind of social glue’ (Bouissac 2014), are fundamental to social relations in the superdiverse city. 

Utopias Fair

23-26 June 2016

The Utopias Fair is took place at Somerset House in London. More details are available here: Tlang presented their AHRC-Connected Communities project 'migration and home: welcome in utopia' at the fair. More information is available here:

Translanguaging multimodally: Insights from linguistic ethnography in a superdiverse city

20-21 June 2016 

Angela Creese and Adrian Blackledge gave a presentation at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Ethnic and Religious Diversity 


This presentation reports emergent findings from a research project which investigates how people communicate when they bring different histories, biographies, and trajectories to interaction in contexts of superdiversity. The talk focuses on interactions in three city centre sites: a busy meat and fish market, a new, state-of-the-art public library, and a volleyball club. Data were collected through a linguistic ethnographic approach, in which teams of researchers spent substantial, repeated periods engaged in observation of people as they went about their daily business. As we observed we wrote field notes, audio-recorded key participants, took photographs, made video-recordings, and conducted interviews. We found that in each of the sites people communicate multimodally. That is, their repertoires are not limited to the spoken word, but include other ritual interactions such as gesture and signing. In each setting people make what they can of available multimodal resources, translanguaging as they transform potentially miscommunicative interactions. In each space people in interaction found creative ways to communicatively overlap, for example by trying out resources from each others’ repertoires, and in the process expanding their own. Translanguaging was a means by which difference (linguistic, semiotic and otherwise) became a resource, and people in the superdiverse city were able to engage convivially. With reference to Goffman’s discussion of interaction ritual, and Bakhtin’s notion of becoming, we present new insights from linguistic ethnography in superdiverse contexts.

Translanguaging and repertoires across signed and spoken languages: Insights from linguistic ethnographies in (super)diverse contexts, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Ethnic and Religious Diversity  

Tlang team showcase 'Welcome' in Utopia film at visual arts event

16 June 2016

The Tlang researchers from the University of Leeds who are working in partnership with the Wakefield-based arts organisation Faceless Arts (FA) showcased their film 'Welcome' in Utopia at the Gods Own County outdoor visual arts event in Sheffield. This event presented work from 'The Professors' (their work was developed from the idea that their Yorkshire home presents a contemporary utopia) and 'The Collaborators' (their work was developed from a regional response to the theme of God's Own County). More details may be found at 

Translation, Translanguaging and Creativity: A Translating Cultures Workshop

13th June 2016

To coincide with the visit to the UK of Dr Tong King Lee (University of Hong Kong), author of the recent Experimental Chinese Literature: Translation, Technology, Poetics (Brill, 2015), the AHRC translating cultures theme organized an afternoon workshop on translation, translanguaging and creativity.

The event was arranged in collaboration with and was hosted by the Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London.

The seminar was followed by a lecture onTranslation, Translanguaging and Literary Art; by TK Lee at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Birmingham Education Partnership (BEP) Lectures

24th May 2016

Adrian Blackledge and Angela Creese were speakers at this BEP event which was in conjunction with the School of Education and the Public Service Academy at the University of Birmingham. The event is part of the 'What do we know about?' seminar series for Headteachers and senior leaders.  

Communication in the Superdiverse City 

13th May 2016

A Network Assembly which was held in the Thinktank in Birmingham.


Globalisation and changing patterns of migration mean ‘superdiverse’ cities are increasingly populated by speakers of multiple languages. This Network Assembly focused on communication in changing urban communities.

Speakers presented evidence of changing communication practices in city meeting places including markets, shops, libraries, arts venues and community hubs.

The focus of the day was interdisciplinary to promote exchange between a range of stakeholders including academics, professionals, and practitioners in the areas of business, heritage, libraries, museums, arts, community support and advocacy, and national and city level policy stakeholders. The presentation of research outcomes were accessible, evidence-based, and tangible and the social, political and economic consequences of research findings were foregrounded through engagement with participants. The day consisted of presentations, film, and panel and audience discussion and debate.

The day was organised around two themes:

  • Language, Business and the City
  • Everyday Encounters with Heritage

Download the full conference programme (PDF) 

Read more about the event on the Tlang Blog

This event was being jointly organised by Tlang and the Birmingham Museums Trust

Professor Li Wei awarded grant by the British Academy

April 2016

Professor Li Wei (UCL Institute of Education) together with Professor Bencie Woll, FBA (UCL) as the PI. has been awarded a Special Project grant by the British Academy for research on the Cognitive Benefits of Language Learning: Broadening our perspectives. The British Academy is concerned with the apparent decline of language learning in schools and its consequences for the future health of the nation. The specially commissioned project will aim to review research evidence on the relationship between language learning (including signed and immigrant languages), executive function, literacy, and health, as well as creativity, social and affective cognition, and intercultural understanding. The project will include systematic reviews, meta-analysis and meta-synthesis of published research, and use big data and social media to assess public understanding of the cognitive benefits of multilingual skills. A long-term legacy of the project will be a fully annotated and searchable research corpus. The project is for 18 months starting in April 2016.

Doctoral student Jing Huang, has been awarded a ‘Gold Award’ by the Chinese Embassy

April 2016

Doctoral student Jing Huang, who is a member of the TLANG Birmingham case study Advisory Group, has been awarded a ‘Gold Award’ by the Department of Education in the Chinese Embassy in London. This award is in recognition of an essay (in Chinese) that Jing had written for a Symposium Report Competition in 2015. The main theme of the 2015 symposium, which was collaboratively organised by the Chinese Embassy and the Chinese Educational Research Association-UK, was ‘comparative research on UK-China education’ and there were also 39 other sub themes. The aim of the discussions and essays arising from the symposium were to help inform the current policy making in China’s education system reform.

Jing Huang accepting her award from Minister-Counsellor SHEN Yang at the Chinese Embassy on 11th March 2016. 


In her prize winning essay (‘Hegemony and diversity: the current language ecology in Britain’) based on her own research interests on multilingualism in globalisation, Jing reported on the historical and current use of research on English and minority languages (such as Welsh, Gaelic, and ethnic languages) in the UK. Jing’s essay, together with the other two gold-awarded reports, will be published on China’s leading educational journal in due course.   

Birmingham Poets Laureate

3rd May 2016

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, Professor Sir David Eastwood, introduced the two current Birmingham Poets Laureate. Refreshments followed this free reading at the School of Edication.

Adrian Blackledge, who is also Professor of Bilingualism in the School of Education, University of Birmingham, was appointed Birmingham Poet Laureate in 2014. He is a winner of the Eric Gregory Award for poetry, a distinction he shares with Seamus Heaney, Simon Armitage, and Carol Ann Duffy, among others. His poems have been published in a wide range of journals, and in 2016 his new volume of poems, Inkling, was published. 

Serena Arthur was appointed Birmingham Young Poet Laureate in 2014. Serena is 18 years old, and balances A-level studies with poetry performances and talks across the city to inspire and encourage others to write and enjoy poetry. In October 2015 Serena performed with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rita Dove at the Birmingham Literature Festival. Serena currently holds offers of places for both the English Literature and the English and Creative Writing degree programmes here at University of Birmingham, so we hope that we will see much more of her in the years to come. 

On Heritage Speakers as Native Speakers: Description, Identity, Ideology

15th February 2016

Silvina Montrul is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she is also Director of the University Language Academy for Children, and Director of the Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Lab.  


Although the term “native speaker” conjures different ideological and linguistic connotations related to place of birth, ethnicity and linguistic proficiency, native speakers are not easily defined by one or two parameters.  We often define a native language as a language learned from birth and used during the critical period for language acquisition, which lasts until puberty. The outcome of the language acquisition process is a fully fluent, mature native speaker: somebody who, as a member of a sociolinguistic and ethnic group, has the accent of a regional variety of the language, grammatical intuitions and communicative competence, as judged by their peers.

Most people equate a native speaker with a monolingual when in fact the majority of native speakers in the world know more than one language. Children born in a multilingual environment can have more than one native language. However, bilingual native speakers can show different degrees of ability in one of the native languages because language proficiency can be profoundly shaped by the environment. This is particularly true for heritage speakers of immigrant languages in many parts of the world. Heritage speakers grow up exposed to a minority language from birth in a naturalistic environment. In contrast to monolingual native speakers, the language mastery of heritage speakers in early adulthood is often significantly different from that of both native speakers in the home country and their immigrant parents. But does this make them non-native speakers, like those who learn a second language later in life? While heritage speakers resemble non-native speakers in many ways, they also display high incidence of native-like abilities in some grammatical areas. In this talk, I discussed how heritage speakers’ ideas of themselves relate to their language abilities and how age of acquisition and language-learning experience explain these effects. I also showed how ideas and attitudes about their linguistic abilities can be linked to measurable psycholinguistic effects.

Linguistic superdiversity as a “new” theoretical framework in applied linguistics: panacea or nostrum?

Wednesday 3rd February 2016 

The MOSAIC Centre for Research on Multilingualism at the University of Birmingham, was delighted to host Professor Stephen May who is a Professor in Te Puna Wānanga (School of Māori Education) in the Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland, New Zealand. He is an international authority on language rights, language policy, bilingualism and bilingual education and critical multicultural approaches to education.


While the recent preoccupation with superdiversity and multilingual (urban) repertoires in critical applied linguistics is a welcome development, the concept, and its application in applied linguistics, also have some significant, as yet largely unacknowledged, limitations. This presentation explored these limitations and what might be done about them (if anything) in light of a more sceptical take on the current enthusiasm for linguistic superdiversity. 

The Multilingual University: The impact of linguistic diversity in higher education in English-dominant and EMI contexts ESRC seminar series

Friday 13th November 2015

In this 4th seminar of the series held at the School of Education, University of Birmingham, we asked ‘what is the multilingual university?’ Patterns of globalization and policies of internationalisation have led to changes in the linguistic make-up of universities, across student and staff populations. Especially in universities in cities in England, students and staff have extensive language resources at their disposal in the processes of teaching, learning, and research. However, policy and practice continue to privilege an English-only approach. The multilingual nature of British universities rarely features on official university websites, brochures and open days.  Even rarer is an acknowledgment of the multilingual environment which characterises everyday linguistic practice. Language resources are rarely discussed except when cast as a problem in relation to students’ English language proficiency. Seldom do universities in England refer to multilingualism as a resource.

This seminar invited speakers and participants to reflect on the implications of this apparent discontinuity between available linguistic resources and their deployment in the academy. We considered examples of multilingualism in practice in the university, and their affordances and constraints. We also look for opportunities to shape policy so that the multilingual resources of the university population may be made more readily available and accessible.

The day focused on multilingualism as a resource in the university, in terms of research and teaching and learning.  It addressed the following themes:

  1. Research Teams (including access to networks, brokering, translation, creativity)
  2. Interdisciplinarity (including communication with international partners)
  3. Support Services (including research intelligence, influencing agendas, supporting students )

For information about the ESRC seminar series, see

Language Research, Performance and the Creative Arts.

16th October 2015

The purpose of this free one day seminar at the School of Education, University of Leeds, was to bring together language researchers interested in the arts, to hear how some language researchers are engaging with performance and creative arts in their work, and to discuss how these fields inform each other. The aim is to create an open and discursive space in which we can start building a community of interested people.

The seminar was organised with members of two AHRC-funded projects; Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the Body, Law and the State and Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities (TLang) and was structured around talks from doctoral, postdoctoral and established researchers who are working with performance and the creative arts in different ways, either individually or as part of a larger research project. 

Talks were given by:

  • Jessica Bradley, University of Leeds
  • Richard Fay, University of Manchester
  • Katja Frimberger, University of Glasgow
  • Lou Harvey, University of Leeds
  • Zhuomin Huang, University of Manchester
  • Gameli Tordzro, University of Glasgow/Pan African Arts Scotland

Discussant: James Simpson, University of Leeds

Professor Li Wei wins prestigious BAAL book prize

8th September 2015

Professor Li Wei, together with Dr Ofelia Garcia of the City University of New York (CUNY) have been awarded the 2015 British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) Book Prize for 'Translanguage: Language, Bilingualism and Education'. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding book in the field of applied linguistics.

On publication, the book has been widely cited and reviews have called it 'provocative yet accessible', 'paradigm shifting' and 'a landmark publication'. The panel of judges for the BAAL Book Prize called the book a 'fundamental contribution to scholarship in applied linguistics and to language education'.

Read more about the BAAL book prize on the ULC Institute of Education website

BAAL Annual Meeting at Aston University, Birmingham.

3rd September 2015

Adrian Blackledge and Angela Creese gave a keynote lecture at the BAAL Annual Meeting at Aston University, Birmingham.

Other TLANG members who were presenting include: Jessica Bradley, Zhu Hua, Frances Rock, Caroline Tagg, and Piotr Wegorowski.  Programme information can be found at:

Everyday Entrepreneurs Inquiry

On 14th July 2015, Professor Adrian Blackledge presented findings from the TLANG research as evidence provided to the Everyday Entrepreneurs Inquiry of the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group at the House of Commons.

Download a summary of the evidence provided to the Everyday Entrepreneurs Inquiry

From multilingualism to superdiversity in corpus linguistics: implications for research

30th June 2015

Dr Rachelle Vessey from the University of Newcastle was the speaker at this seminar which was held at the University of Birmingham

This seminar is part of a short series of seminars entitled Language and Diversity: exploring corpus approaches.

From Nigeria and the Bahamas but ... currently living in Belgium: The superdiversification of Global English

18th June 2015

Professor Christian Mair from Universität Freiburg was the speaker at this seminar which was held at the University of Birmingham

This seminar is part of a short series of seminars entitled Language and Diversity: exploring corpus approaches.

Metrolingualism, Translation, Translanguaging

13th April - 1st May 2015

Linguistic Ethnography Forum in collaboration with TLANG

The e-seminar took as a point of departure the first chapter of: Metrolingualism. Language in the Cityby Alastair Pennycook and Emi Otsuji (2015, Routledge). Adrain Blackledge and Angela Crrese were the discussants in the forum.

Translanguaging - Practices, Skills and Pedagogy

20 - 22 April 2015

Professor Angela Creese was a key note speaker at this conference at Dalarna University in Sweden.

This conference took a critical perspective on the question of education for multilingual students by exploring the notion of translanguaging.  Challenging traditional perceptions of languages as discrete, countable entities, the notion of translanguaging highlights the simultaneous use of different kinds of linguistic forms, signs and modalities. The aim of the conference was to scrutinize the notion of translanguaging from three different but integrated perspectives: as practices, as skills and as pedagogy.

Scalar Approaches to Language, Time and Space: Further Directions

23 April 2015

With speaker Peter De Costa from Michigan State University

Macro-micro models in sociolinguistics have come under criticism recently (e.g., Collins & Slembrouck, 2009) because they offer only a partial understanding of how language resources are mobilized in language practices. Common among these criticisms is the need to move beyond the rather dichotomous reasoning that local language practices are constrained by broader processes and that, conversely, these practices sometimes change global processes. This criticism has generated efforts (e.g., Blommaert & Dong, 2010; Canagarajah, 2013; Collins, 2012; Collins, Wortham & Rhodes, 2012) to better understand the complex temporal and spatial dimensions that underlie language use. In light of the growing interest in scalar-based models, this presentation examined the use of scales to investigate complex, dynamic, on-the-ground realities of language use in a variety of contact zones. The presentation, at the University of Birmingham, aimed to take scalar analysis in new directions, recommending useful social and educational implications, and generating new questions for further investigation.

Widening participation and bi/multilingualism: the cultural and language resources of linguistic minority university students

6 March 2015

This seminar, at the UCL, Institute of Education, was part of an ESRC Seminar Series: The impact of linguistic diversity in higher education in English-dominant and EMI contexts.


During recent decades, there has been a mass expansion of tertiary education. Many countries have attempted to increase the number of students from groups that have historically been under-represented in the sector. In the English-dominant world, efforts to widen participation have contributed to an increase in the number of bi/multilingual university students, particularly those from linguistic minority working class backgrounds. However, the sector has generally viewed the linguistic diversity accompanying these students as a problem to be solved rather than an asset to be welcomed. This seminar aims to problematize this view by examining ways in which the multilingual capital that linguistic minority students from WP backgrounds bring into the sector can be used as a resource for social relations and academic work. What is the role of social class? How do social class and language intersect in the identities that linguistic minority university students inhabit and are ascribed? What are the challenges for teaching academic language in contexts of widening participation? What are the possibilities for using linguistic diversity as a resource for building bridges between the everyday and academic worlds of linguistic minority students? The seminar explored questions such as these, with interactive discussions with scholars with an interest in bi/ multilingualism and staff who are responsible for and experienced with the learning and welfare of widening participation students.

Speakers included David Block (ICREA) & Lídia Gallego (University of Lleida),Siân Preece (UCL IOE), Gillian Lazar (Middlesex University), James Simpson (Leeds University) 

Diversity and Super-Diversity: sociocultural Linguistic Perspectives

13th - 15th March 2015

Professors Jan Blommaert, Angela Creese and Adrian Blackledge spoke at the GURT 2015 conference in Georgetown University, USA.

'The objective of GURT 2015 is to foster and advance a reflection on the ways in which linguistic and communicative practices are affected by and contribute to diversity and on the theoretical-methodological challenges that accounting for such phenomena poses to sociocultural linguistics.'

Mosaic - re-imagining the monolingual classroom through theatre-in-education

27 February 2015

In this talk at the University of Birmingham, Deborah Pakkar-Hull explored the development of Mosaic- a piece of multilingual participatory theatre for 5 – 8 year olds that toured to schools in 2011.  The piece was created by Theatre in Education Company The Play House, and was designed to promote linguistically diverse practices in Birmingham primary schools. 

Presented from a practitioner perspective and based on data collected during the touring of Mosaic; primarily audio recordings made of the interactions of six participating pupils – the talk focuses on three significant moments from the performance, examining how participatory theatre pedagogies were successfully employed to promote multilingualism and to begin to challenge a culture of monolingual teaching and learning.     

The talk also explored the idea that the participatory approaches adopted in Mosaic,not only mounted a modest challenge to dominant monolingual norms, but also enabled children to explore and perform new social identities in relation to their multilingual resources.    

International Mother Language Day

21 February 2015

Multilingual Poetry

This event at the Library of Birmingham with Poet Laureate, Adrian Blackledge, and Young Poet Laureate Serena Arthur, brought together writers from across the city to perform their poems in multiple languages for the UNESCO ‘International Mother Language Day’, which celebrates linguistic and cultural diversity, and multilingualism. The event reflected on what linguistic and cultural diversity means in our lives today, and how it enriches and challenges us.

Linguistic and Cultural Interchange - Policies and Practices

20 February 2015

This one day conference at the University of Warwick, gave participants the opportunity to attend presentations centred on three main themes:

THEME 1: Community and memory

THEME 2: Multilingual and multicultural practices

THEME 3: Language in policy-making

ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION (with a response from Susan Bassnett) Facilitated by Derek Duncan and Jenny Burns

Community languages: policy, pedagogy, public understanding

24 November 2014

Professor Angela Creese was one of the panelists at this event, which explored debates regarding community languages including the role of policy-makers and the education system in supporting and making best use of them, the impact of public perception and how to engage with languages in the public sphere to increase awareness and understanding of their centrality to civil and civic life.

The event was sponsored by the British Academy and AHRC was part of the 2014 Language Festival. 

Simon Armitage: A Masterclass in Translating Poetry

Simon ArmitageThis event on 16 November 2014 at the Library of Birmingham offered a unique chance to learn directly from one of the leading poets writing today. Simon Armitage led a one-hour masterclass in translating poetry, open to new and experienced writers alike to an audience of over 200.

Simon was introduced by Professor Adrian Blackledge as Birmingham poet Laureate.  

Researching and Teaching Translingual Practice

8 September 2014

Seminar in the School of Education, University of Birmingham.

Suresh Canagarajah is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Applied Linguistics and Director of the Migration Studies Project at Pennsylvania State University. He has published six books, 39 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and 40 chapters in edited volumes. He is invited editor of the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of Migration and Language        

Teaching foreign languages at the university level in the age of globalization: Reflections – refractions – reconsiderations          

2 September 2014

This seminar with Dr Heidi Byrnes, Distinguished Professor of German at Georgetown University took place  in the School of Education, University of Birmingham.

In her presentation she explored how the teaching and learning of foreign languages, as contrasted with second languages, especially English as a second language in many parts of the world, is being challenged by phenomena that we associate with the age of globalization, multilingualism, and multiculturalism.    

Read more about the seminar on the TLANG blog

Launch of the Translation and Translanguaging research project

On Friday 18 July 2014 a launch conference for the research project, Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Cultural and Linguistic Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities, was held at University of Birmingham Business School. The interdisciplinary launch conference brought together speakers from the worlds of business, sport, cultural heritage, housing, migrants’ rights, legal advice, literature, and politics. A very busy programme became an immensely rich and stimulating day.

TLANG launch

More than 100 guests listened to speakers including novelist Gautam Malkani, local M.P. Gisela Stuart, and AHRC Translating Cultures Theme Fellow, Professor Charles Forsdick. The day concluded with an inspiring panel discussion involving all of the project partner organisations, as they raised new questions and looked forward to working in partnership with the research team.


View some of the tweets from the event

Find out more about the launch and view additional images on the TLANG blog