Migration and Language-Learning: Histories, Approaches, Policies

Migration and Language-Learning: Histories, Approaches, Policies

University of Leeds, 23rd-24th February 2018


Migration and Language-Learning: Histories, Approaches, Policies

University of Leeds, 23rd-24th February 2018 


‘what sorow is for them that be refugiate in a strange countrey, when they can not understand the language of that place in whiche they be exiled: and when they can not make them to be understood by speach to the inhabiters of that contrey, wherein they be retired’

– Jacques Bellot, 1586


The histories of migration and language-learning are closely intertwined. In this British Academy Rising Star engagement workshop, to be held at the University of Leeds, an interdisciplinary group of early career researchers (ECRs) working on migration and language-learning in historical perspective will engage with individuals and organisations working on language education, policy, and activism in the context of migration today. This workshop aims to bring together participants from a variety of fields, working on periods from antiquity to the present day, in order to stimulate new conversations and new relationships within and beyond the academy.

As well as two days of discussion, there will be an evening dumpling-making workshop on 23rd February with Heart & Parcel, a Manchester organisation who offer ESOL teaching to migrant women through cooking classes. On 24th February, there will be a public event – open to all – with a number of authors from The Good Immigrant essay collection: Nikesh Shukla, Kieran Yates, and Inua Ellams.

A travel & accommodation subsidy of £75 is available to early career researchers attending the conference but not presenting a paper.


Day 1: Friday 23rd February

10am: Registration

10.30am: Welcome

  • John Gallagher

11am – 12.30pm: Deep histories

  • Caitlin Ellis, ‘Raiding and trading words: linguistic contact with Vikings in Britain and Ireland’.
  • Emilie Murphy, ‘Nun Migrants: Language Learning and Early Modern English Women in Exile’.
  • Alisa van de Haar, ‘To the benefit of the German Nation: refugees from the Low Countries teaching French in sixteenth-century Germany’.

12.30 – 1.30pm: Lunch

1.30 – 3pm: Social media, migration, and language-learning today

  • Mohammed Ateek, Penelope Gardner-Chloros, and Lisa McEntee-Atalianis, ‘Translanguaging, Social Media and Language Teaching’
  • Osama Haggag (co-creator of Duolingo German for Arabic speakers)
  • Caoimhe Gallagher (Refugee Phrasebook)

3 – 3.30pm: Coffee 

3.30 – 5pm: Teachers, learners, and languages

  • Camille Jacob, ‘Migrations real and imagined: English in Algeria’
  • Khetam Al Sharou & Ceri Butler, ‘Refugee doctors & medical English’
  • Laurent Maameri (École Laïque du Chemin des Dunes)

5.30 – 7pm: Dumpling-making & ESOL workshop with Heart & Parcel (Manchester)

Day 2: Saturday 24th February

9.30 – 11am: Language and migration, then and now

  • Mursal Hedayat (Chatterbox)
  • Katherine McDonald, ‘Learning to be Roman: language learning and literacy in ancient Italy’.
  • Babel’s Blessing, radical language school

11 – 11.30am: Coffee

11.30 – 1pm: Language and politics in the 19th & 20th centuries

  • Geraldine Lublin, ‘The national language as ‘the Soul of the Nation’: lessons from the Argentinean ‘one nation, one language’ model’.
  • Matteo Pretelli, ‘Speaking Italian is Also Being a Fascist? Mussolini, the Italian language, and Italian Americans’.
  • Liubov Baladzhaeva, ‘New wave of Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel: to learn or not to learn (Hebrew)?’

1 – 2pm: Lunch

2 – 3.30pm: Languages on the move in the 20th century

  • Louisa Egbunike, ‘TBC’.
  • Corinne Painter, ‘Language Learning and Identity: Migration Strategies in the Third Reich’.
  • Elisabeth Leake, ‘Languages of displacement among Afghan refugees in Pakistan’.

3.30 – 4pm: Coffee

4 – 5.30pm: The view from Yorkshire

  • Roger Nyantou (RETAS Leeds)
  • Sawsan Naji & Mohammad Basem Karesli (MESH/Sunflower ESOL)

6pm: Public event featuring Nikesh Shukla, Kieran Yates, and Inua Ellams (authors of The Good Immigrant essay collection): Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre, University of Leeds

Open to all!