InnoConf19 on 28th June: Treasuring languages: innovative and creative approaches in HE

InnoConf 2019

It is with great pleasure that Modern Languages and Linguistics at the University of Southampton are hosting the 9th annual conference in the Innovative Language Teaching and Learning at University series, InnoConf19, this year. The conference will take place on Friday 28th June 2019. We are delighted to have professionals involved in the teaching and learning of languages share their expertise, innovative approaches and creative solutions to face the challenges ahead surrounding language teaching.

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Treasuring languages: innovative and creative approaches in HE’. This theme aims to ignite discussions and seek innovative approaches dealing with creative ways to raise awareness about the value of learning languages.

You can follow the conference Twitter account at @innoconf. For further details about the conference, including the provisional programme, visit the InnoConf19 homepage. All welcome – please register for InnoConf19 here! We look forward to seeing you there!

LCAWB talk tomorrow: DeCentring the intercultural and small culture formation on the go – implications for internationalisation, research methods and who we all are.

Language & Culture in the Academic World & Beyond logo
As part of the Language & Culture in the Academic World & Beyond being run by PGR students in Modern Languages and Linguistics, there will be a talk by Professor Adrian Holliday from Canterbury Christ Church University on Friday 10th May 2019 at 4pm in Lecture Theatre B, Avenue Campus (Building 65). The talk is entitled “DeCentring the intercultural and small culture formation on the go – implications for internationalisation, research methods and who we all are.” All welcome – please register for the talk here!

Here is the abstract for the talk:
So much of what has become normalised regarding the intercultural now seems invalidated by Centre structures (e.g. associated with ‘the West’, native-speakerism, the neoliberal university, patriarchy, and methodological nationalism). This includes common large-culture concepts such as equating second language with second culture, quantifying intercultural competence, locating third spaces as between, interpreting integration as mixing with locals. The struggle to deCentre requires finding threads that dissolve assumed boundaries and are often not where we expect, beginning with transient and everyday small culture formation on the go. However, things are often not what they seem. The intercultural is everywhere; interculturality is messy and political; researchers and the researched merge; and data needs to be disturbed. I will attempt to look at these questions through reference to my forthcoming book with Sara Amadasi, Making sense of the intercultural: finding deCentred threads.

Next CLLEAR seminar: A dynamic typology of syntactic change in contact Englishes

CLLEARThe next Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR) seminar will take place on Wednesday 15th May 2019 at 4pm in Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus (Building 65). The talk is entitled “A dynamic typology of syntactic change in contact Englishes” and will be delivered by Devyani Sharma from Queen Mary, University of London. All welcome!

Here is the abstract for this seminar:
Postcolonial Englishes are an ideal testing ground for the influence of universals and language transfer in contact languages. However, the tendency to conduct static comparisons of contributing grammars to an outcome grammar often overlooks a dynamic aspect of the actuation problem, namely ‘why certain instances of variation become changes and others don’t’ (McMahon 1994). I assess this question in relation to contact settings: Why does only a subset of variable usage become entrenched over time in a given contact variety? An initial comparison of several syntactic features in Indian English and Singapore English supports a strong substrate, rather than universalist, basis for new usage. However, a closer examination shows that only some of these variable features have stabilised and become deeply embedded across the community. Substrates cannot fully account for this subtler distribution. They over-predict change. To better understand which forms become more entrenched, I turn to a sociohistorical hallmark of postcolonial Englishes: diminishing input from the source variety. Drawing on models of input sensitivity from second language acquisition theory (the Subset Principle; the Interface Hypothesis), I develop a two-dimensional typology to assess the relative role of substrate difference and input demand (the degree to which rich input is needed for the acquisition of a specific syntactic form) in stable outcomes in New Englishes. Both appear to be operative but substrates may be the more powerful force, as certain entrenched forms point to hard limits on learnability due to the substrate grammar, despite low input demand. Modelling contact as dynamic phases of individual learning embedded within a changing linguistic ecology helps to account for selective change over time within wider feature pools of variability. It also uses long-term outcomes of social contact to feed into theoretical questions of featural representations and learnability.

Welcome back after Easter!

Hello everyone! Welcome back after what was, for the most part, a warm and sunny Easter! We hope you had a lovely break! Whether you spent time with loved ones or friends, went on a trip or relaxed at home, we hope you could take some time out to do things a normal working week doesn’t allow. Now, are you ready for the summer term? This is another busy term with all sort of exciting things to look forward to! Stay tuned for upcoming updates on our blog!

South East Regional Routes into Languages Foreign Language Spelling Bee Competition

It is with great pleasure that Modern Languages and Linguistics are today (24th April) hosting the South East regional qualifying round of the Routes into Languages Foreign Language Spelling Bee Competition. 3,284 year 7s started the competition in the South East and the last 60 pupils from 20 schools are competing today, with the top 4 in each language proceeding to the national finals in London later this year.

This is part of a national competition for Year 7 pupils to practise and improve their vocabulary, spelling and memory skills in a foreign language (French, German or Spanish). The pupils will have one minute each to translate into the target language randomly selected words from the 150 that they have learnt up to this stage and spell them out in the target language.

The Routes into Languages Foreign Language Spelling Bee is one of many initiatives looking to buck the trend in the decline in modern language learning and which promote learning foreign languages to school pupils.

You can follow the event on Twitter accounts from 1pm today on @ModernLangs, @unisouthampton and @UoSmedia.

To see previous Spelling Bee competitions in action, please see the Routes into Languages NW Foreign Language Spelling Bee Competition 2014 (which was hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University).

Research centres event on Wednesday 20th March: “Perspectives on the concept of the ‘native speaker'”

Research centresThe next seminar, which combines speakers from four of our research centres, will be held on Wednesday 20th March from 4-5:30pm in Lecture Theatre C at Avenue Campus (Building 65). The seminar is entitled “Perspectives on the concept of the ‘native speaker'” and will be presented by a range of staff from the department. All staff and students are welcome for what will be a lively session!

Here is the abstract for the seminar:
Over recent decades, the notion of the ’native speaker’ has been much discussed and often contested in applied and socio-linguistics. In this cross-centres seminar, speakers from our four research centres, CGE, CLLEAR, MeXsu and TNS will each present their own approach to the notion, and the seminar will then be opened up to the audience for comment and discussion. The speakers are Rob Baird and Sonia Morán Panero representing CGE, Laura Dominguez representing CLLEAR, and Clare Mar-Molinero representing both MeXsu and TNS.

The 2018-19 Italian Film season has now finished

Italian flagDear students and staff,

We regret to inform you that due to heavy academic workload for our students for whom the films have been arranged, it has been decided to cancel the two last screenings of our Italy through its films.

Therefore the screening of La Vita è bella on 11th March and Perfetti sconosciuti on 25th March will not go ahead. Students and staff will be able to borrow both DVDs from Avenue library and watch them in their own time if they wish to.

We apologise for any disappointment but we are sure that you understand that these events are dictated by educational priorities linked to modules and in this particular case we felt it was necessary to readjust films screenings accordingly.

Best wishes,
Alessia and Louis

Next Centre for Transnational Studies seminar on Wednesday 6th March: Who defines what it means to be “disabled” in China today?

TNSThe next Centre for Transnational Studies seminar will be held on Wednesday 6th March from 4-5pm in room 1177 at Avenue Campus (Building 65) in collaboration with the Confucius Institute. The seminar is entitled “Who defines what it means to be ‘disabled’ in China today?” and will be presented by Dr Sarah Dauncey from the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham. All staff and students are welcome!

Here is the abstract for the seminar:
In this talk, Sarah Dauncey looks at the construction of disabled identities specifically from the perspective of Chinese cultural epistemologies. Drawing on sociological theories of citizenship, her research reveals how traditionally accepted notions of personhood are often fundamentally challenged through encounters and interactions with understandings of disability and impairment. She provides engaging examples of the ways in which representations and narratives of disability negotiate the identity of their subject(s) in relation to dominant discourses, where collective social, political and cultural understandings of what it means to live a ‘productive’ disabled life are both imbued and contested. Her findings offer new evidence as to the importance of intersectional accounts of disabled citizenship in revealing the complex and shifting power relationships between disabled individuals and/or groups and the state in any particular country or specific cultural context.

More information on Dr Dauncey can be found on her profile page.

Italian film showing on Monday 25th February – A Special Day – Una Giornata Particolare

Italian flagWe are pleased to invite you to the next film of our Italy through its films series, featuring A Special day – Una Giornata Particolare (Ettore Scola, 1977).

Join us on Monday 25th February in Lecture Theatre B at Avenue Campus at 6:15pm. “A Special Day” takes place on the day of Hitler’s 1938 state visit to Rome, where he was given a gigantic, hysterically enthusiastic reception by Mussolini, the King, the diplomatic corps. After packing off her six children and her husband (all properly uniformed) to attend the rally, Antonietta sets about to clean her cramped apartment when Rosamunda, the mynah bird, escapes and flies to the other side of the courtyard of the now-empty apartment block. This is the device that brings Antonietta and Gabriele together… A Special Day stars Sofia Loren (Antonietta) and Marcello Mastroianni (Gabriele).

There is also a critique of the film by Louis Bayman.

All welcome, free entry!

SIGLTA meeting on Thursday 28th February: Setting a CEFR cut score on test instruments

SIGLTAYou are cordially invited to attend the Special Interest Group in Language Testing and Assessment (SIGLTA) meeting. SIGLTA is a postgraduate student-led reading/research group within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

The meeting is at 17:00-18:30 on Thursday 28/02/2019 in room 1095, Avenue Campus (building 65).

Abstract: Standard setting is a decision-making process of setting a cut score – a certain point on a test scale used for classifying test takers into at least two different categories (e.g. pass or fail). The standard setting process usually entails recruiting a group of panellists to complete a variety of tasks in order to recommend a cut score on a certain test instrument. In this presentation, I will discuss what constitutes good practice in setting CEFR standards for language examinations. The most common standard setting methods will be covered as well as their associated challenges.

The speaker: Dr Charalambos (Harry) Kollias received his Ph.D. degree from Lancaster University. He works as an Assessment Research and Analysis Manager at Oxford University Press. He has over 30 years’ experience in the education sector in roles ranging from teacher, teacher trainer to assessor trainer and (co)author of examination materials. With over 18 years’ experience in the assessment field, his areas of specialism include measurement analysis (pre- and post-test analysis), test material development, alignment studies, (virtual) standard setting workshops, and research studies. He has presented at several international conferences and facilitated the 12th Annual EALTA pre-conference workshop with Sauli Takala entitled “Standard setting – how to implement good practice”. His main interests are Rasch measurement theory, (virtual) standard setting, language assessment and validation, and artificial intelligence.

If you require any further information please send an email to or or see the SIGLTA Facebook page.