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Language Policy and Local Curriculum Initiatives Over the Last 50 Years

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Language diversity and education in Coventry

 

In England, and across the UK, there is a mounting sense of crisis about the declining engagement in language education. Language skills have significant value in local and international education, business and other sectors, while supporting communities to protect their linguistic heritage or understand the linguistic diversity in their area fosters inclusivity and improves community cohesion. In a linguistically diverse city such as Coventry, where at least 14% of residents speak one of over 120 languages other than English as their “main language”, it is particularly important to understand how language education contributes to the development and maintenance of language skills and diversity.

In this interdisciplinary project, researchers from the Department of Applied Linguistics and School of Modern Languages and Cultures aim to investigate the provision of and participation in language education within Coventry from contemporary and historical perspectives. The project has three main areas of focus: modern foreign languages in schools, community languages, and EAL/ESOL (English as an Additional Language/English for Speakers of Other Languages) Across each of these areas, we are interested in questions such as:

  • Which languages are taught and in which types of schools/institutions?
  • Are there differences in provision and participation according to different groups (gender, age, socio-economic status, ethnicity)?
  • What is the nature of local initiatives and how have they contributed to language education?
  • How do language programs in different schools compare with regards to e.g. curricula and assessment, teaching hours, resources and facilities, teacher training and practice?
  • What is the relationship between language programs and multilingualism in the school community and wider community?
  • Which schools provide English support for immigrant students and how?
  • How have contemporary and historical national and local language education policies affected the provision of and participation in language education?

This project aims to create a positive impact on language education, both in Coventry and more widely. The findings of this project will be useful for supporting schools in developing their local language education policies and approaches (such as through workshops for school leaders) and can contribute to future policy development (such as through a policy briefing paper).

For more information, please see the Languages in Coventry Research Group website.