Several decades into the era of being the main language of international communication, English retains its status as ‘the’ global language. Global circumstances and our contemporary communicative contexts have shifted dramatically, however: major geopolitical changes, technological advances and socio-cultural factors are reshaping our linguistic landscape, raising questions about the future of language use in general, and the role English will play in future communication and learning. Will English continue to be the pre-eminent global language? How will the myriad forms of English continue to evolve? How and for what purposes will English be used? Who will the users of English be and how will they influence the language in the future?
Sitting within the wider Future of English research programme, which aims to explore the answers to the big questions about the English language through broad engagement with the users, learners and teachers of the language across the world, the Community of Practice brings together four of the major research project streams to exchange ideas and share findings along their research journey as the programme progresses. In anticipation of the launch of the British Council The Future of English: global perspectives publication in April 2023, the first Future of English Research Forum is a one-day event that showcases these research projects to a wider audience and seeks to address two key questions within the broader context of the Future of English research programme:
- Why attempt to plot the future of the English language? What insights might we achieve by exploring how English is likely to be used, taught and learnt in the coming decades? How might these insights help to promote a more equitable, inclusive world?
- How can the future of English be investigated? What methodological traditions and interdisciplinary approaches might help to plot future trajectories of the language and how it is used? What fresh perspectives might the theoretical lenses of Global Englishes, plurilingualism, decolonisation, and the digital/AI revolution in communication reveal about the potential future of English?
The one-day event includes an overview of each of the four research projects, as well as presentations from two eminent scholars in the field of English language, Prof Suresh Canagarajah of Pennsylvania State University and Prof Angela Creese of Stirling University. They will aim to address the key questions of why and how. The day closes with a discussion that seeks to engage the plenary speakers, the project researchers and a wider audience both in-person and online.
The Forum provides an initial introduction to the wider Future of English research programme in advance of the Future of English publication and the launch of the Future of English exhibition, which will be hosted virtually and at key locations around the world. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with project researchers and in the discussion at the event. The Forum will be of interest to English language researchers and educators, as well as to applied linguists, policy makers and socio-cultural researchers more generally.