Future of English Research Forum. Celebrating Englishes, cultures and diversity 2024

As part of the wider British Council Future of English programme, we are proud to announce the second Future of English research forum which will be held at Conference Aston, Birmingham and streamed online on Friday 8 March 2024. 

This one-day event brings together researchers from four international UK-led projects, awarded a Future of English research grant, to exchange ideas, share progress and interim findings. In this event, we celebrate the benefits and share the challenges of working on large international, multi-site research projects.

The British Council is also very excited to welcome David Shariatmadari, the Guardian's non-fiction books editor and author of Don't Believe A Word: The Surprising Truth About Language

This is a hybrid event, and registration is free of charge. In-person attendance is limited and allocated on a first come, first served basis. We look forward to welcoming you in Conference Aston or online.

 
 
 
 

Who this event is for

The forum provides an update on the wider Future of English research programme following the publication last year of The Future of English: Global Perspectives (download a free copy here)  and the launch of the Future of English exhibition, which is being hosted 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.

 
 
 
 

Date and venue

The research Forum will be held on Friday 8 March 2024, from 09.30, at Conference Aston.

Address: Conference Aston, Aston University, Aston Street, Birmingham B4 7ET

Online attendance and participation will be through Zoom. A link to the event will be sent in joining instructions one week prior to the conference.

 
 
 
 

Programme

09.30-10.00

Registration

10.00-10-20

Welcome and opening

10.20-11.00

Interview: Investigating diversities across primary English educational contexts

University of Warwick and Aston University

11.00-11.40

Presentation: How diverse are communication patterns in digitally-mediated EMI classes and HEI stakeholder voices?

CRELLA, University of Bedfordshire and University of Reading

11.40-12.10

Coffee break

12.10-12.40

Presentation: The future of English in Asian higher education: What can we learn from students’ and teachers’ current perceptions and experiences?

The Open University

12.40-13.10

Presentation: Building a corpus of student academic writing in EMI contexts: Data collection across diverse international higher education settings

Lancaster University

13.10-14.10

Lunch break. Lunch will be provided for all attendees

14.10-15.10

David Shariatmadari

Notes on style: text, taste, and the future of English

15.10-15.55

Coffee & conversations in style

15.55-16.55

Panel discussion with speakers and attendees (in-person and online)

Including David Shariatmadari, as well as representatives from the Future of English Research Grants project teams

Hosted by Mina Patel, British Council

16.55-17.00

Closing by Mina Patel, British Council

 

 
 
 
 

Project outlines (1): Investigating diversities across primary English educational contexts

Project 1: English for the EDI generation: predicting and tracking the role of English and digital/mobile technologies in Higher Education across East and South Asia

The Modish-EDI project examines the impact of the growing use of digital/mobile technology on regional and local ecologies of teaching, assessment and learning of English (TALE) in the four most populous countries in East and South Asia – Bangladesh, China, India, and Indonesia. These include (a) how technological innovation, which drives contemporary learning and communication in English, is shaping the future of the language in education, particularly higher education; (b) whether issues of gender, equality, diversity and inclusion will be an important consideration in the future of English; (c) the role that English plays as a linguistic resource alongside other languages; and (d) policy and practice implications for the development of English in East and South Asia. Since these changes cover diverse concepts such as technology, demography and multilingualism, with different theories attached to each of them, the project is studying these phenomena through multiple theoretical lenses – namely the technological lens, the demographic lens, and the multilingualism lens.  

 
 
 
 

Project outlines (2): How diverse are communication patterns in digitally-mediated EMI classes and HEI stakeholder voices?

Project 2: English as a school subject (EES) in basic education: influencing future policy directions

This project has two strands First, it tracks keys trends in English as a School Subject (ESS) in Basic Education (BE) through a longitudinal set of surveys to span 5 years, completed by partners in forty countries.  The project will examine how trends identified in other published research behave over the period and will highlight new and emerging trends. 

The second strand will identify the characteristics of ESS in BS in ODA countries.  Based on analyses and critical evaluation of curriculum/syllabus documents, course books and interviews/observations with teachers in twenty ODA countries, it will establish realistic core curricula at micro (country) meso (regional) and macro (global) levels for language systems and skills (content) and classroom activities (pedagogy). 

Based on the findings, a sample of descriptors for ESS in BE will be drafted, modelled on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and will therefore take the form of ‘can do’ statements. 

An analysis of gender and other protected characteristics in the coursebooks will also be undertaken in order to identify if and how ELT materials may be perpetrating stereotypes, potentially acting as negative input for young girls and other disadvantaged groups.  

 

(a) investigating the nature of spoken communication in digitally-mediated EMI classes,

(b) identifying the English language support needed for students and teachers, and

(c) exploring the implications of moving to digital for various higher education stakeholders currently and in the future.

 

Given the global significance of digital learning and EMI in higher education, this research provides critical insights into challenges and opportunities for English users in diverse contexts. It contributes to setting effective agendas for policymakers, educators, and a long-term research plan for global researchers. The study's results will yield practical resources applicable to stakeholders involved in teaching, learning, and testing in digitally-mediated EMI contexts. It will offer baseline data and a systematic methodology for further understanding current and future trends in the role of English in:

 

(i) online English language learning,

(ii) English medium education in higher education, and

(iii) English testing and assessment.

 
 
 
 

Project outlines (3):The future of English in Asian higher education: What can we learn from students’ and teachers’ current perceptions and experiences?

Project 3: Digitally-mediated EMI communication in higher education classrooms: Transforming evidence to practical resources  

This project investigates the emerging construct of digitally-mediated academic communication in English-medium instruction (EMI) classrooms and aims to gather a range of higher education stakeholder voices in Malaysia and Japan by: (a) investigating the nature of spoken communication in digitally-mediated EMI classes, (b) identifying the English language support needed for students and teachers, and (c) exploring the implications of moving to digital for various higher education stakeholders currently and in the future.

Given the global significance of digital learning and EMI in higher education, this research provides critical insights into challenges and opportunities for English users in diverse contexts. It contributes to setting effective agendas for policymakers, educators, and a long-term research plan for global researchers. The study's results will yield practical resources applicable to stakeholders involved in teaching, learning, and testing in digitally-mediated EMI contexts. It will offer baseline data and a systematic methodology for further understanding current and future trends in the role of English in (i) online English language learning, (ii) English medium education in higher education, and (iii) English testing and assessment.

 

 
 
 

Project outlines (4): Building a corpus of student academic writing in EMI contexts: Data collection across diverse international higher education settings

Project 4: Linguistic demands of EMI in Higher Education: A corpus-based analysis of reading and writing in university settings in China, Italy, Thailand and the UK

English-medium instruction (EMI) is a major pedagogical trend, reflecting and shaping the status of English as a global language. To offer new insights into the linguistic experience of students in EMI in higher education, our study will create and analyse a large database of reading and writing samples from over 1,000 students at seven universities in China, Thailand, Italy and the UK. The complete corpus will contain approximately 10 million words. A large-scale quantitative analysis will be conducted to describe lexical, grammatical and genre-related patterns in EMI reading and writing across different academic disciplinary areas (from STEM subjects to humanities). The findings will offer new insights into the linguistic experience of students in EMI, providing a robust, empirical basis for research-informed educational policies, addressing students’ linguistic needs in this context. The corpus will represent a major contribution to EMI research, allowing for future analyses that will benefit local contexts and English for academic/specific purposes (EAP/ESP) scholarship more generally. Currently, the corpus contains over 2.7 million words from approximately 800 texts representing four disciplinary areas within the key fields in EMI world-wide.

 
 
 
 

Registration

Registration is free of charge, though in-person attendance is limited and allocated on a first come, first served basis.

To register your attendance, in-person or online, please click on the 'Register' button above or below.

 
 
 
 

Contact information

Any questions? Email us at FoEgrants@britishcouncil.org.

 
 
 
 

Accommodation in Birmingham

Conference Aston: Discounted accommodation at Conference Aston for Thursday 7 March, 2024.

Travelodge: There are four hotels labelled as Birmingham Centre. The closest to Conference Aston are Moor Street and Central Bull Ring.

Premier InnThe hotels labelled Birmingham City Centre are all convenient, with New Street being the nearest. The one labelled Birmingham City -Aston is close to the University but it’s further from the city centre and there is very little around it.

Ibis: The first three are all quite central.

Staybridge Suites: A little more upmarket within walking distance.