Update from the AHRC Future of Languages Fellows Emmanuelle Labeau, Michelle Macleod, and Nicola McLelland

Huge and very sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to complete our survey, to be interviewed, or to contribute in any other way to the Future of Languages Research fellowship projects funded by the AHRC earlier this year (see here for details). Our survey of the languages researcher community received 536 responses in total, of which 150 were from current PhD students, as well as 29 interviews across all career stages. The representation across languages was in line with what we would expect from other available data sources, and as a very rough measure, the 386 responses from post-PhD researchers represent approximately 23% of the 1688 staff submitted to UoA 26 (Modern Languages and Linguistics) in REF 2021 (though not all who replied were submitted to REF, or not to that unit).  All your contributions yielded very rich data and – alongside REF 2021 overview reports – gave a valuable insight into languages research, its future potential in the UK, and some of the concerns and barriers to opportunities.

Next steps

We completed a draft report and recommendations to the AHRC in July 2022, and submitted a final version to the AHRC in early September, with a large number of recommendations, some at the level of detail, many more strategic in scope. We trust that we will all see some related outcomes in due course.

We know many colleagues, especially those who took the time to contribute to the survey or to be interviewed, are eager to know more about what emerged from it all. We have presented a few headline findings at one or two events in the summer, but our reports and recommendations submitted to the AHRC remain confidential. However, we will be publishing many of our findings and recommendations for the languages community in various ways:

  • We plan to publish 3 short pieces, one by each of us three Fellows. They will be open access (e.g. in the online open-access journal Languages, Society, Policyhttps://www.lspjournal.com/)
  • Nicola McLelland and Katie Harrison are preparing a fuller article with findings and recommendations for the languages community, based on the survey and interview data collected. The article will be open access.
  • Michelle Macleod and Dawn Leslie are also preparing a fuller article on the research needs of indigenous language policy makers.
  • Emmanuelle Labeau is continuing her work on the languages of Birmingham and on widening participation in languages, through her project BRUM (Birmingham Research for Upholding Multilingualism), and will co-chair (with Becky Muradas-Taylor, Leeds) a panel on The ‘where’ of languages: Perspectives from widening participation universities at the conference  ‘Where Are We Now? The Location of Modern Languages and Cultures’ in Durham on 19th – 21st April 2023.

If you would also like one of us to speak to your organization, please let us know. We will be happy to do so.

Emmanuelle Labeau (e.labeau@aston.ac.uk), Michelle Macleod (m.macleod@abdn.ac.uk), and Nicola McLelland (agznjm@exmail.nottingham.ac.uk)

(AHRC Future of Languages Research Fellows, January-June 2022)

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