Research in Modern Languages in the UK continues to be both varied and prolific and is increasingly understood to cover ‘world’ languages such as Arabic and Mandarin and to encompass scholarly endeavour across a range of fields beyond traditional literary philology. Government belief in our field has also grown in recent years, and we have the strong support of the British Academy and the All Party Parliamentary Group, which have both benefited from close collaboration with UCML.

Multilingualism and Language Learning: Linguistic practices and attitudes of university students learning languages in Europe and beyond. 

‘Multilingualisms and Language Learning’ is an AHRC-OWRI funded project headed by SOAS Professor Anne Pauwels. The focus of this research project is on the intersection between multilingualism, language learning and higher education. The constantly increasing voluntary and forced mobility of people resulting from the forces of globalisation and political instabilities in various regions are having a dramatic impact on the linguistic make up of many nation-states, especially in Europe. New forms of linguistic diversity and multilingualism are emerging, involving different linguistic practices.

These developments may result in changing attitudes towards multilingualism and in different views about the learning of other languages (e.g., which and how?). To date these issues received limited attention in the context of higher education. As universities play a key role in the preparation of the next generation of global citizens, it is important to examine students’ linguistic profiles, language attitudes and language learning experiences as well as to gauge their language learning needs to operate successfully in the linguistically diverse and complex environments created by globalisation.

This research project forms part of a large–scale research initiative ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’, an AHRC-Funded OWRI Programme, based at the University of Manchester.

More information about the project can be found here.

Research Activities

In 2016 the British Academy published its Born Global Report (attached below) which makes a powerful and original case the importance of Modern Languages, in teaching as well as research.

The AHRC is investing up to £ 20, 000, 000 over four years in four major projects in the Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) and has established a Modern Languages Advisory Group chaired by Michael Worton to oversee OWRI and to secure its legacy for the benefit of the subject community in both universities and schools. In 2017 the AHRC

appointed Professor Janice Carruthers (Queen’s University, Belfast) as lead fellow in Modern Languages. She works alongside Professor Charles Forsdick (Liverpool), the lead fellow for the research theme in Translating Cultures. The AHRC’s policy statement on Modern Languages and links to the four OWRI projects are attached below.

The Global Challenges Research Fund, overseen by Research Councils UK, offers many opportunities for imaginative cross-disciplinary researchers in Modern Languages.

In REF 2014 Modern Languages’ research power and our national profile were enhanced by collapsing the single language disciplines into one and amalgamating us with Linguistics. The configuration remains the same for REF 2020 when the sub-panel will be chaired by Charles Forsdick.

UCML is represented at meetings of the Arts and Humanities Alliance and the Advisory Council of the Institute for Modern Languages Research.


Further reading

Research related documents