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Issues of meta-language

Meta Language

The Linguistics and Knowledge about Language in Education Special Interest Group (LKALE)  is a newly formed group, concerned with the application of linguistic theory to the teaching and learning of language and literacy in formal education contexts in the UK from the early years to higher education. Just as the concept of literacy has been extended beyond the primary school years to secondary ones, so too, we believe, it should be further extended to encompass the language and literacy demands of study at undergraduate level. 

Specifically the focus is on exploring the meta-language associated with learning and teaching of Knowledge About Language (KAL for grammar and literacy). This includes the exploration of shared meta-languages with the teaching and learning of English and other languages. The National Curriculum for English at all key stages in England and Wales, the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland, and the curriculum in Northern Ireland all require the explicit teaching of English grammar and associated meta-language. In addition, there is an associated move for all schools and colleges to develop their own English and Literacy across the Curriculum strategies. There is a renewed focus in the teaching of modern languages (now simply called ‘languages’ in England & Wales) to develop conceptual understanding of, as well as ability to use, grammar. 

The focus of this inaugural colloquium will centre around a number of key issues such as: 

  • In what ways can a broader view of language and communication in education be encouraged in ways that can stimulate learners and teachers?  
  • How can pupils and students be motivated to learn languages in the UK given that English is such a significant world language that some see little incentive to learn an L2 because they can find others who are able to communicate in English? 
  • What kind of pedagogical expertise is required to develop and support a more expansive and nuanced conception of language?