Webinar 17th October 2020

‘Language, education, social justice and migration’

presented by James Simpson, University of Leeds

Date: Saturday 17th October, 2020

Time: 10am to 11.45am UK time (doors open 10am: talk starts at 10.15)

Venue: this is a free online event. Register at this link: https://forms.gle/bcVA21DWuPCfkNYU6

You will then be emailed the Zoom joining details.

Please note- during the webinar, we ask all attendees to keep their microphones muted until told otherwise. This is to support both the speakers and attendees in this online environment.


In research and practice in English language education, attention is increasingly paid to the promotion of social justice. For example, researchers and practitioners alike interrogate the role English plays in cultural assimilation, and challenge the way higher or lower value is ascribed to particular Englishes as a legacy of colonialism. In this seminar, I consider how such language ideological debates relate to a context of practice, adult migrant language education in the UK, the field commonly known as ESOL, English for Speakers of Other Languages.

In recent decades, the English language has been central to questions of migration, citizenship, integration and belonging. With this in mind, I note two concerns. First, ESOL as currently conceived – in policy circles and in established curricula – is associated with a powerful ideology of ‘one nation one language’. This stance disregards that people develop competence in English as part of a multilingual repertoire, and that ESOL practice has a role in in supporting their multilingualism. Second, bracketing ESOL with social integration betrays an understanding of settlement as being the responsibility of the newcomer, instead of recognising it as an issue for everyone. Drawing on research in urban multilingualism, ESOL policy formation and ESOL practice, I outline principles for an alternative social justice-informed approach to adult migrant language education, appropriate for conditions of mobility and times of change. Participants are invited to discuss the relevance of the matters I raise to their own professional situations.

James Simpson is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education, University of Leeds, where he carries out research in language education and mobility. His publications include Adult Language Education and Migration (Routledge, 2015), The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics (Routledge, 2011), and ESOL: A Critical Guide (OUP, 2008, with Melanie Cooke). He manages the email discussion forum ESOL-Research, and is Chair of Trustees of MESH, a charity which supports adult migrant language education in Yorkshire.

NATESOL website at www.natesol.org        Facebook       Twitter @NATESOL_Tweets