Even though we are surrounded by language every day, many people go through life without being aware of its essential role.

Would the world be a different place if everyone were to go through life as a language aware citizen? Language aware citizens are people who are able to perceive the effects language has on themselves and on others and who are able to critically engage with language in today’s society: at work, at home, at school, within their communities, etc.

But what exactly is it that language aware citizens should know about? How do we make them aware? And to what effect?

Language aware citizenship is the theme of the next conference of the Association for Language Awareness, to be held in Amsterdam from 4 to 7 July 2018.


Language aware citizens

"Language is often taken for granted and its possibilities and effects, however interesting, beautiful, or even dangerous, are sometimes overlooked.

In recent elections worldwide, politicians spoke about such issues as education, immigration and the environment and evoked various images to influence public opinion.

In multicultural and digital communities, many languages appear side by side, which have become an important part of people’s interaction, creativity and identity.

In many countries, English is gaining ground as the language of instruction in secondary schools and at universities, which influences both instruction and learning.

These are just some of the many language-related topics affecting our diverse and globalising world. It seems that an awareness of such language issues is pivotal in order to understand each other, to enjoy the rich diversity, and to take part in society effectively."

"Language aware citizens are conscious of attitudes and assumptions that may lie hidden within language used to describe the past, the present as well as the future and they understand the value of society’s linguistic and cultural diversity. Language aware citizens are aware of the role language plays throughout their lives, both private and professional."


Language aware citizenship is the main theme of the 14th international conference of the Association for Language Awareness, to be held at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam from 4 to 7 July 2018.

The submission deadline for abstracts is 30 November 2017.The conference organisers would like to approach the overarching theme of language aware citizenship in a number of subthemes: (1) in education and learning (language of instruction, CLIL, ELF, awareness of language in curriculum design, L1 and L2 learning, language awareness in the classroom, multicultural classrooms, teacher language awareness, school language policy, discourse in and about education, etc.), (2) in culture, community and identity (language variation and diversity, language change, language attitudes, gender issues, minorities, language play and creativity, intercultural communication, (non-)discriminatory use of language, etc.), (3) in politics and the media (rhetorics, framing, the language of policy making, the influence of language in communication, etc.), and (4) in different professions and contexts such as law, medicine, science, religion, Internet, language in the workplace etc.

Association for Language Awareness

The Association of Language Awareness defines language awareness as "explicit knowledge about language, and conscious perception and sensitivity in language learning, language teaching and language use".

"It covers a wide spectrum of fields. For example, language awareness issues include exploring the benefits that can be derived from developing a good knowledge about language, a conscious understanding of how languages work, of how people learn them and use them."

"Language awareness interests also include learning more about what sorts of ideas about language people normally operate with, and what effects these have on how they conduct their everyday affairs: e.g. their professional dealings."

Can we become better language users or learners or teachers if we develop a better understanding? And can we gain other advantages: e.g. in our relations with other people and/or cultures, and in our ability to see through language that manipulates or discriminates?


For more information, see www.ala2018.com.

For further inquiries please contact the conference organisers by email at ala2018conferencegmail.com.

For more information on language awareness and the international association, please visit http://www.languageawareness.org.


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