Languaging in the UK post-Brexit: a call to arms?

Joanna McPake, Fiona Copland

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In 2003, Pratt published a paper in Profession in which she took to task misconceptions about multilingualism and language learning she felt were apparent in the USA in the wake of 9/11 and proposed a manifesto to ensure better public understandings of the value of languages. In this presentation, we draw on Pratt’s framework to present an original analysis of the ecology of languages and language learning in the UK. We argue that many current understandings are not based on facts but on powerful discourses. We suggest that Brexit provides a significant ‘watershed’ in terms of languages and language learning, and an opportunity to consider how discourses can be changed so that the benefits that languages bring to the economic, social and cultural life of the nation are recognised and valued. Our discussion, theoretically informed by Bourdieu's concepts of symbolic, cultural, social and linguistic capital, and by Blackledge's (2005) theorisation of discourses of multilingualism, concludes by setting an agenda for applied linguists, who we argue should be at the forefront of creating a new public idea about language.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sep 2019
EventInternational Conference: TLANG2 - Languaging in Times of Change - University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Sep 201927 Sep 2019


ConferenceInternational Conference: TLANG2 - Languaging in Times of Change
Abbreviated titleTLANG2 Stirling Uni 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • multilingualism
  • language
  • language learning


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