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UKLA 56th International Conference

"We need to talk about literacy": Why spoken language matters in literacy learning and teaching.


After much deliberation, UKLA has taken the decision to postpone its 2020 International Conference. The conference will now take place from 2nd to 4th July 2021 in Oxford. The venue will remain the same and we are delighted to announce that so far Mariana Souto-Manning, Muna Abdi, Phillip Pullman, Neil Mercer and MG Leonard have all confirmed that they will be able to give keynotes.

Information for Presenters:

We invite all our 2020 presenters to deliver a session at the conference in 2021 and to participate as per the original programme. If for any reason this is not possible for you, please let us know so that we can remove your session from the programme and make room for someone else.

We will accept minor changes to your original abstracts and we will email you in due course to ask you to check your abstracts and make any necessary changes.

Call for Papers:

If you would like to present entirely new material then you will be invited to submit a new proposal in the autumn when we issue a Call for Papers.

Ticket and Accommodation Refunds:

If you have already purchased a ticket and accommodation for the conference this year and would like a refund, we can arrange this with no fees. Please advise our financial administrator Katie and she will process the refund as soon as possible.

However, if you would like to keep your ticket and accommodation booking for the conference next year, that is fine and you do not have to do anything. We would only ask that if you are unable to pay an outstanding invoices for the conference that you let Katie know so that we don’t unnecessarily chase you for payment.

If you have any queries, please get in touch with us



With assessment of reading and writing, high on the political agenda, spoken language can sometimes be neglected, yet it is central to our personal, social, cultural, cognitive, creative and imaginative development. Spoken language allows us to negotiate, reason, justify, reflect, hypothesise, predict, explain, argue and create possibilities. In other words, spoken language is central not only to the development of the whole person, it is essential to processes of learning.

In this conference, through reflecting on research and practice, we will consider literacy in relation to spoken language. We will explore, for example, the purpose and function of spoken language; spoken language repertoires as the basis of reading and writing; its specific features as distinct from written language; its transient nature; home language and dialect, including translanguaging; and the role of language in drama, creativity and imagination. In addition the conference will include contributions from educators who work with learners for whom spoken language is not the first medium of communication, where talk is characterised as a spontaneous exchange of idea through multiple modes and media including, but not exclusively, language.

By reclaiming talk as the basis of literacy, this conference will invite delegates to consider the relationships between talk, language and literacy. It will explore how, as teachers, researchers and literacy advocates, we consider the contribution of language to learning as well as recognising its unique and distinct place in the development of identity. The conference will also make space for delegates themselves to enjoy spoken language – through poetry, storytelling and, crucially, through the rich conversations generated by gathering together to talk about literacy.

Confirmed speakers:


Professor Mariana Souto-Manning: Associate Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University and Chair of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Research Foundation (USA).

Dr Muna Abdi: Lecturer, researcher and poet


Neil Mercer: Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge

Philip Pullman: Best selling Author

M. G. Leonard: Multi-award winning, bestselling, children’s author who loves invertebrates.



Michael Rosen: Professor of Children’s Literature, Goldmiths University of London, Author and Poet, and BookTrust Children’s Laureate 2007 – 2009.


The atmosphere was vibrant and friendly, it has been a great experience and I’m looking forward to the next conference in Oxford!” 2019 International Conference participant.

Event Location

Jury's Inn, Godstow Rd, Oxford

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