Call for Papers UKLA 56th International Conference

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

Call for Papers 2020

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 ideas 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.

We invite proposals for workshops, research papers and symposia. We encourage those who wish to be playful with approaches to presenting and involving participants. Please note, following the success from last year, individual research papers may be grouped into sessions.

We invite all those currently engaged in postgraduate programmes of research (Masters, EdD, PHD) to contribute to our Postgraduate Research Student Slam which will feature brief presentations of work in progress.

We anticipate that themes explored through the conference will include:

  • -Literacy education in early years, primary, secondary, FE, HE
  • -Literacies in a variety of educational settings (schools, museums, libraries, etc.)
  • -Literacies in everyday lives
  • -Talk, spoken language and oracy: exploring the terms
  • -Play, improvisation and exploratory approaches to talk
  • -Playful teaching, playful learning and centrality of talk
  • -Language play
  • -Children’s and young people’s literature
  • -Collaboration, participation and community
  • -Language and learning
  • -Barriers to ‘spoken’ language
  • -Role play, drama and theatre in education
  • -Social equity and inclusive approaches
  • -Critical literacy, active citizenship and children’s voice
  • -Literacy policy and politics: local, regional, national and international
  • -Popular culture
  • -Creativity, authorship and production
  • -Digital media, including film, social media, gaming
  • -Alternate, augmented and virtual reality
  • -Literacy and the creative, expressive and performing arts
  • -Meaning making and multimodality
  • -Multilingualism and multiliteracies
  • -Literacy pedagogy, curriculum, assessment
  • -Research methodologies for literacies research

Acceptance criteria

UKLA receives many more proposals than can be accommodated, so uses the following criteria to make decisions about which proposals to accept.

  • The proposal links clearly with the theme of the conference
  • The proposal is of high quality and of interest to the audience who attend the annual UKLA international conferences ( see below)
  • The proposal does not seek to endorse or sell published materials
  • The abstract is precisely written, as you would wish it printed in the conference brochure, and does not exceed 200 words (600 words for symposia and slams)
  • The proposal is received by the deadline of 31st December 2019


Proposals need to take into account the nature of the delegates who attend our conferences. These include:

  • the research community, mainly working in HE, (primary and secondary)
  • independent consultants in the field of language and literacy
  • subject advisers from Local Authorities in the UK
  • teachers/head teachers with a particular interest in literacy and learning for all age ranges

Presenters must make sure they include at least 5-10 minutes for discussion to enable participants to engage actively in the session.

The audience is an international one; proposals should avoid an ‘anglo-centric’ tone.

The deadline for submissions will be 31 December, and we will inform those who have submitted proposals of the outcome in February 2020.

We look forward to welcoming you for an inspiring conference.

Types of Sessions

There are five types of session to choose from when submitting your call for papers. Please choose the most appropriate session for your presentation when you complete your form. The types of sessions include:

  • Workshop: An active participatory learning experience, delegates are given tasks to do and discussion may be encouraged. Formal Elements will be kept to a minimum. (40 mins)
  • Seminar Presentation: An argument will be presented and development; this could be based on research and will facilitate a focussed seminar discussion. (40 mins)
  • Research Report: A report of completed or ongoing research will be given with the theoretical perspectives unpinning this work. Discussion time will be included.(40 mins)
  • Symposium: A panel of speakers, each of whom will give a short presentation on a common topic which they will then discuss, inviting audience participation. (80 mins)
  • Postgraduate Research Student Slam: Session featuring multiple brief presentations of research in progress, open to all those engaged in postgraduate programmes of research (Masters, EdD, PHD) 

Find out more about the conference.