This page is for information about events relevant to teaching language and literature. Please do send us details of events you’d like to promote, and any reports of useful events you’ve attended – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another great resource for publicising your events is The Lecture List: http://www.lecturelist.org
This is a free service for organisers to list events (originally supported by NESTA) which does very well on search engines and is a great way to attract an audience.
CLiC Dickens Celebration Event
In December, Marcello Giovanelli spoke about the Integrating English project and The Definite Article at the CLiC Dickens end of project event, held to celebrate the work the CLiC team has undertaken in setting up their corpus software for use by researchers and teachers. The software makes available searchable corpora including texts by Charles Dickens, a collection of 19th century children’s literature and work by other authors. It demonstrates how computer-assisted methods can be used to study literary texts and lead to new insights into how readers perceive fictional characters. The event was very well-attended with a mixture of secondary and higher education colleagues, and all delegates received a pack of teaching ideas based on CLiC to use in the classroom. In the evening, there was a talk by Dr Caroline Radcliffe (University of Birmingham) on Dickens and the theatre and a reading by Simon Vaughan of the ‘Sikes and Nancy’ scene in Oliver Twist. You can read a full review of the event here.
English Shared Futures
In July, we attended the English: Shared Futures Conference in Newcastle. The conference brought together teachers, researchers, publishers and writers working in different phases and areas of English to embrace the different interests that the subject community has and to explore exciting new ways of working together in the future. We ran two sessions at the conference, one of which was a seminar where participants discussed how best to share good practice in teaching, learning and research among colleagues working in schools and in universities. This session generated interesting examples of ways in which good practice can be shared. Those who attended shared their experiences of work they had undertaken with colleagues in the secondary sector through various kinds of models and relationships.
Academics in the Classroom
On 15-16 August 2016, over 50 teachers, academics, and other interested members of the English community gathered at Hertford College, Oxford, for an intensive workshop focused on research-led English outreach.
This event provided training, networking, and a space for discussion and reflection for teachers and early career researchers interested in how universities can deliver research-led English language and literature outreach work. researchers and current teachers of Key Stage 4 and 5 English worked collaboratively at a two-day workshop structured around a series of talks, reflective roundtable discussions, and forums.
Details of the day and the Academics in the Classroom project can be found here
We were delighted to present on our Integrating English project. You can view our talk here!
A report on 'New Aspects of A Level English'
A one-day conference run by the English Association, 5th October 2015, Senate House, London.
This event brought together school teachers and university lecturers to review the new English A levels, and share views, experiences, questions and concerns. The organizers - the English Association’s University Admissions and Transition Group - invited the Integrating English team to contribute to the event, leading breakout sessions and as part of the closing Q&A panel. 61 delegates attended including representatives of NATE, the EMC and several of the awarding bodies. The programme involved three guest lectures by university lecturers, one on integrated language and literature approaches and two on literature (on contemporary research on Shakespeare and on 21st century literature). Three breakout sessions also facilitated group discussion of three key issues:
teaching ‘post-2000 literature’ in the Literature and Language and Literature A levels,
teaching ‘the unseen’ in each of the A levels, and
‘teaching language’ in the Language and Literature A level.
The event closed with a Q&A session with a panel of breakout group facilitators (including one of the Integrating English team), guest lecturers, and representatives of examining bodies and the English Association.
While many questions and issues arose throughout the day, we felt that the following were most significant to integrated language and literature approaches:
The new Language and Literature A level was felt by many delegates to be both stronger and more genuinely integrated than the previous A level.
The attending teachers of the Language and Literature A level had predominantly been trained in either Literature or Language at degree level, and so felt less confident in the subject than in other strands of English, though several reported that the resources supporting the new A levels were very helpful in addressing this.
Some teachers of the Language and Literature A level were continuing to teach a conventionally ‘literary-theoretic’ approach to literary texts, and a ‘linguistic’ approach to non-literary texts.
Teachers said access to high-quality resources was really important to them in delivering new specifications.
Transition remained a real concern for teachers. They felt that there was insufficient language study at Key Stage 3 and 4 to equip students for language study at Key Stage 5 (within the Language or Language and Literature A level). They also felt that the recent removal of spoken language study from GCSE specifications was detrimental for all students (whether or not they continued onto Key Stage 5 language and/or literature study).
Some teachers expressed a desire to continue to develop their subject knowledge, but reported that lack of time was a disabling factor. These teachers felt that quickly digestible, ‘bite-size’ resources were needed. Our work on The Definite Article blog (http://thedefinitearticle.aqa.org.uk/) aims to help address this.
Some teachers reported feeling that the Language and Literature A level was still the easiest of the three, giving the reasons that there were fewer texts, and weaker students were more supported than in the other A levels by the clearer concepts and methods. Other teachers felt that the A level both supported weaker students and challenged stronger students, enabling all to fulfil their potential.
Some teachers reported that universities saw the Language and Literature A level as the easiest of the three A levels, and some believed it to be excluded from some entry criteria. A university lecturer from a Russell Group university and another from a new university contradicted this.
Across each of the three English A levels, teachers were concerned with teaching matters of ‘form’ in relation to prose, and with whether or not students were entering English degree programmes with good essay writing skills.
We noticed that there was no guest lecturer addressing Language issues, none of the breakout sessions accommodated concerns specific to the Language A level, and the session advertised as on ‘Teaching Language’ related to teaching language within the integrated A level. This is perhaps suggestive of systemic problems with the place and perception of language and integrated language and literature approaches within English studies.
The event provided an excellent opportunity for teachers and university lecturers to come together and share perceptions and concerns. Though teachers were only weeks into the new A levels, and were still adjusting, the overall consensus seemed to be that the new A levels (across the awarding bodies) are a positive and progressive step forwards. Teachers remained troubled, though, by issues around co-teachability and the possibility of a university entrance test in the place of AS level results.
The ‘take home’ points for the Integrating English team were that
teachers really want bitesize open-access teaching support resources. We’re trying to help meet this need with our ‘research digests’ and teaching suggestions at The Definite Article blog.
the Language and Literature A level is still misunderstood and misperceived by many, and this needs to change. We’re exploring ways of tackling this tricky issue, and the English Association is keen to help.
More information about the English Association, this event and future events can be found at http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/english-association
If you’d like to comment on any of the issues mentioned above, we’d really appreciate your input and feedback. Feel free to email us at with any thoughts.
Corpus Stylistics Workshop for A-level teachers
On Monday 16th November 2015, over twenty teachers attended this AQA-organised event designed to support teachers in applying corpus methods in the classroom. The session was led by Professor Michaela Mahlberg (University of Birmingham) and Professor Peter Stockwell (University of Nottingham), who both spoke at our symposium in Oxford in 2015.
During the session, teachers learnt about the free online tool CLiC and discussed and explored how this might be used in their classrooms to support learning and teaching. Although the primary focus was on nineteenth-century fiction, delegates were also shown how to use corpus tools to analyse a range of discourse types.
Teachers were incredibly enthusiastic about the day, stating that they liked the practical nature of the activities and the opportunity both to talk to other teachers and to get a higher education perspective on research that was truly cutting edge.
Some further comments below from teachers give a flavour of the positive feedback and show how successful the session was!
‘This session has showed me new exciting ways of teaching language patterns to students’
‘It provided a really new way to look at texts –Michaela and Peter introduced corpus terminology and concepts in a practical way’
‘When teaching the NEA, I will definitely make use of it’
‘Very relevant to actual classroom practice, I am a huge Dickens fan so that focus was a great bonus’
Overall, the day was a massive success; in reply to the question ‘What could we do to improve such sessions in the future’ one teacher simply answered ‘More of them’!
You can find out more about the CLiC project here
Some photos from the day
used with permission of College of Arts and Law, University of Birmingham