LAGB Education Sessions

These special sessions on ‘linguistics at school’ occupy a two-hour slot in every annual LAGB conference. They are held between 4.00 and 6.00 in the second or third afternoon of a regular LAGB meeting. Unlike all other parts of LAGB conferences, they are open to anyone without payment of the usual conference fee.

For more information about the conference venue – e.g. how to get there – see the second circular for the conference on the LAGB web site or on the site indicated below.

Historical note: This series of meetings, under the aegis of the Education Committee, followed an earlier series called the ‘Educational Linguistics section‘, which was started in September 1983.

27.  The drop in uptake of English Language A-level

September 11, 2019, 16.30-18.30, @ QMUL

Session organiser/chair: Eva Eppler

Speakers: Willem Holman, Diane Leedham, David Duff, Michelle Sheehan, David Duff, Devyani Shama

In this year’s LAGB EC session we will discuss potential reasons for the drop in uptake of English A-level, particularly the enrolment in English Language and English Language and Literature.

  • Willem Hollman, Lancaster University, is going to explore the Russell Group’s facilitating subjects list in the broader context of trends in A-level uptake and UCAS applications. Handout
  • Diane Leedham, NALDIC, will address the role the new GCSE seems to play in this trend.  Handout
  • David Duff, CEF, will supply context on A-level enrolments/ university admissions and how these are monitored within other branches of English. He will furthermore present the Common English Forum position statement on the topic.
  • Michelle Sheehan is going to report on the Department for Education’s response to it. Slideshow
  • Devyani Sharma will talk about her experience with working sociolinguistics into the school curriculum. Slideshow
  • Dick Hudson will introduce the session with some historical background. Slideshow

One slot will be reserved for discussion of further reasons for the drop in uptake of English Language A level and what the LAGB EC and other bodies can do to address them.

26. The UK Linguistics Olympiad (4.30-6.30 Thurs 13 Sept 2018, University of Sheffield)

Chair: Gary C Wood (Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy) [replaced at the last minute by Hannah Leach]


  • Babette Verhoeven (Test development team)  University of Huddersfield: powerpoint slides
  • Graeme Trousdale & Trevor Beers (Training team) Edinburgh University: powerpoint slides
  • Neil Sheldon (Events team): powerpoint slides
  • Ben Randall Shaw (Westminster School) and Sarah O’Keeffe (UKLO participants)

Organiser: Eva Duran Eppler


We would like to use this year’s LAGB EC session to celebrate the UK teams’ achievements in the Linguistics Olympiad over the past nine years, identify factors that have contributed to this success, and build a forward strategy, particularly on how we can support state school teachers in their efforts to involve students. We have invited a gold medal winner, Sam Ahmed, and members of the test development (Babette Newsome), training (Graeme Trousdale) and events (Neil Sheldon) groups to outline how problem sets are developed and tested, how participating schools are supported, participants are trained, how the events leading up to the Olympiad are organized and how medals are won. In a plenary discussion we would like to pool ideas for a forward strategy on how to involve state schools in UKLO and how to bridge the gap between schools and linguistics in Higher Education.

  • 2017: 3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Team trophy, 2 Team other (2 teams)
  • 2016: 2 Gold, 2 Bronze, 1 other (1 team)
  • 2015:  2 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze, 1 Team, 3 other (2 teams)
  • 2014: 1 Gold, 1 other (1 team)
  • 2013: 1 Silver, 5 other (2 teams)
  • 2012: 1 Silver, 3 Bronze (1 team)
  • 2011: 1 Bronze, 1 other (1 team)
  • 2010: 1 Bronze, 3 other (1 team)
  • 2009: 1 Bronze (1 team)

25. Grammar teaching across the curriculum (Weds 6 Sept 2017, University of Kent at Canterbury)

This year’s LAGB Education session builds on what we explored in 2014 and 2015 and focuses on grammar teaching across the curriculum at secondary school level in a national and international context.

  • Background
    • “Almen Sprogforståelse”, an interdisciplinary grammar course taught in Danish upper secondary education will be presented in more detail than in 2014. Based on data generated from students’ final tests and interviews about their learning, Sofie Ljungbo Jensen will introduce how exercises in analysis of morphology and syntax are aimed at increasing students’ awareness of structures in their own language and connections between languages (Danish, Latin, English, German, French and Spanish).
  • Programme
    • Ian Cushing will discuss how secondary school English teachers can make use of cognitive stylistics and literary linguistics in their pedagogical practice. His discussion will be based on data generated from a series of KS3 lessons, exploring the potential of a fully-contextualised and ‘concept-driven’ approach to the teaching of grammar and how this compares with Almen Sprogforståelse.
    • Jessica Clapham, Susan Chapman and Lise Fontaine are going to introduce the LLAWEN Metalinguistic Awareness Mentoring project which seeks to equip teachers with the confidence and skills to successfully implement the grammar component of the new Welsh embedded literacy curriculum in secondary schools. The speakers will discuss the pros and cons of ‘properties and categories’ and ‘functional’ approaches to grammar teaching.
    • In a round table and plenary discussion the three proposals for teaching grammar across the curriculum at secondary school level will be compared to elicit how the Danish, English and Welsh projects can mutually benefit from each other.
  • Notes from the meeting

24.Communicating with other worlds: Formal linguistic second language acquisition research and language teaching (8th Sept 2016, York University)

[In contrast with previous sessions, this one will run from 4 to 6 pm.]


Formal linguistic second language acquisition research and the practice of language teaching share the same focus, namely the development of non-native language knowledge. Yet interactions between these two endeavours are rare. One practical reason for this is the absence of forums for such interaction. For example, conferences tend to be either research-focussed or profession-focussed. Another reason is that formal linguistic SLA research has not been widely communicated in non-technical language. We take the view that there are a lot of findings from this body of research that would be useful and informative for language teachers, and that the research community should take up the challenge to disseminate findings in an accessible way for