MultiLing Winter School 2018: Language policy in multilingual contexts – methodological approaches

The MultiLing winter school 2018 will take place from 5–9 February 2018. This year, we will explore methodological approaches to language policy in multilingual contexts. 

(Photo: Nadia Frantsen/UiO)

Language policy and planning (LPP) as a discipline was initially developed as a part of sociolinguistics and language-in-society studies and emerged as a field of study in the 1960s (Kaplan, Baldauf, Liddicoat, Bryant, Barbaux, and Pütz 2000). Wright (2004) outlines how LPP after WWII, as a result of decolonisation, moved from being primarily an integral part of nation building to a subject of academic enquiry. The structuralist era after WWII laid the foundations of what was to characterise LPP until the critical turn in the social sciences and humanities in the 1970s. Language was seen as a static and delimited entity, an object which could be captured, codified and thus standardised.  Key concepts in linguistics such as mother tongue, speech community, native speaker, linguistic competence and even the term language itself was questioned compelling researchers to take on a critical approach to language policy, underscoring issues of power, identity and highlighting that language policies, though influencing practice, are also deeply embedded in practice (Lane 2014, Hult 2017).  

Language policy may be implicit in the language practices of a community, or compelled by the ideology of a society, or specifically mandated in the activities of an authorized language management agency (King and Shohamy 2002; Spolsky 2009; Barakos, E., & Unger 2016). Language policy may take place on many different levels—both formally through policy making and informally, though language socialisation and practices. Language policy may be seen as an evolving phenomenon shaped and reshaped by discursive practices, which in turn are embedded in the multiple contextual and semiotic resources available in specific social activities and environments (Blommaert et al. 2010). Thus, there is interplay between formal and informal aspects of language policy; social actors are influenced by language policies, which in turn are shaped and challenged by social actors.

In recent research on language policy, an increasing number of researchers use ethnographic and discourse-analytic methods to examine language policy processes as practices, with a focus on how policy texts, ideologies and discourses relate to language practices in schools, families, communities and private businesses (McCarty 2011; Smith-Christmas 2016; Gonçalves and Schluter 2016; King and Lanza 2017). In order to do this, researchers draw on methods from a range of fields (Hult and Johnson 2015), and therefore, the goal of the Winter School is to introduce and evaluate key qualitative methods and introduce and discuss central concepts in the field of language policy, with a particular emphasis on studies in multilingual settings.

All applicants are kindly asked to submit (together with their application) a 250-word description of the data and method(s) that they would like to present for discussion during the course. The students will be asked to give a short presentation introducing a methodological challenge they have encountered and discussing it in the light of relevant publications on the reading list for the course.


Cassie Smith-Christmas (University of Limerick) (external link)

Francis M. Hult (Lund University) (external link)

Pia Lane (MultiLing)


You can read the program here.

Reading list

A preliminary reading list can be found here. The final reading list will be available in January.


The participants must be enrolled in a PhD program in linguistics or a related field of study. Due to limited space we only accept applications from PhD students, and not postdocs. There is no course fee, but participants will have to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses.

LingPhil (Norwegian Graduate Researcher School in Linguistics and Philology) members can apply for travel grant to participate in this course (external link).


The application deadline is Monday 18 December at 10 am (CET). The application form has now closed.  Please note that in addition to the application form we also require that your supervisor sends us a brief recommendation for your attendance at the winter school. This should be emailed to Malene Bøyum ( by the application deadline.



Barakos, E., & Unger, J. W. (Eds.). (2016). Discursive approaches to language policy. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hult, F.M. (2017). Discursive approaches to language policy. In S.E.F. Wortham, D. Kim, & S. May (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language and education (vol.: Discourse and education; pp. 111–121).  New York: Springer.

King, K. & Lanza, E.  (Eds.). Ideology, agency, and imagination in Multilingual families. Special issue. International Journal of Bilingualism

King, K. & Shohamy, E. (2002). Editorial. Language Policy. 1(1):1–2.

Lane (2014) Nexus Analysis. In: Östman & Verschueren (Eds.). Handbook of Pragmatics. John Benjamins:

McCarty, T. (Ed.). (2011). Ethnography and language policy. London: Routledge.

Spolsky, B. (2009). Language management. New York: Cambridge University Press.



Pia Lane
Published Nov. 15, 2017 11:47 AM - Last modified Mar. 17, 2020 1:08 PM