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Research Talk: "Enhancing teaching practices: towards a more inclusive spoken and written language teaching in Merseyside schools and beyond".

Language and Society
research talks
Wednesday 8 November 2023, 4-5pm
School of English, Seminar Room 5 (House 10) + Teams

Title: Enhancing teaching practices: towards a more inclusive spoken and written language teaching in Merseyside schools and beyond.

Speaker: Dr Sofia Lampropoulou – University of Liverpool


The English language curriculum is heavily oriented towards the teaching of standard and prestigious forms of English language. These include standardised ways of speaking and writing. In the UK, there is an established body of research uncovering the links between language teaching practices and raciolinguistic ideological perspectives (Cushing, 2022; Snell& Cushing, 2021) which result in the marginalisation of the speakers/writers who do not conform to a perceived ‘standard’, creating, thus, class, race and gender divides.

In this talk, I will present two strands of research underpinning an impact case study under development on the indexicalities of Scouse and on gender and “good” writing in Merseyside school settings. As part of ‘the social meanings of Scouse’ project, we investigated teacher and student engagement with Scouse through classroom interaction and interview data in grammar schools at the Wirral. Our findings show that both teachers and students place Scouse in lower scale levels of indexicality (Blommaert, 2010) and strictly dissociate it from academic attainment. In doing so, they construct themselves as competitive in the educational marketplace (Grainger, 2013), fully conforming to the raciolinguistic ideologies sustained in the classroom. As part of the ‘‘good’ writing and the gender-gap project’, we analysed focus groups discussions with teachers and educational stakeholders in Liverpool. We explored how writing attainment is represented along gender axes and unfolded the ways in which teachers and stakeholders perceive and determine the writing of pupils through a gendered linguistic ideological lens (Inoue, 2003).

I will then discuss the impact of a sample of teaching materials we have pilot tested in Liverpool classrooms with the aim to diversify and enhance teaching practices towards a more inclusive English language teaching. I will conclude by reflecting on the milestones and the challenges involved with interpreting sociolinguistics research in terms of societal/educational benefit, as part of my ongoing pathway to impact.