Language Education for Social Justice: Conference and 37th Summer School of Applied Linguistics

Language Campus, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

June 1–3, 2020



What does social justice have to do with language education? Why do we need to talk about social justice as language teachers, teacher educators, and researchers? 

Nordic countries are often associated with social welfare and strive for egalitarianism. However, linguistic injustice prevail also there, and not all languages and linguistic practices are equal and associated with the same opportunities and privileges in and beyond educational contexts. In addition, linguistic injustices are never just about language. Factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, social class, ability, and sexual orientation are intrinsically linked to language and shape local, national, and international language attitudes, ideologies, and policies. What can researchers and educators do in order to take steps towards a more just field of language education? If the goal of education is to diminish social inequalities and support students in becoming socially conscious, critical, and engaged members of society, what kind of resources, skills, and teacher support is needed to achieve this?

Social justice is not something that can be brought about by an individual, it needs a community, a movement, institutions, and gatherings like this conference. This year, we particularly invite teachers, teacher educators, and researchers interested in language and education to join us in thinking about how to improve language education for all. We hope that as part of this conference, we will discuss questions including but not limited to:

  • How can language education be a space where students and teachers learn together to see and challenge existing patterns of privilege and injustice?
  • What is needed to support teachers in promoting linguistic and cultural equity and equip them to support each other in developing/implementing respective pedagogies?
  • How can research look at and beyond language in education with the goal of being a catalyst for critical thinking, democracy, equity, and peace?
  • How can language education and research support, respect, and better understand each other with the goal of making language education more equal and accessible for all learners?
  • How can both education and research turn a critical eye on themselves to recognize their complicity in perpetuating injustices and learn to do better?


Keynote speakers

Sonia Nieto, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Lou Harvey, University of Leeds

Birgul Yilmaz, University of Westminster

Venla Bernelius, University of Helsinki


Invited workshops

In addition to keynotes, we are organising invited workshops with keynotes and other invited researchers and practitioners. Two of them will be offered by Jenni Alisaari (University of Turku) and Jessica Bradley (University of Sheffield).



We warmly invite teachers, researchers, teacher educators, students, and everyone interested in language education for social justice to submit their proposals. We particularly encourage teachers to submit their contributions of classroom-, school-based, academic and otherwise teaching/learning-related work. Topics can address the conference topic in a multiplicity of ways, for instance as introduction of an urgent issue/question, as project idea or report, as story about school life and experiences, personal review of teaching and learning materials, or observations and opinions about recent developments in schools and education.

We hope for submissions in a variety of formats, and welcome multimodal and/or multilingual submissions:

  • Workshops and colloquia (2h) for practitioners and/or researchers
  • Multimodal formats such as performances and visual representations (e.g., vimeos ...) (30 min)
  • Small group discussions (e.g., fish bowl, debates, dialogues …) (1h)
  • Short speeches and rants (e.g. speaker’s corner, TED-like talks …) (5 min)
  • Papers (30 min)
  • Your own genre (30 min)

Please submit a 300-word description of your planned contribution, including the following information:

  • What is your topic and how does it relate to the conference theme?
  • What is the aim of your contribution?
  • Who do you hope to be your audience (e.g., teachers, researchers …)?

Submission link:

Extended deadline: 15 January  2020 


Co-chairs Johanna Ennser-Kananen and Sari Pöyhönen