Achilleas Kostoulas

Applied Linguistics & Language Teacher Education

Fractal patterns against a blue background

Recognizing complexity in language learning and teaching

About this post: This is a post advertising an academic event about language education that took place in 2014. Most of the content is no longer current, and is retained here for archival purposes. You can find more up-to-date information about upcoming academic events and publication opportunities in this page

Update: I was delighted to take part in this conference. My presentation is summarised in the following post:

An overview of the conference itself can be found in the post below:

Call for papers

The Language Learning and Teaching Special Interest Group of the British Association of Applied Linguistics are holding their 10th Annual Conference at the University of Leeds. The topic of the conference is “Recognising Complexity”, and taps into the rich potential Complex Systems Theory has to offer in theorising the interrelations between language, society and the individual. As stated in the conference announcement:

Everywhere we look in language education, things seem to be getting more complex. Once it seemed we had a manageable set of individual differences to distinguish learners; now, recognizing them as whole persons, we see an almost infinite array of attributes, identities and trajectories.  Regarding learning activities, we long ago abandoned the search for a one-size-fits-all methodology for language teaching but the pedagogic options continue to multiply and the potential subject matter of the syllabus keeps expanding. We know teaching must fit the context, but on close inspection the classroom is found to be irreducibly complex too, and is often just one node in a network of communities relevant for learning. And in the broader context of language development and use, communities which were once largely monolingual are now ‘superdiverse’.

What are teachers to do? Will continued research in language education inevitably complexify matters further? Or is it producing insights that can genuinely help teachers and learners? Are there theories, new or old, which offer hope of greater clarity in our understanding of learning and teaching processes?

Confirmed Plenary Speakers

  • Adrian Holliday, Canterbury Christ Church University
  • Sarah Mercer, Karl-Franzens University Graz, Austria
  • Pauline Foster, St Mary’s University College Twickenham

Call for papers

Contributions are invited for 20-minute presentations (+10 minutes discussion) and posters broadly addressing the conference theme. Interested participants are asked to send a 250-word abstract by Sunday 23rd March 2014 to baalsig2014[at]


Conference registration will open in the spring of 2014, at which time conference fees will be confirmed. Fees are likely to be as follows:

  • BAAL members: £135.00
  • Non-BAAL members:  £155.00
  • Student/unwaged: £110.00
  • Conference dinner: £35.00

Bed & breakfast accommodation at less than £40/night will be available on campus.

Additional information

Additional information about the conference venue, accommodation and other events can be found at the conference website. Inquiries may be addressed to:

  • Martin Lamb (m.v.lamb[at]
  • Richard Badger (r.g.badger[at] or
  • James Simpson (j.e.b.simpson[at]


Featured Image: Fractal flame (Wikipedia), CC BY-SA






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