AILA Solidarity Award won by PhD student Mingdan Wu

Mingdan Wu, a third-year PhD candidate supervised by Dr Alfonso Del Percio received an AILA Solidarity Award to attend the AILA 2021 World Congress, which was announced in the opening ceremony on Sunday 15 July 2021.

AILA (Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée or International Association of Applied Linguistics) received 90 submissions and Mingdan was one of just 26 applicants to win this award. The title of the abstract of the presentation is “Doing solidarity: language and race in spaces of otherwise”. 

Congratulations, Mingdan, on this remarkable achievement!

Talia Isaacs’ research highlighted in IOE News: diversity in health research and vaccine hesitancy

In July, IOE News featured a story on the need to prioritise diversity in UK health research, highlighting the work of our own Talia Isaacs. As a project team member, Talia’s work focuses on issues associated with inclusivity for those in the UK from other language backgrounds. She emphasises the need to go further than translation of documents to also include sustainable approaches to clearer communication such as involving bilingual health care works, interpreters, and cultural tailoring of information. Read the story here:

And today, an ESRC-funded project was announced on vaccine hesitancy involving 13 universities as well as community organisations and small and medium size enterprises, with Talia joining as the UCL project member. The project is called ‘Collaboration for change: Promoting vaccine uptake’, for which the ESRC has provided £80,000. This is part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19. Read the story here:

We congratulate Talia on these remarkable achievements and look forward to the outcomes!

PhD student Rommy Anabalon Schaaf a winner in the Research Images as Art Competition

We are very proud to announce that our own Rommy Anabalon Schaaf (PhD supervisors: John O’Regan and Alfonso Del Percio) has won a runner-up prize (£200) for this year’s Research Images as Art Competetion with her graphite drawing ‘Women and Mothers’. Rommy explains that the drawing was made to help observe her research subject in more detail, as due to the pandemic, communication has been restricted to video calls and messages. Rommy says, “While drawing the portrait, I realised that I was not only observing her, but also doing analysis. With every line on the paper I was reflecting on her life…”

Congratulations, Rommy!

Read more about the competition here:

Language, Informed Consent, and Inclusivity in Medical Research and Practice: An IC4CH and UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics webinar – summary, slides & key references

It is well-established that certain groups in the population – for example poorer, immigrant, indigenous, and ethnic minority communities – are under-recruited in clinical trials and their health needs underrepresented in medical research and practice. This has been particularly highlighted during the pandemic, where groups at greater risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19, were often not included sufficiently in studies related to the virus in the UK (NIHR)[1]. The reasons for this inequality are complex and systemic and include a linguistic and cultural dimension.

To discuss some of these issues and explore their manifestations in different parts of the world, the UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics hosted the second webinar of the International Consortium for Communication in Healthcare (IC4CH) on the topic of ‘Language, Informed Consent, and Inclusivity in Medical Research and Practice’. The event was chaired by Prof. Lorraine Noble (University College London, UK) and 126 individuals joined us from 28 countries around the world. Here we share a brief summary, the slides and key references.

Countries from which attendees joined the event

The talks began with Dr Zsófia Demjén (University College London) asking ‘What does it take to understand information sheets and consent forms in clinical trials related to cancer?’ She outlined a small-scale study (Isaacs et al. 2020) showing that there are many aspects of the language of patient information sheets and consent forms in randomised controlled trials that use complex or ambiguous language, and that comprehension challenges for prospective research participants  might be compounded when considering that the two documents need to be read together. Dr Olya Zayts (Hong Kong University) followed on with a presentation on the process of verbal consent, or consent-in-interaction, and the complexities that arise when multiple cultures and generations are in the room together. She reported on a study (Zayts and Hui, forthcoming) showing that ‘linguistic uncertainty’, related to language proficiency, and ‘topical uncertainty’ (limitations in genetic knowledge) may get conflated and challenge interpersonal and professional trust, which can in-turn have an adverse effect on informed consent. Dr Talia Isaacs (University College London) then looked at the issue of inclusion as an ethical imperative when findings about the safety and effectiveness of a new medical treatment need to generalise to people in a society who might not be easy to recruit. She highlighted signs that the times may finally be right for these issues to be given priority in the political and funding landscapes. After introducing two recent initiatives in the UK (NIHR INCLUDE Initiative (Witham et al., 2020) and INCLUDE Ethnicity Framework (Treweek et al., 2021)), she pointed to a small  project funded by the NIHR-MRC Trials Methodology Research Partnership aiming to explore how language-related eligibility criteria (e.g. ‘must speak English’) are enacted when making patient inclusion/exclusion decisions during trial recruitment in the UK. Our final speaker, Prof. Christine Philips (Australian National University), focused on cohort studies and noted that some of the issues highlighted thus far are complicated by the iterative consenting process in such longitudinal research. It requires increased long-term commitment (including investment) and trust. She then introduced a recent cohort study (Mother and Child 2020) where, despite best efforts, key target populations were still systematically being underrecruited due to language and literacy issues. She reflected on how a new strategy with more involvement from the community is showing more promise.

If anyone is interested in taking discussions further to please get in touch with the speakers individually, and/or sign up to the IC4CH mailing list. The details are in the appended slide-deck.


Isaacs, T., Murdoch, J., Demjén, Z. and Stevenson, F. (2020) Examining the language demands of ethical materials in patient recruitment to cancer trials using tools from corpus and computational linguisticsHealth: an interdisciplinary journal for the social study of health, illness and medicine. [additional resources here]

Treweek, S., Banister, K., Bower, P., Cotton, S., Devane, D., Gardner, H. R., Isaacs, T., Nestor, G., Oshisanya, A., Parker, A., Rochester, L., Soulsby, I., Williams, H., & Witham, M. D. (2021). Developing the INCLUDE Ethnicity Framework: A tool to help trialists design trials that better reflect the communities they serve. Trials, 22(1), 337.

Witham, M. D., Anderson, E., Carroll, C., Dark, P. M., Down, K., Hall, A. S., Knee, J., Maier, R. H., Mountain, G. A., Nestor, G., Oliva, L., Prowse, S. R., Tortice, A., Wason, J., Rochester, L., (2020). Developing a roadmap to improve trial delivery for under-served groups: results from a UK multi-stakeholder process. Trials, 21(1), 694.

Zayts, O. & Hui, HY. (forthcoming). Informed consent-in-interaction in intercultural genetic counselling. In: Crichton J. & Martin, G., eds., Handbook in Intercultural Communication in Healthcare. Mouton de Gruyter.

[1] NIHR research ethnicity data provides insight on participation in COVID-19 studies [Internet]. [cited 2021 Mar 16]. Available from:

John O’Regan’s Global English and Political Economy book launch video now on YouTube

Watch the video recording of John O’Regan’s Global English and Political Economy book launch, 16 July 2021.

The book launch for Professor John O’Regan’s book Global English and Political Economy (Routledge, 2021) took place on Zoom on Friday 16th July, 2021, 2.00-3.00pm (London), hosted by Professor John Gray. In addition to professors O’Regan and Gray, other contributors included Professor Li Wei, IOE Director, and Professor David Block, ICREA Professor in Sociolinguistics at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona and the Editor of the book series in which John O’Regan’s book appears. The Q&A with attendees is included at the end of the video.

A practical ethnopoetics: In honour of Jan Blommaert – Jenny Van der Aa (University of Leuven)

UCL IoE & IMMRC KU Leuven Seminar

Monday, July 19, 6 PM U.K. Time (London)/ 7 PM CET Time (Amsterdam)

Ethnopoetics belongs to the people. It is a democratic way to organize otherwise inaccessible data, from situations where different systems of meaning-making meet. In this workshop Jenny Van der Aa, one of Jan Blommaert’s co-operators since 2001, will offer ways of defining lines and stanzas in order to understand people’s voice. Along these lines, she will bring to the table a restorative philology that restores an original voice otherwise unheard. Examples will be drawn from Jan’s work as well as from recent digital data. 

Discussant: Aone van Engelenhoven (Leiden University)

Jenny Van der Aa is senior researcher (PhD Tilburg University, 2012) at the University of Leuven working on issues of multiliteracies among newcomers in Antwerp. She was a recipient of the APS Library Award (2010) and as such researched the Dell Hymes Papers, drawing genealogies from Hymesian ethnopoetics to Jan Blommaert’s work and others.

Aone van Engelenhoven is a University Lecturer at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies and has worked extensively with Hymesian ethnopoetics.

We hope to see you there!


Passcode: 3Yr0u6​​

Book Launch Webinar: John O’Regan, Global English and Political Economy, Friday 16th July, 2.00-3.00pm (London)

John O’Regan is delighted to invite you to the book launch for his recent book Global English and Political Economy (O’Regan, 2021). Please join John O’Regan and John Gray on Friday 16th July, from 2.00-3.00pm (London), via Zoom, using the Zoom webinar link below. Also contributing will be David Block (Routledge Book Series Editor) and Li Wei (IOE Director).

In this book, John O’Regan examines the role of political economy in the worldwide spread of English and traces the origins and development of the dominance of English to the endless accumulation of capital in a capitalist world-system. More on the book here

All welcome!

Spotlight on Prof Li Wei in his first day as Director-Dean of UCL Institute of Education

We are so incredibly proud of our former Centre Director, Prof Li Wei, who today is officially the UCL Institute of Education’s Director and Dean. UCL News presented this spotlight, highlighting Li Wei’s early childhood bilingualism research, and for fun, music recommendations, facourite joke and even his favourite city. Click here to find out!

Professor Li Wei elected to the Academia Europaea

As incoming Dean and Director of the UCL Institute of Education, it was announced today that Li Wei was elected to the Academia Europaea (AE), as one of 366 international scholars elected this year. The Academia Europaea is the pan-European academy of science, humanities and letters, with over 4,000 elected members from all countries of Europe and all disciplines, nationalities and geographical locations.

Li Wei adds this prestigious AE membership to his list of accomplishments including winning the British Association of Applied Linguistics Book Prize twice, serving as Chair of the University Council of General and Applied Linguistics (UCGAL) between 2012 and 2015, and his Fellowship of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Read the full announcment on the UCL Institute of Education website.

Congratulations, Li Wei!