Mar 15, 2024: Simon Coffey

March 1, 2024

Sparking the imagination: Creative connectivity and emotional investment in language learning

Dr Simon Coffey

King’s College London

There has been an extraordinary rise of interest in the use of ‘emotion’ and ‘creativity’ as leitmotivs in language learning research and teaching. I begin this talk by briefly reviewing some developments of these terms in language education scholarship (including two recent special issues I jointly guest-edited), before then presenting some approaches I have developed, including a series of workshop activities with teachers in London designed in collaboration with an artist-educator. The aim of our workshop, and other activities I have developed, is to increase emotional investment through imaginatively forging connections across semiotic and experiential domains. My particular focus is on acknowledging first person multilingual subjectivity and how this acknowledgement can be translated into pedagogy. As broad concepts ‘emotion’ and ‘creativity’ have developed different meanings according to educational setting and ontological framing. Language lessons in many K-12 classrooms, for instance, remain constructed as instructional spaces where learners are narrowly ‘objectified’, in Foucault’s sense, by pedagogical conventions and institutional structures as acquirers of functional linguistic competence. In developing teachers’ confidence to engage with more creative approaches that respect the wider affective ecology of learners’ experience, it is therefore important to consider the constraints of macro-(national) and micro-(institutional) structures, not simply as repressive forces but as constitutive relations within which learners-as-subjects can be transformed.

Friday, March 15, 2024
B-4 Dwinelle & via Zoom, 3-5 pm
This lecture is sponsored by the College of Letters and Science.


Simon Coffey picture

I am an applied linguist and teacher educator at King’s College London, where I am director of our initial teacher education programme and subject lead for languages. In my earlier career I lived in France and Spain teaching English as a foreign language before teaching high school French and Spanish back in England. My research aims to expand common conceptions of ‘language’ and ‘learning’, and to do this I draw on two fields of enquiry: the affective-emotional dimension of language learning (which for me implies auto/biographical narrative methods – the topic of my PhD – and creative pedagogies) and the history of language learning and teaching (with special reference to French in England).

Talk by Dr. Simon Coffey, March 15, 2024