RECLAS – Research Collegium for Language in Changing Society

combines expertise in language learning, teaching and assessment; critical sociolinguistics and discourse studies; research on language and education policies, as well as their theoretical and methodological development.










We build on a view of language as dynamic, social and societal in nature and study its importance in the processes of participation, identification and in/exclusion.

RECLAS brings together scholars whose work spans across the following areas:

1. Language learning, teaching and assessment

How (and why) do people learn languages? How are literacies acquired? Through what resources can the learning of such languages and literacies be supported? How can we assess language and literacy skills in a way that guarantees validity and fairness? Questions like these are of quintessential importance, as the ability to use languages and literacies effectively, creatively, and legitimately has a tremendous impact on the way in which people and communities participate in society. We at RECLAS view language as inherently social, interactional, and multimodal. We are continually reconsidering how language, learning, and literacy can be reconceptualized accordingly, in a way that transcends received distinctions between first, second or foreign languages as separate entities. In this way, we seek to contribute to a renewal of theories of language and literacy learning, teaching, and assessment, and to the development of new teaching and training practices.

2. Policies and the social structure

What societal phenomena and structures effect the way in which we perceive languages in society? What are the languages and literacies that matter in schools, in informal educational settings, and in workplaces? Who “owns” these languages? (In) which languages should we teach? Why should we teach (in) these languages? Which language policies are most effective in response to change patterns of transnational mobility? RECLAS scholars active in this field try to grasp the links between policies and practices, and they investigate how overt and covert language (and) education policies are constructed, negotiated, and developed throughout various contexts. On this basis, they formulate research-based recommendations to policy makers. All the while, we keep on diversifying and expanding our theoretical conceptions of language (and) education policies, in order to maintain a holistic and critical view of today’s superdiverse societies.

3. Discourses on language, diversity and (in)equality

Who has the power to draw (and to cross) social, cultural, and linguistics boundaries? In what sense, how, when, and to whom do discourses of race, gender, class, ability, citizenship, and other social identities, have an impact on people’s everyday lives? In a society subject to rapid economic transformation, in which individuals and communities become increasingly mobile, questions of in- and exclusion have become more acute than ever. Critical, multimodal discourse analysis, ethnography, and sociolinguistics have an essential role to play here, as they help us to understand, and ultimately also influence, the discourses through which social hierarchies and structures are negotiated, imposed, and resisted. Through their high-quality scholarship, RECLAS scholars are able to add much-needed nuance to ongoing public and academic debates.

4. Methdodological and theoretical development

RECLAS scholars active in all three fields share a persistent commitment to continually revise, develop and improve the various methodological and theoretical frameworks needed for understanding, analyzing, and eventually re-shaping the languages, changes, and societies that we live in.