Language Centers and Specialization(s)

full name / name of organization: 

Call for papers

23rd RANACLES Conference

"Language Centers and Specialization(s)"

University of Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, France

November 26-28, 2015

Since the 1999 Bologna Process and the implementing of the LMD reform in 2002 in France, Higher Education institutions, and especially universities, have undergone major transformations. Today, almost every student has language courses in his/her curriculum, even in Humanities universities where the sector of languages for students specialized in other fields than languages (LANSAD acronym in French) was structured quite late because of the historical presence of degrees in Languages Studies and Philology (for those students specializing in languages).

Since it was created, RANACLES, the French branch of CERCLES (the European Confederation of Language Centres in Higher Education), has mostly focused on the sector of languages for students specialized in other fields than languages (LANSAD), but the creation of Language Centers in universities for Humanities or in pluridisciplinary universities opens up the question of teaching and learning languages in Language Centers to new student audiences.

As Higher Education is the very locus for students to specialize, the notion of "language" is closely related to that of "specialization". Whether they study languages to become specialized in foreign languages literature, history or linguistics, or in international business, or whether they study languages to use them in a specific field—psychology, sociology, law, physics, biology, electronics, medicine—all these students study a language while specializing in one field.

"Specialization" is actually one of the elements that distinguishes Higher Education students from secondary education students, but also from people enrolled in "general" language training. Current research in psychology (2005) based on John Sweller's cognitive load theory suggests that the level of student expertise in a given field has repercussions on the learning processes. The notion of specialization, that may need to be (re)defined, would therefore play a major role in languages learning/teaching processes, whether the target language is specialized or general.

At an institutional level, it is worth noting that the notion of specialization(s) and the specializing process are at the core of the current restructuring of Higher Education, as universities are grouped to create large regional poles specializing in target skills, echoing the European Commission's work on the concept of "smart specialization" (2010). It therefore seems relevant to question the notions of specialties and specialization which shape Higher Education, for research and curriculums. The 23rd RANACLES Conference will enable to anchor a reflection upon these notions within the specific framework of Language Centers and Language Resource Centers, on which RANACLES has worked for over twenty years.

The Conference offers the occasion to try and understand how Language Centers, and the current research conducted on and in them, deal with the issue of "specialization(s)" and the "specializing" processes.


Papers will address one of the following subjects (non-exhaustive list):

*Epistemological reflection on the notions of student "specialization" and the specializing processes within Language Centers;

*Links between Language Centers and languages for specific purposes: Scholars are invited to interrogate the way(s) in which the training offered in a Language Center responds to the students' specialization, while taking into account the differences between such centers, the variety of curriculums, of languages, and of students' levels in mastering a given language. How can tasks and resources be adapted to the various specializations? What types of Language Centers correspond to given curriculums or specializations? How can development policies and resource choices strategies take into account the various languages, curriculums and students' specialties? What pedagogical and administrative staff can encompass all these diverging elements? And how do languages resource centers accompany students along their specialization process?

*Link(s) between languages curriculums and Language Centers: while Language Centers were traditionally created for the sector of languages for students specialized in other fields than languages, they are now also used in the "historical" Language Studies and Philology or Languages for Business and International Trade curriculums: how? What interaction between curriculums does that entail, if any? What could be put in common?

*Focus on the learner, teacher and the teaching/learning process in Language Centers: Relations between students, their specialization and language learning within languages resource centers: what are their needs? What are the learning objectives set up by languages resource centers? What resources or devices to teach and learn there? What evaluation tools can be used? What pedagogical innovations can develop the link with student specialization? What links can be developed between ICT and specialization(s)? What are the effects of a student's level of expertise in a given field on his/her learning a foreign language?

*Specialized jobs within Language Centers: what types of jobs? What are the needs in terms of specialization, and for what curriculums? How do the various actors interact within language centers? How are centers organized?

Proposals can either be in French, English, or Spanish. Each paper must not exceed 25 minutes, so as to keep 15 minutes for exchanges after each presentation. Following the conference, presenters will be invited to submit their contributions for a peer-reviewed, post-conference publication on the theme of the conference.

Please deposit your proposals—4000 characters maximum (spaces and bibliography included) before May 15, 2015 at the following address:

We will advise acceptance by June 15, 2015.

Conference organizers:

Encarnacion Arroyo, University of Toulouse

Marie Bouchet, University of Toulouse

Fabrice Corrons, University of Toulouse

Cristelle Maury, University of Toulouse

Linda Terrier, University of Toulouse