Plenary Speakers

Professor Alison Wray, Cardiff University

The second and third turns in dementia communication: what happens after incomprehensible input? 

In dementia communication research, much of the focus is understandably on what people living with a dementia are able to produce and comprehend. But they frequently attempt to engage in multiple-turn interaction, so what role do their interlocutors play in the shape of the discourse? 

Using examples from a 53 minute film documentary (Kirschenbaum, 2012), this presentation will examine day-to-day interactions in a residential care home, as experienced by Lee, a person living with Alzheimer’s. Particular attention will be paid to how the carers respond to what Lee says, and what scope that gives Lee for pursuing her communicative purpose.  

The observations will be theorised in relation to what communication is for and what determines the moment-by-moment success and failure of communicative episodes (Wray, 2020, 2021). This perspective can shed light on what it would take for the care staff in Lee’s residential home to increase the effectiveness of their side of the interaction, and what might constrain them from exploring such options. 

Kirschenbaum, S. 2012. You’re looking at me like I live here and I don’t. Available from: and via Kanopy streaming. 
Wray, A. 2020. The dynamics of dementia communication. New York: Oxford University Press 
Wray, A. 2021. Why dementia makes communication difficult: a guide to better outcomes. London: Jessica Kingsley. 

Professor Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow

Joy, Hope, and Survival: Decreating Professional Discourse from Below

In this plenary Alison will draw on her experience as academic, artist and advocate working with indigenous communities and those who seek refuge to consider the ways in which discursive practices frame the possibilities for care. With a particular focus on how discursive practices, and the arts create enabling environments for conflict transformation and for peace she will bring successive examples of methodological innovation and decolonising practice from projects around the world. Building on UNESCO’s report: Measuring Intercultural Dialogue aimed at improving professional practice in areas of humanitarian crisis and conflict across the world and on the extensive work she has undertaken with “New Scots’ within the UNESCO Chair team in Glasgow, she will consider how professional discourse is received and challenged from artist and advocacy interventions. In particular, drawing on the experience of the City of Glasgow as a site for intersecting contests between the professional discourse of border control and asylum management, the strategic aims of the New Scots Refugee Integration Policy, and the City itself as a vibrant site of discursive change she will consider what the ‘street level’ offers to the professional and how art both mediates and reframes. In a wide-ranging plenary spanning project work in low to middle income countries and on the doorstep of the 13th ALAPP Conference she will offer resources for rethinking the professional through the artistic and decreating experiences of those outside professional narratives.

FASSETTA, G. A. M., NAZMI; PHIPPS, ALISON 2020. Multilingual Online Academic Collaborations as Resistance: Crossing Impassable Borders, Bristol, Multilingual Matters.
IMPERIALE, M. G. & PHIPPS, A. 2022. Cuts destroy, hurt, kill: a critical metaphor analysis of the response of UK academics to the UK overseas aid budget funding cuts. Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 1-17.
LADEGAARD, H. J. P., ALISON 2020. Intercultural research and social activism. . Language and Intercultural Communication, 20.
PHIPPS, A. 2019. Decolonising Multilingualism: Struggles to Decreate, Bristol, Multilingual Matters.
PHIPPS, A. 2020a. The Imperative of Cultural Justice. UNESCO RILA [Online]. Available from: 2021].
PHIPPS, A. 2022. Decolonising Languages in Rural Settings: Towards Equatorial Epistemologies. In: AYERS BENNETT, W. F., LINDA (ed.) Multilingualism and Identity: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
PHIPPS, A. S., TAWONA; TORDZRO, GAMELI; TORDZRO, NAA DENSUA 2020b. English last: displaced publics and communicating multilingually as social act and art. . In: SCANDRETT, E. (ed.) Public Sociology As Educational Practice: Challenges, Dialogues and Counter-Publics. Bristol: Bristol University Press.

Professor Meg Gebhard, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Applied Linguistics in Hard Times: A Social Semiotic Perspective of Teacher Action Research

This plenary explores how applied linguists, when working in collaboration with practitioners, can use Halliday’s (1974) social semiotic perspective of language and other meaning making systems to inform the design, implementation, and analysis of action-oriented research conducted in the context of increasingly hard social, economic, and political times. These hard times, especially in public schools in the United States, are marked by weak investments in teacher education and the rise of privatization, standardization, nationalism, and racism (Gebhard, 2019; Gebhard & Accurso, 2023). To illustrate how a social semiotic perspective of language, learning, and change can inform the work of applied linguistics, this plenary has four parts.

First, I introduce Halliday’s theory of systemic functional linguistics (SFL) and briefly highlight how applied linguists have used this perspective to analyze text/context dynamics in a variety of professional contexts (e.g., healthcare, education, and the law). Second, I describe how I have used SFL and action-oriented research methods to support the professional development of K-12 teachers working in under-resourced public schools serving multilingual youth. Third, I present data from case studies conducted with teachers. These studies illustrate how teachers can use SFL pedagogical tools to address problems related to equity and literacy development in their work with linguistically and culturally diverse students. In addition, these studies illustrate the potential of applied linguists working with teachers to create semiotic “contact zones” (Pratt, 1991, p. 31) that support multilinguals in drawing on gestures, graphics, images, their home language, and standardized varieties of language(s) in learning to read and write challenging disciplinary texts for authentic purposes and audiences. This presentation concludes with suggestions for how applied linguists can develop practitioner inquiry groups in their field of study.

Halliday, M.A.K. (1978). Language as a social semiotic: The interpretation of language and meaning. London: Arnold
Gebhard, M. (2019). Teaching and researching ELLs’ disciplinary literacy practices: SFL in action in the context of school reform. New York: Routledge.
Gebhard, M. & Accurso, K (2023). In pursuit of a multilingual equity agenda: SFL teacher action research. New York: Routledge.
Pratt, M. L. (1991). Arts of the contact zone. Profession: 33–40.

More information coming soon!