On 27 June, the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies (PoLIS) hosted the annual LanGW4 Colloquium.

Organised by the GW4 languages consortium, this year's event marked an important milestone for the group as it celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Dr Irene Macías, Associate Professor in Spanish Studies at Bath and co-founder of the consortium, spoke to us about LanGW4 and why this anniversary was so important.

What is LanGW4?

LanGW4 is a consortium that brings together the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, and Exeter with a focus on languages. We joined forces in 2014, right after the GW4 alliance between our universities was born. We were inspired to collaborate, but as the GW4 alliance covered research, and our aim was to create a network with a focus on pedagogy and languages, we set up our own consortium.

We thought that the best way to come together was to celebrate an annual colloquium where colleagues from across the four universities could network and exchange innovative ideas on good practice. We held the first one in Bath, thanks to the then newly launched Faculty TDFs and some financial support from the University of Exeter, and since then, every year we have rotated the host university. This was the third time for Bath.

What would you say are the main achievements of these ten years?

There are so many, but I will start with some of our tangible outputs. In these ten years, we have shared more than 50 papers from colleagues across the four universities; we have listened to stimulating keynotes by leading voices in the field on topics such as decolonising Modern Languages, artificial intelligence in education, intercultural competence skills in the digital age, and many more. Some of these keynotes were published in a special issue guest-edited by us in the peer-reviewed journal Language, Culture and Curriculum. “Modern languages as an academic discipline: where next?”, 32(3).

Beyond those tangible outputs, I am very proud that we have come a long way as a community. Even though we are competitors when it comes to student recruitment, we have shown that collaboration trumps competition when it comes to advancing our discipline.

LanGW4 is very committed to creating a supporting environment for our colleagues’ professional development as language educators, and to advancing our academic discipline. I am immensely proud that our colloquiums have become an important date in our academic calendar. We have also created links beyond the GW4 alliance: for the last few years we have invited an external university, creating lasting connections with other HE institutions in the country. This year our invited university was University College London.

Tell us about the Colloquium last week

It was fantastic! There was a wonderful vibe throughout the day. We had more than 70 attendees, including colleagues from our CLT here at Bath. The topics of the colloquium were the embedding of EDI and AI in language education, as well as a round table on the Year Abroad. These are hot topics in the sector right now, and the quality of the papers was excellent.

In addition, we had a very stimulating keynote on linguistics in language teaching by Dr Sasch Stollhans, an expert on language pedagogy from Leeds University. In their feedback attendees have highlighted the relevance and the quality of the content, and the hospitality from the University of Bath. I want to thank once more the Department of PoLIS for its continued support, and our Operations Manager in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Toby Wellington, who has supported me with the organisation of the event.

Finally, how come it was your tenth anniversary but your 9th Colloquium?

I am afraid COVID-19 has a lot to do with that as, unfortunately, we had to cancel our event in 2021. Anyway, we bounced back the following year with renewed energy. And this year was definitely a celebration! Ten years is an important milestone, a testament to our commitment and stamina. So, here’s to making the next ten years just as special and fruitful!