Plenary Speakers & Invited Colloquia


For the 2019 conference, we are honoured to welcome the following keynote speakers:

Check back here later for keynote bios and information about their talks!


We are thrilled to welcome Monica Heller, Tiffany Lee, and Kristin Snoddon as plenary speakers, and Enrica Piccardo, Brian North, and Angelica Galante for an invited colloquium. Details about the speakers and their talks are below.

Monica Heller  |  Professor, OISE/University of Toronto

The institutionalization of “Language Policy” : the Cold War, “development”, and “decolonization”


In this talk I will offer a reading of the institutionalization of Language Policy as a field. While I will situate it in a long history of social engineering (the making and disciplining of populations and of citizenship) in the context of industrial capitalism, colonialism and the nation-state, I will focus on the key period after World War II when “language policy” was constituted as a field and institutionalized through a wide variety of research institutes and programs, principally based in North America and funded by private foundations (notably Ford and Rockefeller). The Cold War, waged on both sides through neocolonial struggles over “decolonization” in Africa and Asia, was conducted on the Western side through the trope of “development”. I will argue that language policy played a key role in legitimizing and conducting development projects aimed at building liberal democratic unified nation-states on the European model, through the making of standard languages, standard language literacy, and their attendant publics and subject-citizens. These state forms could then continue to be inscribed in international economic networks initiated through earlier forms of colonialism. This history, I argue, requires us to think about the nature of the field, the wide variety of interests it serves, and the complex, often unintended, effects of the practices it entails.


Dr. Heller’s research focusses on the role of language in the construction of social difference and social inequality in the post-nationalist, globalizing new economy. Her ethnographic, sociolinguistic research mainly examines these processes as they unfold in francophone Canada. She is also involved in work in these areas conducted in western Europe, and in their relevance for policy in the areas of language and education and training, the workplace and public space.

TIffany Lee  |  Dibé Łizhiní (Blacksheep Diné), Professor, University of New Mexico

From taking speakers to creating speakers:  Stories of Indigenous language change


Indigenous languages are intimately tied to Indigenous identities and cultural expression.  They have deep, personal meaning for Indigenous people and represent our ties to our family, community, and land.  We know government and institutional policies have taken Indigenous languages from speakers.  Policies have disrupted those connections but can they now reconnect those ties?  Can policies create speakers?  What policies can reverse language shift?  Language change is complex and policies alone are not implicated in influencing that change.  Indigenous communities come from oral story-telling traditions, and to best understand the complexities, we can draw upon our own stories of language change in our families and from our own communities’ struggles and successes.  Our stories represent our Indigenous knowledge and research.  This presentation will share stories of my Diné relatives, stories from Indigenous youth, and stories from Indigenous language immersion schools. Our stories can inform policy and strengthen our own critical language consciousness.  Understanding language change from our stories then situates language planning and policies in our own Indigenous epistemologies and values for our language.


Tiffany S. Lee is Dibé Łizhiní (Blacksheep Diné) from Crystal, NM and Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge, SD. Dr. Lee is a Professor and the Associate Director of Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico.  Her research examines educational and culturally-based outcomes of Indigenous language immersion schools, Native youth perspectives on language reclamation, and socio-culturally centred education.  Her work has appeared in journals, such as the American Journal of Education, Harvard Educational Review, the Journals of Language, Identity, and Education and American Indian Education; and in books, such as Indigenous youth and multilingualism: Language identity, ideology, and practice in dynamic cultural worlds and Diné Perspectives: Revitalizing and reclaiming Navajo thought.  She is the former President of the Navajo Studies Conference, Inc. Board of Directors and a current member of the New Mexico Indian Education Advisory Council for the Office of Indian Education, NM Public Education Department.

Kristin Snoddon | Assistant Professor, Carleton University.

Sign Language Planning and Policy in Ontario Teacher Education


This presentation addresses sign language planning and policy in Ontario in regard to the issue of teachers’ sign language proficiency. From the perspective of deaf communities and bilingual education researchers, teachers’ lack of sign language ability is frequently considered to be a root cause of deaf students’ low achievement levels. The grassroots Deaf Ontario Now movement that began in 1988 called for more hiring of deaf teachers and the full implementation of American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) across the curriculum in schools with deaf students. In 1989, the Ministry of Education’s Review of Ontario Education Programs for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students recommended that ASL and LSQ become languages of instruction in Ontario schools and that affirmative action policies be instituted to enable more deaf people to acquire teacher certification. The latter provision is essential for enacting bilingual education programs since most deaf children lack access to proficient adult sign language models. Subsequently, in 1993, Bill 4 was incorporated into the Ontario Education Act, sanctioning the use of ASL and LSQ as languages of instruction in all schools with deaf students. In 2007, then Education Minister Kathleen Wynne announced that her government was enacting a regulation to facilitate the provision of ASL and LSQ. This regulation was to be accompanied by the Ontario College of Teachers’ establishment of standards for teachers’ ASL and LSQ proficiency.

Despite the history of Ontario deaf community advocacy, gaps in sign language status and acquisition planning as pillars of language-in-education planning remain that impact the availability of bilingual education for deaf students and the requirement that teachers of the deaf be proficient in sign language. This presentation outlines the history of the Teacher Education Centre at the Ontario School for the Deaf, Belleville, which operated from 1919-1991, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teacher Education Program at York University, Toronto that replaced it, and surrounding deaf community activism and policy developments. In so doing, this paper foregrounds a critical approach to language policy, which acknowledges the role that policies and policy-makers play in maintaining systems of social inequality and promoting the interests of dominant groups. The framing of education for deaf students within a special education rather than bilingual education paradigm means that disability oppression intersects with language ideologies to produce inequities in education.


Kristin Snoddon is Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies, Carleton University. Her research interests are in applied sign language linguistics and sign language planning and policy. Her recent research has focused on developing a parent American Sign Language curriculum that is aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. She serves as Co-ordinator for the World Federation of the Deaf Expert Group on Deaf Education. Her newest book is the forthcoming Sign Language Ideologies in Practice (with Annelies Kusters, Mara Green, and Erin Moriarty Harrelson, Mouton De Gruyter). Her other publications have appeared in the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, Canadian Modern Language Review, Current Issues in Language Planning, Disability & Society, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, International Journal of Multilingualism, Sign Language Studies, and Writing & Pedagogy.

Invited colloquium

Enrica Piccardo (Associate Professor, OISE/University of Toronto & Université Grenoble-Alpes) and Brain North (Researcher and Consultant to the Council of Europe) are leading an invited colloquium exploring a major development of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) resulting from a Council of Europe 4-year project they led, The resulting CEFR Companion Volume includes new descriptors, particularly for mediation, online interaction, and plurilingual and pluricultural competence.

We will post the full colloquium schedule shortly. Stay tuned!