The Study Group on Language at the United Nations
in cooperation with
The Centre for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems and the Center for Applied Linguistics
invite you to a symposium on

Language, the Sustainable Development Goals,
and Vulnerable Populations

May 11 & 12, 2017
at the Church Center, 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017




8:00-9:00 Registration & Coffee

9:00 Opening Panel Discussion: Defining the Issues

Mina Jaf, Founder, Women Refugee Route
Carole Maisonneuve, Public Information & Multilingualism Coordination Officer, DGACM, United Nations
H.E. Amb. Michael Ten Pow, Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations
Humphrey Tonkin (chair), President Emeritus, University of Hartford; former editor-in-chief, Language Problems and Language Planning

10:00 Keynote Address:

Christine Hélot, University of Strasbourg, France
Analysing the sustainability of linguistic diversity across the home and school contexts

10:45 Break

10:55 Session 1: Language and Development

Carol Benson & Kelsey Woodrick (Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, USA)
Roles played by UNESCO and UNICEF in supporting multilingual education for vulnerable populations

Julia Szelivanov (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary)
UNESCO and its efforts to preserve multilingualism in the light of contemporary theories of language policy

Wine Tesseur (University of Reading, UK)
Listening in what language? The role of languages in international NGOs’ development programmes

Ana Lado (Marymount University, USA) & Fakhira Najib (Islamabad, Pakistan)
Sustainable success in Pakistan: Broad Class Interactive Radio Instruction

12:30-1:10 Lunch

1:10 Session 2: Non-State Languages

Kurt E. Müller (National Defense University, Washington DC, USA)
Access to non-state languages for interacting with vulnerable populations

Sozinho Francisco Matsinhe (Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa)
Language and the quest for sustainable development in Africa: Old challenges and new approaches

Jean-Paul Dailly (JPD Systems)
Participation and governance in French-speaking Africa: Is the role of language in fostering knowledge sharing underestimated by international development actors?

Cornelius Wambi Gulere (teacher and development worker)
Cultures that use indirect language today face the challenge of being misunderstood

2:45-3:00 Break

3:00-5:00 Session 3: Perspectives on Literacy

Francis M. Hult (Lund University, Sweden)
Linguistic landscapes and sustainable cities for vulnerable populations

Corrie Blankenbeckler (Creative Associates International)
Reading from the Heart: Expanding the bilingual education experiment in Mozambique

Ari Sherris (Texas A&M University-Kingsville, USA) & Paul Schaefer (SIL)
Lessons learned from Ghanaian Safaliba literacy activists: Theorizing expanded literacy opportunities in unrecognized mother-tongues

Fernanda Minuz (SAIS Europe, Bologna, Italy), Lorenzo Rocca (Università per Stranieri, Perugia, Italy) & Alessandro Borri (CPIA Montagna, Italy)
Teaching L2 to non-literate and low-literate adult migrants in Europe

Alexander Braddell & Matilde Grünhage-Monetti (Language for Work Network, European Center for Modern Languages, Graz, Austria)
New initiatives in Europe to support work-related language learning by low-skilled migrants: lessons for policy and practice



8:00-9:00 Registration & Coffee

9:00 Keynote Address:

François Grin, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Sociolinguistics and economics: Reassessing an ongoing dialogue

9:45 Session 4: Language and Social Justice

Shereen Bhalla & Terrence Wiley (Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, USA)
Reducing inequality and discitizenship within the multilingual United States

William Savage (organizational and community development facilitator)
Facilitated Advocacy: Connecting people through dialogue and action

Minati Panda (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India)
Critical Multilingual Education (CME) for social justice and citizenry

Anne Wiseman (British Council, UK)
Language for Resilience: A framework for language and sustainability for vulnerable populations

11:20-11:30 Break

11:30 Session 5: Refugee and Immigrant Education

Jan Stewart (University of Winnipeg, Canada) & Thomas Ricento (University of Calgary, Canada)
Refugee student integration in Canada: Building welcoming communities and schools for a stable future

Belma Hazndar (Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey), Joy Kreeft Peyton (Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, DC, USA), Martha Young-Scholten (Newcastle University, UK)
Teaching refugee and immigrant adults: A focus on their languages

May Akl (Notre Dame University, Lebanon)
A reality check on language and education for Syrian refugees in Lebanon: Issues and challenges

Eunice Kua (SIL International) & Mubarak Baraka Ismail
Mother language as a powerful motivator for refugee education

1:05-1:45 Lunch

1:45 Session 6: Educational Access

Rosemary Salomone (St. John’s University, New York, USA)
Global English, vulnerable populations, and educational access: Lessons from the courts in three countries

John Knagg (British Council, UK)
Respecting linguistic diversity and promoting English. Is it possible to do both ?

Michel DeGraff (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA)
Language, education, human rights, equal opportunity & sustainable development: Haiti as a case study

3:00 Closing Discussion: The Search for Solutions


4:00 Tivadar Soros Lecture

Ulrich Lins (historian)
Dangerous Language: Esperanto Under Hitler and Stalin

Over the past six months, scholars investigating aspects of Esperanto have been presenting a series of monthly lectures on their work at the CUNY Graduate Center under the auspices of the that institution’s Linguistics Program. The lectures honor the memory of the Esperanto writer Tivadar Soros.

When the series began, it was anticipated that one scholar from elsewhere in the world would be invited as a special guest lecturer in the series. The German historian Ulrich Lins was invited and accepted the invitation.

Dr. Lins’s lecture, delivered on the occasion of the publication of the English translation of the two volumes of his Dangerous Language, will follow the Symposium. All attendees at the Symposium are invited to remain for the lecture. Dr. Lins will discuss the subject of his two volumes: the persecution of Esperanto speakers under Hitler and Stalin and its aftermath in the Cold War.


The symposium organizers have not made special hotel arrangements. We recommend that you visit the websites of the following hotels.

There are numerous hotels in the general area of 777 UN Plaza (44th Street and 1st Avenue). Closest are the following:

In addition, there is a cluster of hotels around Grand Central Station, slightly further to the west.