Program and Keynote – 2022 Chicago Language Symposium

The University of Chicago is pleased to announce that Dr. Katie Brown will be giving the keynote presentation at the 2022 Chicago Language Symposium.

Photo of Dr Katie Brown

LSP as an Agent for Change in an Increasingly Connected, Post-Pandemic World

Dr. Katie Brown

Founder and Chief Education Officer, EnGen


The COVID-19 pandemic brought an unprecedented shift toward online working and learning, with people around the world suddenly finding themselves participating in all interpersonal activities in a technology-mediated manner.  While the long-term effects of conducting our affairs exclusively via Zoom will likely be the subject of empirical inquiry for years to come, there were some clear benefits to this paradigm shift.  Perhaps the clearest is the democratization of access and communication; without logistical barriers of space or time, our increasingly connected world grew even closer, underscoring the need for specific skills to navigate across the last boundaries remaining–those of language and culture.  This talk will center the conversation on Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) as an agent for social change as we move towards a post-pandemic world.

After a brief discussion situating LSP within the framework of Task-Based Language Teaching, this keynote will touch on examples of LSP driving economic outcomes, academic achievement, immigrant integration, and other social change. Leveraging decades of data on instructed second language acquisition and technology-mediated training, the speaker will offer recommendations for how to develop, assess, and implement LSP courses that efficiently and effectively give learners the tools they need to accomplish their real-world goals. Drawing on a wide range of research, the talk will explore how viewing ALL language instruction as LSP can reframe our conversations about what makes instruction effective, improve learning outcomes, and offer useful frameworks to evaluate how well our language instruction is working.

Presenter Bio:

Dr. Katie Brown is the founder and Chief Education Officer of EnGen, a certified B-Corp focused on removing English as a barrier for immigrants, refugees, and speakers of other languages. She has dedicated her career to making language learning more accessible and effective using innovative technology and research-based best practices. Dr. Brown earned her PhD in Second Language Acquisition from the University of Maryland in 2013, where she focused on Task-Based Language Teaching, instructed SLA in online environments, and cognition. She has served as the lead researcher on large-scale projects investigating the efficacy of technology-mediated language training at the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language, she was the Academic Director of Foreign Languages at University of Maryland, University College, and served as Assistant Professor of Language Studies at Prince George’s Community College.

Dr. Brown has led teams to design award-winning language courses for the U.S. Government, universities, and language training centers around the world; she spent years evaluating and analyzing commercially available language learning products; and she has conducted extensive empirical research on how to design online language programs that are efficient, effective and entertaining. She has authored ten patents on the technology she designed to deliver AI-driven language learning at scale, and her current goal is to leverage this technology to deliver high-quality, needs-based English instruction to immigrants and refugees, rapidly giving them the tools they need to advocate for themselves and their families and improve their economic outcomes.

The logos from the four hosts of the Chicago Language Symposium