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Expert in the Spotlight in 2011: Itesh Sachdev

Itesh SachdevThe expert in the Spotlight feature gives you the chance to interact one-in-one with our Ask the expert-section. The feature also provides interesting and insightful comments regarding the subjects mentioned above, in-depth content and exclusive Q and A’s.

Featured Expert / Area of focus:
Itesh Sachdev is Professor of Language and Communication in the Department of Linguistics at the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London, UK.
Prof. Sachdev’s main research interests lie in the area of the social psychology of language and intergroup relations. His research foci include ethno-linguistic vitality and identity in relations between members of minority and majority groups, multilingualism and multiculturalism, the role of attitudes and motivation in language teaching and learning, and intercultural communication.
He is currently President of the International Association of Language and Social Psychology;  Associate Editor of Applied Linguistics Review; General Series Editor for Routledge Reader Series in Language Learning;  Editorial Board member of the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, British Journal for Canadian Studies, London Journal of Canadian Studies, and Convenor of the London Canadian Studies Association.  He is just completing his term as Director of the SOAS-UCL Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning ‘Languages of the Wider World’.

SOAS-UCL and Mercator Research Centre organize the International Conference : Languages of the Wider World: ‘Understanding Resilience and Shift in Regional and Minority languages’ on 7-8 April 2011 in the city of Ljouwert/Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.

Face to face with Itesh Sachdev

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages/education/multilingualism?
I was born and brought up in Kenya as a third generation Gujarati in a highly plurilicultural and pluringual context . I attended primary and secondary schools in Kenya and the UK, did my undergraduate work in the UK (University of Bristol), and doctoral training in social psychology in Canada (McMaster University).   Since then I have been based in hyper-diverse London while conducting research with various ethno-linguistic groups including those in/from Bolivia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia and the UK.

What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?
The biggest challenge to me is trying to find cogent ways of helping to implement United Nations Declaration Article 2:1 (United Nations, 1992): “Persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities…have the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, and to use their own language in private and in public, freely and without interference or any form of discrimination.”

What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?
An identity based approach to persuading people about the benefits of plurilingualism and pluriculturalism.  We are currently exploring, in an experimental manner, how behavioural change (in terms of learning languages or intentions to learn languages) are influenced by triggering important social identifications.  

Are there any important references such as articles, links, etc. you would like to mention?


J. McPake, & I. Sachdev (2008) “Community Languages in Higher Education: Towards realising the potential”, LLAS ‘Routes Into Languages’ research report at


Sachdev, I., & Bourhis, R. Y. (2005) “Multilingual communication and social identification.” In J. Harwood & H. Giles (Eds.) Intergroup communication: Multiple perspectives (p. 65-92). New York: Peter Lang.

Sachdev, I., &  H Giles, H. (2004). Bilingual accommodation. In T. Bhatia and W. Ritchie (eds.). “The Handbook of Bilingualism” (p. 353-378). Oxford: Blackwell.

Do you have any questions on these topics?
Ask Itesh

Featured topic
Our focus this month lies on Language and social psychology.

Further reading

Journal of language and social psychology

International Association of Language and Social Psychology :