At the end of September, I attended the Shanghai Center for Research in English Language Education (SCRELE) Conference on Language Teaching for Young Learners.
The conference started with a day of workshops for local teachers and students. The morning session I attended was ran by Annamaria Pinter from the University of Warwick, UK. Her session was called ‘Listening to Children’s Voices’ and she spoke about the importance of engaging children in their learning, motivating them and giving them ownership of their studies, and the different ways in which teachers might do this. We participated in several classroom activities, such as questioning Annamaria about the items in her handbag and seeing how many English words we could make out of the letters in the word ‘chocolate’. I was beaten in this task by the Swedish attendee next to me!
During the afternoon session, I attended Jonathan Newton’s workshop on creativity in classroom language teaching. This was also an interactive session during which we discussed the different ways in which teachers can engage learners. This included thinking up unusual ways in which teachers might start a class or do the unexpected. I left the session enthused and inspired with all sorts of ideas…only to remember that I am not a teacher and won’t be putting these ideas into practice!
Then, as the pouring rain began, so did the main conference. But we were not concerned, as we were told that in China rain at the start of an event is a good omen as it means that the event will run as smoothly as the rain! And that was true…the conference did run smoothly and was an interesting few days, filled full of talks on the topic of teaching languages to young learners. The conference organisers had invited an impressive array of keynote speakers: Rod Ellis, Maria Pilar Garcia Mayo, Anna-Maria Pinter, Xiaotang Cheng, Yafu Gong and Jonathan Newton, as well as two colloquia organised by Janet Enever and Yuko Goto Butler, and several sessions of papers.
During my time in Shanghai I was also able to squeeze in lunch with my long-standing contact, Huachu Liu and his colleague Angel, of the Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press. We have worked together with SFLEP over many years to enable some of our books to be available in local editions (at local prices) for Chinese readers. It was great to finally see where they are based and to enjoy chatting over a delicious lunch of local specialties.
All in all, it was a great trip to Shanghai, despite the pouring rain!
This year the annual EuroSLA conference took place in the beautiful university city of Lund, in southern Sweden. With temperatures unseasonably high and the sun shining, around 300 delegates descended on the city for a busy few days at the conference.
The opening keynote was given in sign language, with a spoken recording, by Krister Schönström. He discussed why sign language research may be interesting to SLA researchers and vice versa and questioned if learning a second language in the visual modality, such as a sign language, is the same as learning a spoken second language. The ensuing keynotes, by Rob Schoonen, who spoke about language learners’ ability and measurement, and Lourdes Ortega, who gave us an overview of important research to-date, before stressing the need for a reatunement from traditional contexts to embrace equitable multilingualism in diverse contexts, also provoked much conversation and discussion among delegates during the coffee breaks and social activities. The conference was finally drawn to a close by Minna Lehtonen who spoke about the effect of learning and experience on the neurocognitive systems of bilinguals and balanced bilinguals.
Outside the conference 9-5, delegates were treated to a drinks reception at the university’s main hall, which is locally nicknamed ‘The White House’ due to its prominent stature and, of course, white walls. The conference dinner on the Friday night was in an equally impressive building, the Skissernas Museum, in which we enjoyed a tasty Smörgåsbord while seated among the colourful artwork and under a brightly lit mirrored ceiling.
Next year’s EuroSLA conference is the 30th anniversary meeting and will take place in Barcelona in early July. We are looking forward to it already!
I attended my third Critical Tourism Studies (CTS) conference last month and it was yet again a hopeful and optimistic experience – and included the usual singing and colouring 🙂
The week kicked off with a brilliant keynote from Alison McIntosh and Paul Lynch on the concepts of welcome and hospitality in relation to refugees and asylum seekers.
I managed to get to a few of the sessions – highlights included papers on Lego, homeless tours, Indigenous tourism, and air passenger shaming! And a brave and open dialogue around academia and careers from Catheryn Khoo-Lattimore, Keith Hollinshead and Meghan Muldoon.
The highlight of the evening activities was definitely dinner and the beautiful sunset at Café del Mar – thanks to the organisers, Ana and Kellee!
Laura and Anna recently made the most of a trip to Alberta for the International Symposium on Bilingualism (ISB) by having a few days’ holiday in the Canadian Rockies beforehand. Highlights included bears, early morning lake swimming, a hike near Lake Louise and a drive up the Icefields Parkway. They stayed on a farm near Lake Mara and in a very secluded cabin between Jasper and Edmonton (that they’d probably never be able to find again if they tried!) It was a very pleasant way to get over the jet lag before the conference. Below are some photos of their travels!
Earlier this month, I travelled to the small Polish mountain resort of Szczyrk at which the annual ICFSLA conference takes place. As usual (or so it seems!) delegates were welcomed with cold rain, which made a dramatic change from the glorious weather that the UK was enjoying.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘translanguaging’, a topic which has sparked much interest and debate recently and these conversations were continued at the conference. The conference was opened by Angela Creese and Adrian Blackledge who introduced the audience to the research that they have been undertaking on translanguaging in Birmingham. We listened to speech of a member of staff serving a visitor at Birmingham Library and a mother and daughter in a home setting, which were both insightful and charming. They spoke about what can be learnt from ethnography for education and rounded up by speaking about the implications such research can have on classrooms, such as designing curriculum with changeability and unpredictability in mind, the social responsibilities of teachers and teacher development and making the school a welcoming environment.
David Singleton then provided his theoretical perspective on the term and spoke about the importance of context, the purpose of the researcher and thinking about language in the broad, macro sense and also at the individual particle level. Thereafter followed a discussion between the plenary speakers of the day and it was interesting to hear the different perspectives on the topic, as it was approached from both sociolinguistic and language acquisition backgrounds. We were left with the thought that lots of interesting work is currently being undertaken but that more empirical research is needed in different contexts and settings, from traditional classrooms to endangered language settings and out in the community.
Simone E. Pfenninger opened the second day with her plenary in which she spoke about random and non-random data and complexity and presented both the appeal and criticism of the topic. She followed this by introducing us to her latest study on age and immersion in Swiss schools and the quantitative and qualitative data that she has collected and is analysing. David Lasagabaster followed up with his presentation on CLIL in the Basque Country. His discussion groups in schools revealed that teachers and senior leadership initially wished to maintain a strong ‘English only’ policy and had a negative attitude to the use of other languages in the classroom, however later on in the study they acknowledged that flexibility was important and experience led to a change in this stance. He then moved on to discuss his new research which looks at whether beliefs, attitudes and realities in universities are similar to those found in schools.
The final plenary was given by Eva Vetter who started with an interactional activity during which we completed a survey on our phones and the results were posted live onto the screen. It was the first time that I had witnessed this use of technology and I found it to be an excellent way to engage and involve the audience. In the final question we were asked which words come to mind when we think of translanguaging and our input was summarised on the screen in the form of a word cloud, with the words multilingualism and communication being the biggest features.
And then, finally, before it was time to go home, the sun came out and we enjoyed a gloriously sunny end to the conference. I even had the opportunity to go up the mountain in the famous cable car, something that has become a bit of an office myth as we have never had weather good enough on previous conference trips!
The conference started for me with the pre-conference meeting of the Young Learners SIG at which Janet Enever, series editor for our Early Language Learning in School Contexts (ELLSC) series, gave the opening keynote. Her talk was entitled ‘21st Century ELT for 3 to 10-year olds’ and she tackled many current issues in working and researching with young language learners, such as the age factor, assessment and native/non-native speaker teachers. She stressed the importance of making sure that the conditions are right to ensure the development of language proficiency in children. Among the other speakers of the day was Shelagh Rixon, one of the editors of our forthcoming book Integrating Assessment into Early Language Learning and Teaching Practice, who presented her work with her colleague Amanda Davies: ‘Primary learning: borrowing the best from ELT and the mainstream’.
Another of our series editors, Sarah Mercer, who, together with Stephen Ryan, oversees our Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching (PLLT) series, was also present at the conference. Her latest book Language Teacher Psychology (edited with Achilleas Kostoulas) was very popular with the delegates, as was her older title Positive Psychology in SLA(edited with Peter D. MacIntyre and Tammy Gregersen). The second book in this new PLLT series Visualising Multilingual Lives (edited by Paula Kalaja and Silvia Melo-Pfeifer) was published just last month and was also a real hit. Many delegates found not only the content very appealing but also appreciated the full colour printing throughout the book.
The conference was held in the Liverpool Arena, which was totally transformed and unrecognisable from when I last came to it, to watch England play an international netball match. It was funny to be in the same venue with our books! The arena is situated on the waterfront and I enjoyed walking every morning along the docks, despite the blistering cold and wind. The docks are also home to Liverpool’s Three Graces and many museums, the Tate gallery and plenty of restaurants and cafes. Luckily I had some free time before I left the city and my favourite visit was to the Open Eye Gallery, where there is a striking exhibition of portraits of female UK MPs. Liverpool is certainly somewhere I’d like to return to for a holiday.
I recently attended the Language, Identity and Education in Multilingual Contexts conference in York. The papers at the conference considered all aspects of the linguistic and sociolinguistic competences and practices of bi-/multilingual speakers and the keynote addresses were given by Simone E. Pfenninger, Andrea Young and David Singleton.
Simone Pfenninger highlighted to the audience that older learners are among the least studied groups, yet they are also one of the fastest growing as societies are changing and ageing. She discussed how the profile of older learners is also changing as there are increasing numbers of older, new migrants; increasing numbers of migrants ageing in their ‘new’ country and increasing numbers of healthy older adults who are taking on new (language learning) challenges. She talked about the extent to which research on older language learners has been successful thus far and where it might go in the future.
Next, Andrea Young presented her work with emergent bilinguals and spoke about how deficit discourse is still common in French schools, where terminology such as ‘non francophone’ is widely used rather than the more positive term ‘emergent bilingual’. She discussed translanguaging and how it can be used as an inclusive pedagogical tool; we watched a number of insightful videos which showed that when a teacher makes an effort with the child’s mother tongue, the child is inspired to make an effort to learn French.
David Singleton, who stepped in at the last minute due to another speaker pulling out because of illness, also touched on the topic of translanguaging and shared his opinion that it can be a positive pedagogical tool but that the term is too widely used in other contexts. His talk was followed by several interesting questions and some discussion on the topic. After the morning sessions it was no surprise that our books on translanguaging were keenly sought out!
I spent the rest of the conference selling books and attending a range of interesting sessions. Local Bristol author and series editor, Jane Andrews, presented the research that she is undertaking together with Maryam Almohammad on using visual arts and crafts to support creative welcoming. They explored issues of language, identity and belonging within communities and explained to us how they are taking a new materialistic approach to their applied linguistics research.
Another memorable session was that of Anita Bright who presented an interesting and interactive talk about ‘trigger words’. These are words that we may use in our everyday speech without perhaps thinking about the background to these words, their connotations and the reaction that they may provoke in the listener. She situated her talk in research on language power and prestige and encouraged us to think about the language we use in educational settings. One example we discussed was that of the word ‘master’ often used in educational settings in terms such as the ‘master timetable’ or the ‘master copy’ but how this term has connotations of gender and slavery.
Aside from the interesting conference, the city of York was a fantastic destination for a conference and I enjoyed wandering the medieval snickelways of the city and eating local fare, especially Yorkshire rhubarb and parkin.
As January draws to a close we’re looking forward to the upcoming spring conference season, which is always the busiest time of year for both Channel View and Multilingual Matters.
It all kicks off for Channel View in February with Sarah’s annual trip to the other side of the world for CAUTHE, being held this year in Cairns, Australia. Then March brings the usual flurry of US conferences for the Multilingual Matters contingent – between them Laura, Tommi and Anna will be attending NABE in Florida and AAAL and TESOL in Atlanta, all in the space of a week! As April comes around we’ll be staying a bit closer to home, with Laura heading off again, this time to IATEFL in Liverpool, while Sarah makes her way down south to Bournemouth University for the TTRA Europe conference.
If you’re planning to be at any of these conferences, do make sure you pop by the stand to say hello to us. We love catching up with our authors, having the opportunity to put faces to names and are always very happy to discuss potential projects with you. We’ll also have plenty of interesting titles for you to browse, including a whole host of brand new ones, and they’ll all be on sale at a special conference discount, so you’re bound to find a bargain!
You can keep up with our whereabouts this conference season by following us on social media.
The study of social and cultural lives today is inextricably tied to varieties in the languages people speak, particularities in views of communal practices, and complexities in social situations. Additionally, and increasingly, there is the special case of intercultural dynamics as these play out among people of difference on social occasions. Conducting our lives in these ways places a set of demanding constraints on our studies especially if this type of study is to honor the diversity at play in languages, practices and situations.
This conference brought together scholars from around the world who are honoring such diversity in their studies. The cohering theme was, and has been for this community, a study of discourse which honors particularity in its cultural bases, structures, and forms. One plenary by Jan Blommaert, Tilburg University, the Netherlands, explored how “the selfie” as a form contributes not only to a surveillance of one’s own activities, but also to the creation of a data profile of the user, this being used to track one’s activities, purchases, locations, and so on; How do one’s actions carry unintended consequences and what cautions should be exercised? A second plenary by me, Donal Carbaugh of the University of Massachusetts USA, examined cultural discourses of emotion in the US as these involved gendered and political themes during the Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh’s hearings; what emotion is expressed, and should be felt during such complicated and trying times? Professor Manuela Guilherme of the Universidade Coimbra, Portugal, explored the variety of meanings in concepts that are central to the conference’s considerations; how do we use our key terms such as intercultural and multicultural, global and local dynamics, national and transnational arenas?
Professor Shi-xu of Hangzhou Normal University, China, highlighted China’s discourse of its defense policy as it activates Chinese traditions and values which are both “locally grounded and globally minded”; how are international relations revealed, structured and addressed through such discourses? Shi-xu’s lecture as many throughout the conference is particularly attentive to relations of power, in this case between China and the US, which serve the interests of some over others. The critical assessment of these dynamics in discourses, and their positioning of differences, was another central challenge and theme of those gathered.
It is impossible to capture the breadth and depth of the works discussed at this conference. But here are only a few of the presentations. Afrooz Rafiee of the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, explored the ways the discourse of the news is structured in different languages and for particular audiences. Her analyses discovered that the use of metaphorical language in Iranian newscasts were not present in Dutch news. The cross-cultural comparisons revealed different ideas about what might indeed constitute news including varieties in the styles of reporting it. Pomme van de Weerd of Maastricht University, the Netherlands, explored uses of vocabulary which identified people by group category such as being a “Turk” or “Moroccan” or “Dutch.” She found that teenage girls who were good friends used terms like these in endearing ways as a sign of friendship, but at the same time the same terms were dismissed as inappropriate by their teachers. The findings carry deep significance for laypeople and others especially those concerned with legislating educational policy. Yonas Asfaha of the University of Asmara, Eritrea, juxtaposed the ideal in Eritrea of treating nine languages equally with the near impossibility of doing so. How does one align language variety and the ideals of an “equal language” policy with actual diverse occasions of use? Emma Nortio of the University of Helsinki, Finland, examined in an online Finnish chatroom how the term, “multiculturalism” is itself a carrier of deep differences in its meanings. Studies such as Nortio’s reminded conferees of how deeply meanings are specific to different discourses, languages, social occasions of use, and the accompanying views of participants in situated cultural scenes. The variety of cultural and discursive forms examined at this conference was remarkable. These included, only in part, the cultural bases of diplomacy, the narrative form, dialogue, metaphor, religious/legal/medical/racialized practice, politics, as well as many language policy issues and educational settings – among many others. The studies carried ample food for thought.
The conference embraced and has been developing an impressive international network of scholars. This year’s gathering included scholars and studies from Brazil, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Eritrea, Finland, Germany, Italy, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The next conference in two years will no doubt continue this impressive legacy by moving forward not only empirically, but also with robust theories and methodologies for the study of cultural discourses.
University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Earlier this month Laura and Tommi headed to Germany for the annual Frankfurt Book Fair. As a company we’ve been going to the fair for nearly 40 years and those who attend are well-versed in the Frankfurt experience. With that in mind, Laura has put together a Top 10 “best of” from this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.
Best Part of the Drive
In recent years we have opted to drive down to Frankfurt, which doesn’t take as long as it seems like it might! The highlight of the trip is always the final section where we drive through the beautiful Rhine valley between Koblenz and Rüdesheim. The river is beautiful, the leaves are often just starting to turn into bright autumn colours and we always stop for some tasty goulash soup. We arrive in Frankfurt fresh and ready for the busy week ahead.
Most Interesting New Contact
We’ve long done business with the library supplier Starkmann who supply academic books to libraries mainly in Europe. However, we’d not met them in person until this year. We were delighted to meet with their Managing Director, Bernard Starkmann, and discover the uncanny similarities between our two companies: both were founded in the 1970s, passed from father to son management at around the same time and have bilingual managing directors. We were also very impressed that Bernard immediately recognised the artwork on the front of our new Multilingual Matters 2018/19 catalogue.
Most Established Contact
The Frankfurt Book Fair is a time for catching up with business contacts both long-standing, new and somewhere inbetween! There are many contenders for this section but a shout-out is definitely needed for John Benjamins, a fellow publisher of academic books on applied linguistics. Every year we stop by their stand and share a drink and a catch up with Seline Benjamins and her colleagues. Like us, their staff turnover is very low (once you find a good job in publishing you know not to leave it!) so it is nice to know that there will always be familiar friendly faces at their stand.
Noisiest Drinks Reception
Most evenings there are drinks receptions in the halls of the Frankfurt Book Fair which might take place when presses are launching new books, celebrating an anniversary or just having a sociable get together. As members of the Independent Publishers’ Guild, we tend to go to their reception which this year was in collaboration with the Australian Publishers’ Association. As we approached there seemed to be a noisier than usual hubbub and we were intrigued. On arrival we discovered that rather than ordering 24 crates of beer, the Australians had actually ordered just 24 bottles! You can imagine the outrage among tired and thirsty publishers. Luckily the order was rectified later in the evening and crates arrived to much cheer!
Most Exciting New Project
The Frankfurt Book Fair is an excellent opportunity to meet with like-minded publishers and to discuss the latest happenings and challenges surrounding academic publishing. This year we have been working hard to draw attention to the importance of rigorous peer review and are now working together with fellow university and academic publishers to create a way of recognising the high standards to which presses like ours adhere. The intention is to announce further details in January so watch this space!
Hotel prices in Frankfurt are astronomical during the book fair, so we stay in the village of Eschborn just a stone’s throw from the city. Over the years we have eaten our way round most of the eateries in Eschborn and one has emerged as our real favourite – a Croatian/German restaurant called Dalmatia. They have delicious classic German dishes such as Schnitzel and Apfelstrudel (sometimes with a Croatian twist) and always have seasonal Pfifferlinge (mushrooms) on the menu. However, this year Laura was mortified to see that the small portion of Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes) that she ordered was marked on the bill as “Seniorenteller” (old person’s plate)!
Most Memorable Quote
The Frankfurt Book Fair is sometimes a time for hearing about changes in the trade (such as acquisitions, mergers and movements of staff). Speaking to one exhibitor who has recently returned to independent publishing following a spell at a corporate company was quite telling. They said that corporate companies over-train you, overpay you and underwhelm you. That may only be a small snippet from one experience but it certainly made us even more proud of our independence.
Most Popular Book
This year we published Speaking Up by Allyson Jule which is an accessible book on understanding language and gender. The book has been written with a broader audience in mind than that of our academic books which tend to have a market specific to those working in the education or tourism spheres. The academic books were certainly as popular as ever with our traditional bookselling contacts but Allyson Jule’s new book really caught the eye of the general public when the doors were opened to them at the weekend.
Most Entertaining Story
Alongside the business side of the book fair, there is plenty of catching up between publishers and contacts and sharing of stories and gossip. Mari Bergamon from EBSCO, one of our library ebook providers, said that she believes that tragedy + time = comedy. The next day we heard the story that a children’s book publisher recently had to retract a publication in which they’d listed their website with xxx in place of the real web address, meaning to fill in the correct details before press. Unfortunately, the publication went to print before they updated the link and they very quickly had to withdraw the material when they realised readers were being directed to an x-rated website! I wonder how long it will be until that is looked back on as comedy!
Most Meetings of the Fair
By the end of the fair we had attended 31 meetings, plus had numerous impromptu conversations with customers, contacts and publishers both at our stands and at various receptions. We were very happy to spend our Saturday evening with our author Greg Poarch and his family who cooked us an absolutely delicious dinner, certainly a rival to any restaurant food we’ve had this week. As much as we enjoy the fair, it is really nice to have a local contact and to spend some time talking about topics other than publishing. We hope that we were not too jaded company! Greg’s son Loic is hoping to come to Bristol in January to do some work experience with us and we are really looking forward to taking our turn at hosting.
For those that have never been to Frankfurt Book Fair and wonder what it’s like, last year Laura and Tommi filmed every aisle of every hall! Here’s the resultant video: