AAAL and TESOL in the Windy City

Last month I headed off to Chicago with Anna and Tommi for my first international trip with MM – a week of back to back conferences, starting with AAAL and ending with TESOL. After a nice, relaxing flight over, I arrived in Chicago ready to dive straight into the first day of AAAL the following morning.

On the walk to the conference hotel on the first morning, I truly understood how Chicago got its “Windy City” nickname. It was absolutely freezing! No matter which way you turned, hoping the next block would offer some shelter, the gusts coming off the lake seemed to find you. It was a relief to arrive and hunker down in basement where the exhibit hall was located.

Tommi, Anna and Flo at AAAL

After a fairly relaxed start, it was quite the baptism of fire when the first coffee break brought a flurry of people downstairs to the exhibit hall, and every subsequent break continued in the same vein, with all three of us scrabbling for pens, order forms and books at once. Still, it was great to see so much enthusiasm for our books and it was a really successful conference in terms of sales, with Jan Blommaert’s new book, Dialogues with Ethnography, and Translanguaging in Higher Education edited by Catherine M. Mazak and Kevin S. Carroll proving particularly popular.

Dinner with Wayne Wright

It was also a really good opportunity for me to finally meet so many of the people I’ve been emailing back and forth with over the past three and a half years, and put faces to names. We were even able to spend time with a couple of our authors after the conference over dinner and had lovely meals out with Wayne Wright, and Maggie Hawkins and her son, Sam. I particularly enjoyed sampling the culinary delights Chicago has to offer, including deep dish pizza, steak and the best Brussels sprouts I have ever encountered in my life!

With AAAL over and Anna on a flight back to the UK, Tommi and I headed straight off to the convention centre where this year’s TESOL was being held. It was a totally different experience for me, having never exhibited in a convention centre before, and I couldn’t believe the sheer scale of the place. After a quiet start, our stand got busier and busier, and by the time Tommi left for home on the penultimate day, I was rushed off my feet! Again, sales were good and it was particularly pleasing to take so many preorders of Shawna Shapiro, Raichle Farrelly and Mary Jane Curry’s forthcoming book, Educating Refugee-background Students, due out in May.

It being my first time in Chicago, I took the opportunity wherever possible to see some of the sights at the end of each day at the conference. I ventured off to Millennium Park to see the famous Bean sculpture there, visited the Art Institute (where the highlight, aside from the collections of famous paintings, were the incredible Thorne Miniature Rooms) and waited in what felt like the world’s longest queue to go up the Willis Tower and try out “The Ledge”, a glass balcony that extends four feet outside the 103rd floor!

Flo

 

AAAL conference and doughnuts!

My first conference for Multilingual Matters was AAAL in Portland. I had been reliably informed the AAAL crowd were a very pleasant bunch and that Portland was a gastronomic delight, so when I left the house at 3.30am on a Friday morning I was hoping it was all going to be worth it! I wasn’t disappointed.

Fresh faced and eager to get started!
Laura, Tommi and Kim: Fresh faced and eager to get started!

The conference itself was great, very well organised and we saw many of our authors and editors during the event. We’re told it was AAAL’s best ever attendance, with 1,700 delegates and a high number of delegates from Australasia and Asia. Our books sold very well indeed, with Bonny Norton’s 2nd Edition of Identity and Language Learning taking the top spot. Other popular books included Multiple Perspectives on the Self in SLA edited by Sarah Mercer and Marion Williams, Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes by Jan Blommaert, and Language, Migration and Social Inequalities edited by Alexandre Duchêne, Melissa Moyer, and Celia Roberts (the second volume in our new Language, Mobility and Institutions series). Tommi gave a talk on how to publish your first book to between 50-100 people, and wasn’t too scared, and took part in the colloquium on the future of academic publishing in applied linguistics and was terrified, but both went very well! We had very nice comments about both sessions, with lots of insightful questions from the audience.

Maggie Hawkins and Tommi enjoying the Bacon Maple Doughnut
Maggie Hawkins and Tommi enjoying the Bacon Maple Doughnut from Voodoo

Portland was a joy. We ate incredibly well, with the foodie highlight being soufflés with our lovely colleagues from the Center for Applied Linguistics. We managed to squeeze in a trip to Voodoo doughnuts, a must-do in Portland, as well as a visit to Powell’s bookstore – a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. It didn’t take long before we found some of our own books in there!

The ethos of Portland - and we loved it
The ethos of Portland – and we loved it

While we didn’t have long to explore the city, we loved what we saw. From resistance banknotes to bars filled with pinball machines – Portland was a total treat and we can’t wait to be back one day!

Kim

Tommi and Laura’s visit to UCLA and stand at TESOL

Either side of the AAAL conference (which you can read about in Kim’s post here), Tommi and I managed to squeeze in a trip to Los Angeles to visit colleagues and students at UCLA and from Loyola Marymount University, and of course exhibit at the annual TESOL conference as usual.

UCLA Campus
UCLA Campus

On arrival in LA we met with Patricia C. Gándara, co-editor of our forthcoming book on the economic advantages of bilingualism, who kindly gave us a tour of the beautiful UCLA campus.  The campus has been the shooting location for many films so it was fun to spot buildings which we recognised while Patricia explained what they are actually used for.

After lunch we gave a presentation to students and staff on academic publishing.  We were pleased that the audience came armed with questions and were happy to explain some of the mysteries of book publication to them.  We also met with Teresa L. McCarty, author of our book Language Planning and Policy in Native America, who has recently moved to UCLA from Arizona State University.

Tommi and Laura training for the Bristol 10k
Tommi and Laura training for the Bristol 10k

Tommi and I spent the rest of our time in California meeting with Magaly Lavadenz and Elvira Armas from CABE who took us to dinner in the beautiful Marina del Rey area of LA and training for the Bristol 10k, which we are running together with our colleague Sarah in May to raise funds for St Peter’s Hospice.  You can read about our challenge here.

TESOL Conference 2014
TESOL Conference 2014

Then it was onwards to Portland for AAAL and TESOL. After the successes of AAAL we recharged our batteries ready for TESOL which this year had the theme “ELT for the Next Generation: Explore, Sustain, Review”. As usual we enjoyed catching up with familiar faces and meeting new delegates.

TESOL delegate with Johnnie Johnson Hafernik, co-author of the book
TESOL delegate with Johnnie Johnson Hafernik, co-author of the book

We had a busy conference with Bonny Norton’s 2nd Edition of her classic text Identity and Language Learning being the runaway best-seller.  Other popular new titles were Desiring TESOL and International Education by Raqib Chowdhury and Phan Le Ha and Julia Menard-Warwick’s new book English Language Teachers on the Discursive Faultlines.  We also had a conference highlight when a customer bought a copy of Integrating Multilingual Students into College Classrooms just as one of the authors, Johnnie Johnson Hafernik, visited our stand and was able to sign the book. Definitely one of my top moments of the trip!

Next year AAAL and TESOL are in Toronto and we are already looking forward to the conferences!

Laura