Laura’s trip to Finland for the PLL and EuroSLA conferences

Two years ago Tommi and I attended the Sociolinguistics Symposium in Jyväskylä and had a fantastic time so I have been very much looking forward to returning to the city ever since it was announced that the University of Jyväskylä would be hosting the Psychology and Language Learning (PLL) and European Second Language Acquisition (EuroSLA) conferences.

The week started with Paula Kalaja, the chair of the local organising committee, welcoming delegates to the university and announcing the conference theme, “Individuals in Contexts”. There followed many papers and discussions, plus thought-provoking keynotes from Sarah Mercer, Maggie Kubanyiova and Phil Benson.

Quiet moment at the MM stand
Quiet moment at the MM stand

The coffee and lunch breaks provided many opportunities to continue the conversations and, as it was a smaller conference, it was nice to see so many new connections being formed and ideas being shared and discussed among the whole spectrum of the delegates. Of course, breaks are also the busiest time at the Multilingual Matters book display and I was happy to meet lots of avid readers and researchers!

Celebrating our new book with contributor Kristiina Skinnari and editor Tarja Nikula
Laura celebrating our new book with contributor Kristiina Skinnari and editor Tarja Nikula

Our most popular titles were Positive Psychology in SLA (edited by Peter D. MacIntyre, Tammy Gregersen and Sarah Mercer), the 2nd edition of Bonny Norton’s bestselling book Identity and Language Learning and Conceptualising Integration in CLIL and Multilingual Education edited by Tarja Nikula, Emma Dafouz, Pat Moore and Ute Smit. That book was so hot off the press that I brought copies in my suitcase direct from our office!

Along with the academic programme, I very much enjoyed the conference dinner at which we experienced delicious Finnish food, traditional folk music and a beautiful view across the city, for the dinner was held in a water tower high on a hill. It was a very strange feeling eating dinner knowing that you’re sitting right above an awful lot of water!

The conference drew to a close with the exciting announcement of the formation of a new association dedicated to this sector of the field, with Stephen Ryan the newly-elected President. He spoke of the goals of the association and announced that PLL3 will take place in Japan in 2018. I’ll certainly be keeping my eye out for more information on that one!

On the lake in Jyväskylä
On the lake in Jyväskylä

With a pause after PLL only long enough to enjoy a quick dip in the surprisingly-not-too-cold lake, in rolled EuroSLA, one of my favourite conferences in our calendar. The theme for this year was “Looking back, looking forward: Language learning research at the crossroads” and, as at PLL earlier in the week, we were treated to a range of papers and keynotes from Søren Wind Eskildsen, Ofelia García, Marjolijn Verspoor and Ari Huhta. Although Ofelia García described herself as an outsider to the field, her impassioned talk titled “Transgressing native speaker privilege: The role of translanguaging” was my personal highlight of the whole week. Another top moment was the presentation of the EuroSLA Distinguished Scholar Award to our author, Carmen Muñoz, for her outstanding contribution to the field.

The focus of the book display shifted slightly at EuroSLA and bestsellers on the stand included Rosa Alonso Alonso’s edited collection Crosslinguistic Influence in Second Language Acquisition, Zhisheng (Edward) Wen’s new monograph Working Memory and Second Language Learning and John Bitchener and Neomy Storch’s book Written Corrective Feedback for L2 Development.

As usual, the EuroSLA organising team also put on a fantastic social programme, with the highlights being the welcome reception in a Finnish rock club and a boat cruise on the lake to the traditional dinner venue, on arrival at which we were served a very strong but equally tasty local drink before enjoying more local cuisine and music.

All in all it was a wonderful trip to a couple of great conferences and a very welcoming host city. I’m very much looking forward to the next ones already!

Laura

Midsummer at the Sociolinguistics Symposium

The opening reception
The opening reception

Last month Tommi and I attended the 20th biennial Sociolinguistics Symposium which took place in Jyväskylä, Finland.  We were very much looking forward to the conference and visiting Finland at this time of year, as the 24 hour daylight makes “Juhannus” (Midsummer) a really special occasion. Tommi, being an English-Finnish bilingual, knows the country, language and culture well and was able to explain all the traditions of “Juhannus” to me, as well as translate many footballing terms as I attempted to follow the World Cup on Finnish TV!

Our stand was well-placed in a lovely, airy atrium where the coffee breaks were held. It was a really lively space as the delegates streamed in between sessions to socialise over the coffee and Finnish culinary treats.  I was pleasantly surprised by the Finnish food that I tried during our stay and particularly enjoyed Karelian pies (rice pies), Rieska (potato flatbread) and Reindeer stew.

Author Lyn Wright Fogle signing a copy of her book
Author Lyn Wright Fogle signing a copy of her book

As well as co-manning our stand Tommi ran a lunchtime workshop on publishing an academic book and took part in the roundtable entitled “Academic publishing and access to knowledge: A discussion on current trends, challenges, and possible futures”.  Such events are great ways for us to engage with the delegates and hear their thoughts, questions and concerns about academic publishing.

As usual, we brought a wide selection of our latest books with us and the delegates snapped up the special conference discount that we always offer.  The bestselling books of the conference were Identity and Language Learning (2nd Edition) by Bonny Norton, Jan Blommaert’s two books Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes and Ethnographic Fieldwork (with Dong Jie), the new 4th edition of Colin Baker’s best-selling book A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism and Flexible Multilingual Education by Jean-Jacques Weber.  The latter two books are both part of our trial bookmark scheme which you can read about here.

The Midsummer bonfire
The Midsummer bonfire

To make the conference extra special, the organisers arranged for the delegates to enjoy traditional Finnish Juhannus celebrations by running a lake cruise to a Midsummer party on an island.  There we enjoyed a kokko (bonfire), buffet and humppa dancing. Much fun was had by all before we travelled back in the extraordinary midnight sun! Thank you to the conference organisers for putting on such a fun evening and doing an excellent job at hosting the conference.  We are already looking forward to the 21st Sociolinguistics Symposium.

Laura

Sociolinguistics in Berlin

Multilingual Matters stand at SS19

Tommi and I have just returned from the Sociolinguistics Symposium 19 in Berlin. It was a very successful conference and has grown to over 1000 delegates this year. However, despite being larger than ever before it is still a very friendly conference with a lot of familiar faces and it’s always nice to meet up with our authors and editors. This year we had so many titles on display that we could barely fit them all in despite having 3 tables!

The organisers from the Freie Universität Berlin were incredibly helpful and friendly and made it a very enjoyable conference. We took a lot of pleasure in sampling the local cuisine in Berlin and we particularly enjoyed tucking into the delicious German cakes in the coffee breaks at the conference.

The AquaDom in our hotel complete with scuba diver

We stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Berlin which is situated right on the river Spree and we ate our breakfast every morning with a beautiful view of the Berliner Dom across the river. The other main attraction of our hotel was the incredible AquaDom which is the world’s largest cylindrical aquarium and contains one million litres of saltwater. The aquarium is 25 metres tall and rises up from the foyer of the hotel to the sixth floor. We spent a lot of time gazing at the fish and watching people in scuba gear cleaning the inside of the aquarium!

Tommi celebrated his birthday while we were in Berlin and after the conference had finished for the day we headed to the Tiergarten for food and drinks in a beer garden with our fellow publishers from Mouton DeGruyter and John Benjamins. Unfortunately as soon as we sat down with our pizza and beer it started to pour with rain so we had to run under cover to stay dry! However, we then headed to a cocktail bar to keep dry so it wasn’t a complete disaster!

Our view of the Berliner Dom at breakfast time

We were lucky to have the opportunity to have dinner with two of our authors while we were in Berlin too. On Thursday evening we went out for dinner with Nancy Hornberger and Terri McCarty. It is really nice to socialise with authors away from the conference when we are not distracted by selling books and can have a proper conversation. We went to a restaurant called Dressler on Unter den Linden and had a lovely evening sitting outside eating, drinking and chatting.

In 2014 the Sociolinguistics Symposium will take place in Jyväskylä, Finland and we are already looking forward to it and planning our trip!