28 May 2015
Ever since I first started working on our SLA list people have raved to me about the International Conference on Foreign and Second Language Acquisition (ICFLSLA) and recommended that I attend. This year I finally found time in our busy conference schedule to go. En route to the conference venue in Szczryk (the seemingly unpronounceable Polish village whose spelling I have to check every time I write it!) I wondered if the conference would live up to its reputation.
The beautiful setting for the conference
Within moments of arriving any fears I had had were allayed. The organisers Danuta Gabryś-Barker, Adam Wojtaszek and Dagmara Gałajda were incredibly welcoming and ensured that everything related to our book exhibit went smoothly. The conference hotel itself was nestled at the foot of some mountains which provided luscious green views, when not obscured by low cloud and heavy rainfall! The mountain air certainly seemed to provide the delegates with plenty of breathing space and inspiration as the talks centring round this year’s theme of positive psychology were full of energy, ideas and optimism, so much so that we could easily forget the miserable weather outside!
As usual I had a table with a good array of our latest and related titles for the delegates to browse and buy. The most popular title of the conference was Capitalizing on Language Learners’ Individuality by Tammy Gregersen and Peter D. MacIntyre which weds theoretical implications with practical application in affective teaching. Other popular titles included Cook and Singleton’s textbook Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition and our latest collection edited by Zoltán Dörnyei, Peter D. MacIntyre and Alastair Henry, Motivational Dynamics in Language Learning.
Alison Phipps beginning her keynote
Throughout the course of the conference I attended a range of sessions plus the keynotes given by Peter D. MacIntyre, Rebecca Oxford, David Singleton, Simone Pfenninger, Hanna Komorowska, Tammy Gregersen, Sarah Mercer and Alison Phipps. The speakers all spoke passionately about their work, views and experiences and provided plenty of food for thought. And as for real food, we delegates were truly spoilt with wonderful Polish cuisine throughout our stay. So much so, that I felt obliged to find some time out during the conference to go for a run ahead of the Channel View team entering the Bristol 10k run this weekend. The temptation of a stunning view from the top of the mountain lured me into trying to run up it, a very bad idea that I rapidly neglected! If I return to another ICFSLA conference I will certainly take the chairlift up to see the full view that I missed out on seeing.
17 September 2012
The conference venue
This year’s EUROSLA conference was held at the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań. The venue was the stunning Collegium Iuridicum Novum building, a brand new facility for the university’s Faculty of Law and Administration. The conference was its usual bustling self with many people commenting on the range of interesting paper themes and the trouble in finding the time (and sometimes energy!) to get to them all.
The University Choir
The welcome reception consisted of a concert and drinks reception in a hall in one of the older parts of the university. The performance was given by the university’s academic choir, who have toured all over the world and who had returned to Poznań before the start of term especially to sing for us. It is some time since I have been to a choral concert and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The choir sung a range of pieces including traditional Polish songs and their own takes on popular music. My favourites were their version of “Chili con Carne”, complete with vocal percussion, and a choral rendition of the “William Tell Overture”, which included the choir trotting across the stage while singing! After the concert I thoroughly enjoyed chatting, sampling the mysterious foods and even drinking the local vodka! The choir’s motto “bringing joy through singing” certainly rang true that night.
As mentioned above, a personal highlight of my time in Poland was certainly trying a range of foods I’d never eaten, or even heard of before. I gradually worked my way through the different types of pierogi (Polish dumpling), trying both savoury and sweet ones; the best one I ate was a chocolate and peanut one, yum! I also discovered kasha, a savoury dish made from buckwheat groats and served with a delicious creamy, cheesy sauce and enjoyed some bigos, a stew which I had memory of some Polish friends making when I lived in Germany. It was as good as my memory told me it would be!
The Market Square
Having not been to Poland before I thought I’d take the opportunity to take some days holiday, so I not only visited Poznań but went on to spend the weekend in Wrocław and a few days in Kraków.
30 May 2012
After a hiatus due to our busy conference season, we have resurrected our office “Language of the Month” scheme. Today, Kasia, a Polish colleague of Sarah’s sister, was roped in to give us an hour of Polish over lunch. We were particularly interested in learning Polish as we shall be hearing a lot about it over the next few months what with the European football championships taking place in Poland and Ukraine in June, and EUROSLA being hosted by the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznán in September.
Kasia started the session teaching us common everyday phrases as “Dziekuje” (“Thank you”) and “Jak sie masz?” (“How are you?”) as well as numbers and some useful questions. Unsurprisingly, particular challenges for us were mastering sounds which we don’t have in English and trying to work out how things might be pronounced by looking at the spellings.
Joanna Nijakowska’s book
We then were able to ask Kasia how we should pronounce our many Polish authors names correctly. We often find names such as Piotr Kuhiwczak and Adam Wojtaskez especially difficult to get right, so we are pleased to know how to say them properly now. I am very much looking forward to attending EUROSLA in Poznán and will be doing my best to attempt to speak a bit of Polish while I’m there.
Kasia also gave us some helpful tips for visiting Poland, such as not waiting for people to form an orderly queue and not being surprised if we get a full health history when asking “How are you?”!