May is now upon us and as I sit here in the spring sunshine it’s easy to wonder where March and April went. My colleagues will be quick to point out that as well as the months travelling by, I have also been doing some travelling, together with Tommi and Kim.
Following the NABE conference in Las Vegas, the next conference on our spring schedule was GURT which Tommi attended in Washington in March. The theme of the conference was “Diversity and Super-Diversity: Sociocultural Linguistic Perspectives”. Our two books Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes by Jan Blommaert and Linguistic Landscape in the City edited by Elana Shohamy et al were popular following the authors’ keynotes. Tommi then flew over the border to Canada to meet me in Toronto, where we spent the next 10 days.
Tommi with Dolores, Bessie and Smita during our visit to UTP
The first appointment of our trip was with the University of Toronto Press Distribution (UTP), our North American distributor. We have had a long relationship with them and it was lovely to catch up with people we email almost daily but haven’t seen in person for a number of years. Smita and Dolores are our first points of contact at UTP and they oversee the processing of any orders to customers based in Canada and the US, be they purchases, review copies, desk copies or anything else. As well as discussing work, they and Bessie were able share their insider knowledge on Ontario, and recommended a trip to Niagara on our mid-trip afternoon off.
Kim, Tommi and Laura manning the stand at AAAL
The next highlight of our trip was the annual AAAL conference, which this year took place in Toronto together with its Canadian equivalent ACLA. Kim flew out to join Tommi and me and the three of us manned the stand and went to sessions. The AAAL conference is always a lively and well-attended event and we are always proud to display a full selection of our recent publications to the field. It’s one of the rare occasions where we see all of our publications side-by-side and reflect on all the work that has been put in by our authors. Our SLA series had a bumper year, with 4 books in the series making our top 10 list of sellers and Motivational Dynamics in Language Learning edited by Zoltán Dörnyei, Peter D. MacIntyre and Alastair Henry topped the chart. Of our 2015 titles, Power and Meaning Making in an EAP Classroom by Christian Chun was very popular, as was the 2nd edition of Merrill Swain, Linda Steinman and Penny Kinnear’s work Sociocultural Theory in Second Language Education.
Kim and the Yorkshire puddings!
We celebrated the publication of this new 2nd edition one evening together with the authors and some of their colleagues. Merrill Swain chose a superb French restaurant for the occasion and that was one of many evenings during our stay in Toronto when we were impressed with the cuisine that the city had to offer. We seemed to eat our way round the world as we enjoyed not only local Canadian cuisine but also that with influences from Japan, Iran, Italy and in one restaurant, Yorkshire, Kim’s home county in the UK. The chef was a little intimidated when he heard that a true Yorkshire lass was to taste his take on Yorkshire puddings!
As soon as AAAL was over it was nearly time for TESOL, but not before we had waved Kim farewell (she headed back to the UK for the iMean conference) and Tommi and I had managed to squeeze in a quick trip to Niagara Falls. The Falls were every bit as stunning as I had imagined and even noisier! TESOL was its usual busy self and the keynotes given by our authors Michael Byram and Jim Cummins pulled enormous crowds.
Mike Byram giving his keynote
We also attended some of the smaller sessions, including a panel discussion on L2 Motivational Self-Concept in Language Learning which was organised by future author Nihat Polat and included Zoltán Dörnyei, Kata Csizér and Michael Magid as speakers. Kata and Michael recently published The Impact of Self-Concept on Language Learning with us, and their visit to the stand afterwards marked the first time that they had been together with the published book!
The final conference of my trip was the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting in Chicago. It was the first time that I had attended AERA and it was a surprise to me to be at a conference with delegates with backgrounds other than language. However, even those who were there for sessions in another field of study were sometimes drawn to our books and A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism by Colin Baker was often picked up for personal rather than research reasons. The most popular title of the conference was another of our books on bilingualism, the collection The Bilingual Advantage edited by Rebecca M. Callahan and Patricia C. Gándara.
It has been a busy year already for conference travel but isn’t set to quieten down yet. Next on our schedule are The 10th International Symposium on Bilingualism which Tommi and Elinor are attending in New Jersey in May, and the 27th International Conference on Foreign/Second Language Acquisition which I’ll be going for in Poland. If you’re at any of these meetings do please pop by our stand and say hello, we’d love to meet you!