During summer 2015 the Centre for Language Education Research at Aston (CLERA) has undergone a review resulting in its transformation to the Centre for Language Research at Aston (CLaRA). While language education research will remain one of the Centre’s pillars, members decided to broaden its scope. In our view, communication, knowing language(s), understanding discourse(s) and the media are some of the most important and challenging issues for people living together in an increasingly globalising world. The Centre for Language Research at Aston (CLaRA) sees itself as an innovative and international forum which focuses on language in the 21st century by bringing together researchers from disciplines across the study of language and culture.
Researchers within CLaRA operate in four key areas:
- Language Education: Researching learning and teaching of language(s)
- Corpora and Corpus Linguistics: Applying the methods of corpus linguistics to language research and teaching
- Multilingualism and Translation Studies: Examining the linguistic practices of multilingual speakers
- Language and Literature: Focusing on the interplay between language, communication and culture.
Our approach to research remains both, innovative and applied:
CLaRA–project TEMPUS: developing the teaching of modern languages internationally
This project focuses on improving the learning and teaching of European languages in Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Following research into the current practices and future needs of teachers and teacher educators across the consortium, the central activity is the development of a blended master’s programme for current and prospective teachers of European languages (English, French and German). The new programme introduces innovative learner-centred methodologies, tuned to EU standards but with a close eye on the needs of the local context. The project is based on collaborative research and development with a gradual handover to trainers in partner countries, making delivery fully sustainable beyond the life of the project.
CLaRA-project GeWiss: Researching spoken academic discourse in German, English and Polish
GeWiss is a research project funded by the Volkswagen Foundation with hubs in Leipzig (Germany), Wroclaw (Poland) and at Aston University in Birmingham (UK). Its aim is to analyse spoken academic language on the basis of electronic corpora. It provides a multilingual (German/English/Polish) corpus of audio recordings and transcriptions of academic communications, as an empirical foundation for comparative research. To this end, the GeWiss corpus focusses on two main genres of spoken adademic language:
- research talks including discussions, and
- oral exams,
It explicitly distinguishes between L1 and L2 sub-corpora. The corpus is enlarged and developed continuously and is open to the interested public on a trilingual interface. (https://gewiss.uni-leipzig.de/index.php?id=corpus_research&L=1).
CLaRA promotes collaboration among scholars in language and linguistics, and establishes international research networks and partnerships. It provides an annual programme of seminars, workshops and conferences, with recent visitors including Rod Ellis, David Nunan, Jennifer Jenkins. In addition, within CLaRA a language-related programme of events within the university’s continuing professional development programmes is designed and delivered in close cooperation with the centre’s stakeholders.
For more information, visit the CLaRA website: http://www.aston.ac.uk/lss/research/research-centres/clara-home/