Symposium: Can Languages Have an “Afterlife”?

Symposium at Aston University in Birmingham, December 7th, 2016

language-shiftLanguage shift is rarely a wholesale abandonment of a language by its speakers but a complex process normally taking place over two to three generations. In some cases language shift can lead to the development of successor lects. During the 19th century, for example, Romani speakers in the process of shift to English consciously retained a repository of words and phrases to be implemented into their English, thus forming a distinct variety of English called Anglo Romani. Another language where a conscious preservation of at least a repository and the development of successor lects took place during a process of shift is Western Yiddish in contact with Dutch and German in the first four decades of the 20th century. Funded by the British Academy a one day symposium will take place on December 7th (10 am to 4 pm) at Aston University in Birmingham.

Confirmed speakers:

Sarah Bunin Benor (Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles)
Yaron Matras (University of Manchester)
Anne Pauwels (SOAS, London)
Jakob Wiedner (University of Oslo)

The event is free of charge. Please register by 15/11/2016 under:  lss_researchsupport@aston.ac.uk

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Addressing English as a Lingua Franca in Language Teaching Theory and Practice: Challenges and Opportunities

This CPD event was run by Nathan Page (lecturer in applied linguistics at Aston) on May 4th, and was attended by staff and students of the university. The session was based around an overview of major theories and findings in the English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) research movement, and then an application of those to a specific context of language teaching and learning which formed the basis of Nathan’s PhD research.

ELF research tells us that many features of standard English lexicogrammar and pronunciation can be varied with no effect on mutual intelligibility between speakers. It has documented some of the processes involved in maintaining that mutual intelligibility, and has also pointed out which specific features are likely to cause breakdowns in communication and which are not. Given this backdrop, the audience were asked to consider a rather controversial question: to what extent is the teaching of all standard forms of English relevant in English education today?

Of course there are many ways of approaching that question, and certainly matters of educational context and individual identity, aspirations (and so on) are of paramount importance. It was noted that it is not uncommon for teachers or learners to have either ambivalent or openly hostile reactions to some of the concepts and ideas associated with ELF. This issue was expanded upon by demonstrating that – in a Japanese context where the English learners are volunteers preparing to work overseas in diverse global contexts – there certainly must be a strong case for adopting an ELF-type position on teaching practices, and yet some teachers were openly dismissive of global diversity in English, preferring to adhere strictly to standard forms of the language. This was shown to be a complex, multi-layered issue as research from the context shows many reasons which justify an ‘intelligibility based’ approach but this comes with many caveats indicating that some focus on standard forms of English is still important to the volunteers.

Ultimately, the session pointed out that an awareness of the issues raised by ELF is important for all teachers of English, but that the associated concepts represent both challenges and opportunities for classroom pedagogy, largely dependent on context and also learner identity.

If you would like more information, Nathan can be contacted on n.page@aston.ac.uk. He also has an open-source publication available at http://www3.caes.hku.hk/ajal/index.php/ajal/article/view/28 .

CPD: Assessment and the New National Curriculum for MFL

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Poster_Assessment  the New National Curriculum

Event: Starting work as a Translator or Interpreter

Are you interested in working as a translator or interpreter, but unsure how to start? This one-day event should answer questions on:
– the qualities and skills you need to work as a translator or interpreter
– how to get organised – and where to find help
– breaking through the ‘no experience = no work’ barrier pricing and financial aspects of being a translator or interpreter.
There will be a question-and-answer session and time for networking.

A free event arranged jointly by Aston University in Birmingham and ITI (Institute of Translation & Interpreting)

ITI logo RiL-WM-logo

CLERA Distinguished Lecture: Prof Jennifer Jenkins

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Poster_CLERA Distinguished Lecture 2015

Show and Tell for Language Practitioners at Aston University

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Poster_Show n Tell event Feb 2015

Midlands German Network (MGN) launched in January 2015

Connecting Local Schools, Universities and Businesses

MGN logoGraduates with German language skills are highly sought-after on the British and international labour markets. The Midlands German Network (MGN) is a university-led initiative which fosters cooperation between local schools, universities and businesses. Its aim is to make young people aware of the manifold opportunities, increase the uptake of German, and support recruitment for local employers.

The Midlands German Network will be officially launched at Aston University on January 21, 2015. This launch event will be an opportunity for networking across all three levels. Organisations represented include the German Embassy, the Goethe Institute, and UK-German Connection.

For: Secondary and Primary school teachers, pupils from Year 9 onwards; local businesses and universities, including students; anyone interested in German culture and language.

To find out more about the launch and to register for the event, please click here. Please forward details of the event to interested parties.

Registration deadline: 10 December 2014, although later registration is possible by contacting midlandsgermannetwork@aston.ac.uk. Any questions or comments should be addressed to this email address.

Conference: New Directions in Reflective Practice

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Reflective Practice Conference flyerx

Conference: New Directions in Reflective Practice

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Reflective Practice Conference flyerx

Conference: How does language and literacy work? at Aston University

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Second Annual How does language  literacy work conference poster