Media Literacy in Foreign Language Education


This week I attended an international conference in Munich organised by University of Munich: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, titled “Media Literacy in Foreign Language Education: Digital and Multimodal Perspectives (12-15 March 2017). The conference brought together academics from around the world investigating the implications of media literacy on language education focusing on literature and storytelling, materials and resources, innovations in pop cultural approaches, literacies in film and media studies, as well as CALL/TELL in higher education and teacher education. The conference started with an inspiring plenary by Bill Cope in which he challenged existing online teaching practices and explored how an e-learning platform has the potential to transform instruction and assessment. In another plenary talk, Gunther Kress presented an overview of the principles of social semiotics. There were two other plenaries by Catherine Beavis and Mary Kalantzis. Catherine Beavis explored digital gaming as a venue for multimodal expression, while Mary Kalantzis offered a comprehensive overview of the work carried out by the New London Group since 1994 focusing on the development of a grammar of multimodality and future directions in the field.

My talk was on the first day of the conference and was titled “Learning and teaching languages in technology-mediated contexts: the relevance of social presence, participatory literacy and multimodal competence”. It was very well received with a good number of listeners and a fruitful discussion at the end. Overall, all went well, except the fact that my co-presenter, Mirjam Hauck of the Open University, UK was unable to attend due to a last minute health emergency.

I attended several thought-provoking presentations: Judith Buendgens-Kosten described a plurilingual language learning game being developed as part of an Erasmus+ project; Erhan Aslan (Reading University), presented his findings from a qualitative meta analysis on learner perceptions of the implementations of blogs, wikis and chat tools in EFL/ESL writing practices; Hsin-I Chen explored how Taiwanese EFL learners established multimodal identities in an intercultural exchange via Skype drawing on the many multimodal/semiotic resources present in the platform.

I had many networking opportunities as part of the socials organised by the conference committee. It was wonderful to meet Regina Brautlacht, Maria Martins, Maria Bortoluzzi, Francesca Bianchi and Niki Canham, some of which I had online and/or offline encounters before. It was a great pleasure to be part of the media/digital literacies community for a few days, which certainly left me with great ideas to work on. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the support of ECLS in funding my participation to this conference via the School Conference Fund.

Blog by Dr. H. Müge Satar, Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and TESOL at the School of Education, Communication and language Sciences.

Corpus Linguistics in the South 14: Corpus Linguistics and Multilingualism

Birkbeck College, University of London, 4th of March 2017

On Saturday, March 4th, I had an exciting opportunity to present my work in progress at Corpus Linguistics in the South event which focused on aspects of multilingual corpus linguistics. Multilingual here meant not only use of corpora in multiple languages but also possible applications of corpus linguistics methods to research multilingualism. The range of papers presented at the event demonstrated the broadness of this field of study.

A number of talks focused on uses of parallel corpora in comparative language studies that successfully implement computer software to exemplify language patterns and demonstrate their significance statistically. There were also interesting studies of representations (ex. of animals) that used multilingual corpora to study cultural differences in representations. Uses of corpora for translation studies focused on such challenging topics as researching idioms across languages and how this research is immensely helpful in translation practice.

Excellent plenary talks were also delivered at the event. Dr Charlotte Taylor focused on comparison across corpora of different languages in researching social phenomena like, for example, ‘community’ and how in different linguistic and cultural contexts such notions acquire different meanings. Research of this kind also involves multiple challenges, for instance, whether the researched term means the same thing when translated from English to other languages. Dr Dawn Knight discussed the ongoing project which aims to create a national corpus of Welsh language and the challenges it poses on the researchers. She also referred to how the corpus can be used by speakers of Welsh in the future. However, even now on the data collection stage the project has motivated people to speak the language with help of mobile applications. This project is particularly exciting and innovative as its experience can be applied for creating corpora for other minoritised languages.

I also had a chance to meet and receive feedback on my work from Dr. Mike Scott, the author of WordSmith Tools software.

As to my own presentation, it was a great pleasure to present to a highly expert audience: there were 48 participants from 28 different institutions! I received some useful questions and comments that gave me food for thought. These included ideas on how I can improve my research and what new directions I might take in further exploring my data. I would like to thank Dr Rachelle Vessey for organising this event and ECLS for making my trip to London possible.

Written by Hanna Sliashynskaya, 1st years PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics in the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University.

Interactional Competence and Practices in a Second Language (ICOP-L2) International Conference – Nur Nabilah Binti Abdullah

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the Interactional Competence and Practices in a Second Language (ICOP-L2) international conference which was held at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland from 19-20 January 2017. This event started with the pre-conference workshops (18 January 2107) in which I participated with my other PhD colleagues from Newcastle University- Somporn Maneechote, Suparee Impithuksa and Ufuk Girgin. The workshop was interesting, and we gained new insights with regards to our research field.


Most of all, as a PhD student, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to present a paper entitled “Word Search Sequence: Exploring the Embodiment in L2 Interaction” at this conference. I must say that the audience that attended my session were motivating. What encouraged me the most was to have a group of the audience who were scholars in this research field such as Professor Johannes Wagner, Professor Salla Kurhila, Professor Tim Greer, Professor John Hellerman, Associate Professor Kristian Mortensen, Associate Professor Eric Hauser and of course my supportive supervisor Dr Christopher Leyland. My presentation went well and I also received constructive feedback and ideas.


As a new researcher, attending this conference has given me the chance to meet well-known scholars and opportunity to become connected to people in the same field of interest. Last but not least, I would like to thank the ECLS for their financial support in providing the “Conference Fund for Postgraduate”.

Written by Nur Nabilah Binti Abdullah, 4th Year Research PhD Candidate in Applied Linguistics, School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Interactional Competencies and Practices in a Second Language (ICOP-L2) International Conference – Dr Chris Leyland


I recently attended a conference entitled ‘Interactional Competencies and Practices in a Second Language’ (ICOP-L2) at the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland. Attending this conference were around eighty social interaction researchers from across the globe; experienced researchers, early career researchers and postgraduate students. Fortunately, I was able to attend due to the support of the School Conference Fund. Being able to get to this conference was a hugely beneficial experience in a number of ways.

As an early career researcher, completing my doctorate in 2014, I am still hugely excited to attend talks given by some of the figures who have inspired me over the years. The prospect of presenting in front of such figures really too really pushed me, and my colleague Dr Adam Brandt, to do our very best work. A little pressure goes a long way! Our talk, entitled ‘Students problematizing advice in L2 support tutorials at a British university: opportunities for explicit socialization’, was attended by around twenty people. It went very well and I had some excellent feedback and identified a few issues to develop further as I turn this talk into a paper.

This conference was a great opportunity to connect with the broader community of social interaction researchers. I had the chance to see the huge variety of research projects being undertaken by researchers of varying levels of experience. I attended a talk given by of my own doctoral supervises Nur Binti Abdullah. Nur’s presentation went extremely well, I am sure she will take a lot of encouragement.

I also had the chance to meet with my former ‘boss’ Professor Tim Greer from Kobe University, Japan. Before becoming a full time member of staff at Newcastle University, I did a postdoc in Japan with Professor Greer. Aside from catching up with a good friend it was really useful to meet in person to discuss various ongoing research projects and to plot a few more!”

Written by Dr Chris Leyland, Lecturer in Applied Linguistics at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University.

A report on attending the Arabic Linguistic Forum Conference in York 2016

The second Arabic Linguistic Forum Conference which I attended was held at the University of York on the 12-14th December 2016; and sponsored by the Department of Language and Linguistics at the University of Essex and the Department of Language and Linguistic Science at the University of York. The conference presented useful research topics on Arabic linguistics including; for example, phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics, morphology, dialectology, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, etc.

Since my research is on the area of sociolinguistics, I, as a PhD student, would like to continue professional development in my field of study, as research on linguistics are changing and developing all the time. So, this conference provided me with a good opportunity to discuss and share experiences with other PhD students, researches, and education scientists in my field of study and other different fields in linguistics.

In addition, the conference was an ideal platform for me and other researchers to share our early results of our woks. The abstract which I submitted to the conference was on the area of bilingualism which would hopefully contribute to the knowledge and research on sociolinguistics. It was entitled ‘’ Bilingual Code Switching Patterns in Libyan Arabic-English School-Age Children: A Study of Code Switching Behaviour as an Indication of Linguistic and Communicative Competence’’. My abstract was published in the conference abstract booklet.

During the three days of the conference, there were am and pm sessions, each of which involved presenting different research topics on the above area of Arabic linguistics.  On the first day, I presented an oral presentation in my research for twenty minutes, followed by ten minutes questions and discussion. The discussion was in a friendly atmosphere and was successfully finished. In addition, between every am and pm sessions a cold buffet lunch was offered each day, including hot drinks during all breaks.

The conference included many participants and invited speakers from different universities from all over the world. So, it was a good chance for me to meet and build relationships with other researches and to share knowledge in different areas and get professional advice if I needed to. Moreover, this conference was my first conference to attend. It was really excellent experience, which made me looking forward to attending other organized conferences whenever possible.

Written by Gada I. B. Mahmud, PhD Student, School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University. 

Report on presentation at 2nd LITU-CULI international conference in Bangkok, Thailand

On 6-7 October 2016, Monthon Kanokpermpoon, or Moddy, a third year IPhD student in Educational and Applied Linguistics at ECLS, participated in and presented his paper at the 2nd LITU-CULI International Conference: ELT Unlimited at the Ambassador Hotel, Bangkok. The event featured research presentations in Applied Linguistics and TESOL in ASEAN and Thailand in particular, such as corpus-based analysis, communicative language teaching, language learning, computer-mediated language teaching, and so on. Plenary speakers were Professor Douglas Biber (Northern Arizona University), Dr Willy A Renandya (Nanyang Technical University, Singapore), Professor Winnie Chang (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University) and Dr Suwichit Chaidaroon (University of Westminster). There were about 200 international participants from different countries, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Iran, Australia, and more, and leading professionals in Applied Linguistics and TESOL participating in this conference.


Continue reading Report on presentation at 2nd LITU-CULI international conference in Bangkok, Thailand

Sociolinguistics Summer School 7 (SSS7)

Sociolinguistics Summer School 7 (SSS7) at Universite Lumiere Lyon 2 in France that I attended in June 2016, turned out to be a very welcoming place for postgraduate students to showcase and share their research. There I presented my study into implicit language ideologies in Belarus and felt privileged to be considered for a paper presentation among such high-class research projects.

Overall, the programme of SSS7 was very diverse and focused on language in society, whilst the papers presented by students covered a wide range of linguistic contexts and multiple methodological approaches. Having an opportunity to learn about new research in sociolinguistics gave me a better understanding of how broad the field is and how issues of language in society can be studied with different methods and understood from different perspectives.


Over the four days of SSS7 plenary sessions and workshops focused on language planning and policy, new speakers approach in sociolinguistics and researching endangered languages. In addition, data sessions were organised where I could share concerns with my data collection and analysis and get valuable feedback from both peers and plenary speakers.

Dr. Jim Walker talked about language policy as a field of enquiry and discussed work of the organisation dedicated to corpus planning of French language DGLFLF (Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France). This session not only gave an insightful overview of how language policies operate but was also a chance to reflect upon my own stance as a researcher of language and analyse my own bias in terms of intervention on language.

Dr. Bernadette O’Rourke talked about the concept of “new speaker” and its usefulness in modern sociolinguistic context. Indeed, research needs to address the ever-changing circumstances of multilingual speakers, such as globalisation, migration and transnational networking. Looking at speakers of minoritised languages from a new perspective can shed light on languages’ chances to survive and may have implications for language policies. This talk was extremely relevant to my own research which partly deals with indigenous languages: although indigenous languages are often claimed to be doomed, new speakers emerge in these ever changing societal conditions, a phenomenon well worth studying.


Dr. Benedicte Pivot focused on issues arising in ethnographical studies of endangered languages and revitalisation efforts in sociolinguistics. This session focused on operationalising concepts of language, speakers and community in qualitative research as well as practicalities of carrying interviews, surveys and documenting languages. The workshop on endangered languages contributed to critical understanding of the effects that researcher’s intervention can have on the community and their language.

In summary, this summer school was a great learning space for me that was friendly, including and fun to participate in thanks to the organising committee constituted by PhD students at Universite Lumiere Lyon 2. I would like to thank them and my supervisors who suggested attending this summer school. I believe this summer school will be of interest to many students at ECLS who pursue studies in multiple branches of sociolinguistics.

About the blogger

Written by Hanna Sliashynskaya, 1st years PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics in the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University.