InterTrainE Newsletter: January 2019

Welcome to the first newsletter of our Erasmus+ project Intercultural Training for Educators (InterTrainE). The 27-month project (2018-2020) is led by Heriot-Watt University and the Coordinator is Dr Katerina Strani from the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies.

InterTrainE includes 7 partners from 4 countries (UK, Finland, Italy and Greece) and aims to develop an intercultural training programme for educators teaching adult migrants.

The partners are:

Specifically, the project will develop a modularised training curriculum with qualification standards specialised for Adult Education. It will also produce a handbook for trainers including a theoretical framework of basic concepts, learning outcomes and the training package itself which will include practical exercises and, where possible, case studies. All the training materials will be uploaded to a MOOC.

A Joint Staff Training Event will take place in Rethymnon, Crete, in March 2020, where the partners will test the curriculum and training materials before these are finalised and presented at the Final Dissemination Conference in Edinburgh in September 2020.

Our kick-off meeting took place in Edinburgh on 22-23 October 2018.

Partners met at Heriot-Watt University‘s Riccarton campus and discussed the project’s timeline, milestones and deadlines. They agreed on the project logo and on the design of the website. Each partner gave an overview of the Intellectual Output that they would be leading. The project evaluation procedures were also finalised, and the procedure of appointing an external evaluator was agreed upon. The external evaluator for the project will be Dr Jim Crowther, Senior Lecturer in Community Education, University of Edinburgh. The full agenda of the meeting can be found here.


Progress and 1st Intellectual Output (IO1)

The first two Intellectual Outputs (IO1 and IO2) constitute a needs analysis. For IO1, Online questionnaires on educators’ and learners’ experiences and views on intercultural education in each country were designed and distributed. A database of stakeholders in every partner country was created for this purpose as well as for general dissemination purposes. The questionnaire data was collected, analysed and evaluated by each partner. National reports were drafted accordingly, and a project report was completed by CLP, who led this output, in December 2018.

The project report for IO1, which includes the questionnaire templates and findings from all countries participating in the project, can be found here.

2nd Intellectual Output (IO2)

The second phase of the needs analysis, which started in January 2019, includes:

  • background research for existing programmes on intercultural training for educators, aiming to point out the needs for update or the development of new material
  • semi-structured interviews of experts and educators in adult education in each partner country. Interviews are currently under way and the findings will be compared to existing data on qualifications and competences available.

National reports will be drafted, and the leading partner for this IO, Il Sicomoro, will compile the project report for IO2.

This is estimated to be ready in March – watch this space!


Our project website and social media accounts will soon be available, so stay tuned!

Next project meeting:

11-12 April 2019

Matera, Italy

Contact

For any questions or comments, please contact the project coordinator:

Dr Katerina Strani

Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies

Henry Prais Building

Heriot-Watt University

Edinburgh EH14 4AS

UK

Tel: +44 131 451 4216

A.Strani@hw.ac.uk

The INCS in LINCS

LINCS is not only about languages; it stands for Languages and INterCultural Studies and our core purpose is to create multilingual, multicultural, global citizens. To achieve this, the “INCS” in LINCS specialises in (inter)cultural studies such as living cultural heritage, language policy and intercultural communication.

Our Cultural Studies section manages the cultural studies courses and programmes we deliver. Courses include Global Heritage, Cross-Cultural perspectives on Society, Intercultural perspectives on Sustainable Development, as well as the Global Courses (taught in all HWU campuses) Intercultural Issues in Business and Management (Undergraduate), and Intercultural Communication in the Workplace (Postgraduate). It also manages our MSc Cultural Heritages programme family, which includes our MSc in Tourism and Heritage Management. Cultural Studies staff and students are also members of our Intercultural Research Centre (IRC).  

People

Staff

Katerina Strani is the Head of the Cultural Studies section. She has a background in Languages and Political Theory and her PhD thesis (2011) focused on communicative rationality in the public sphere. Her research is interdisciplinary and she is interested in how multilingualism and multiculturalism shape contemporary society and politics at all levels. Following an EU-funded project on hate speech and racism (RADAR), Katerina has developed a keen research interest in the concept of race, particularly race relations and the language of race. She teaches International Politics, Society and Institutions in Contemporary Europe, Intercultural Issues in Business and Management and Conference Interpreting. For a list of publications, please click here; for a list of funded projects, please click here.

Katerina is a Member of the Political Studies Association, the International Communications Association, the University Association of Contemporary European Studies and the Chartered Institute of Linguists. A.Strani@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @KaterinaStrani

Máiréad Nic Craith is Professor of European Culture and Heritage and she previously held a Chair in the School of Social Sciences and Applied Social Studies at the University of Ulster, as well as honorary professorships in other institutions in the UK and abroad. She has received many accolades for her publications, including the Ruth Michaelis-Jena Ratcliff research prize for folklife (joint winner), which was awarded at the University of Edinburgh in 2004. In 2009 she was elected to the Royal Irish Academy. Máiréad has served on numerous research evaluation panels in Europe, Canada and Australia. In 2011, she was invited by the United Nations as an expert on access to heritage as a human right. In 2013, she was invited by the European Centre on Minority Issues as an expert on (linguistic) minorities.

Máiréad’s research focuses on different aspects of living heritage including literary heritage (from the Great Blasket Island), intercultural heritage (Cork), World Heritage sites (Skellig Michael), heritage and conflict (Northern Ireland) and heritage and law in a European context.  For a complete list of Máiréad’s publications, please click here. M.NicCraith@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @mairead_nc

Ullrich Kockel is Professor of Cultural Ecology and Sustainability at HWU, as well as Emeritus Professor of Ethnology at the University of Ulster and Visiting Professor in Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas. He has a diverse academic and professional background, switching from a career in industrial management (Shell) to academic positions in Economics, Political Science, Sociology, and later Irish Studies and Ethnology. In 2003 he was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences and in 2012 he was elected to the Royal Irish Academy.

Ullrich’s overarching research interest is in sustainable local and regional development, especially the appraisal, planning and management of heritage and other cultural resources, approached from an interdisciplinary perspective rooted in anthropology, cultural ecology and political economy. He has conducted fieldwork and led projects throughout Europe. He is currently leading a work package in a €2.5m Horizon2020 project, CoHERE, on cultural forms and expressions of identity in Europe. For a complete list of Ullrich’s publications, please click here. U.Kockel@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @KockelU

Kerstin Pfeiffer is the Director of Undergraduate Teaching Programmes in LINCS and is a member of several committees at School and University level. She also represents the School of Social Sciences on Subject Panel B (Design, Visual Arts, Architecture, Creative Writing, Film, Drama & Theatre Studies, Cultural Policy (Policy, Arts Management & Creative Industries), Music, Television Studies) of the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities. She teaches courses in German language, history and culture at UG and PG level.

Kerstin’s research interests lie in the area of theatre and performance studies and particularly in the investigation of the afterlives of older dramatic forms and the role of drama in shaping, maintaining and challenging notions of identity and community. She has published on these topics and presented her research at many international conferences.

For a list of Kerstin’s publications, please click here. K.Pfeiffer@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @DrKPfeiffer

Cristina Clopot is Research Associate at the IRC, contributing to the Horizon2020 project, CoHERE: Critical Heritages: Performing and Representing Identities in Europe. Cristina’s work explores the intersection of heritage studies, folklore and anthropology, with a particular interest for themes such as: intangible heritage, festivals, tradition, rituals, ethnic and religious heritage. In 2014, she received the Estella Cranziani Post-Graduate Bursary for Research. Cristina is a member of the board and newsletter coordinator of the Intangible Cultural Heritage network of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies and a founding member of its new Early Career Researchers’ network. She also acts as Associate Editor (Social Media) for the Anthropological Journal of European Cultures. For a list of Cristina’s publications, please click here. C.Clopot@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @cris_clopot

Claudia V. Angelelli is Professor and Chair in Multilingualism and Communication. She is also Professor Emerita at San Diego State University and Visiting Professor at Beijing University of Foreign Studies. Her research sits at the intersection of sociolinguistics, applied linguistics and translation and interpreting studies. She designed the first empirically-driven language proficiency and interpreter readiness tests for The California Endowment and Hablamos Juntos (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). She has been PI in research projects in Argentina, Australia, the European Union, and the United States. She has also led ISO 13611: Standards on Community Interpreting and co-authored The California Standards for Health Care Interpreters. Ethical Principles, Protocols, and Guidance on Interpreter Roles and Interventions. She teaches Intercultural Communication in the Workplace and Translation and Interpreting Studies. For a full list of publications, please click here. C.Angelelli@hw.ac.uk

John Clearyis Associate Professor and Director of Studies for Exchange Programmes. With a background in Applied Linguistics, English and TESOL, John teaches British Culture & Society, Film Studies, Introduction to Languages and Intercultural Studies, and Society and Institutions in Contemporary Europe. He has coordinated many projects on internationalisation, pedagogy and intercultural communication in Europe, Turkmenistan and South-East Asia. For a list of John’s publications, please click here. J.A.Cleary@hw.ac.uk

PhD students

Chiara Cocco Cc80@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Festivals and folklore through the lens of affect and emotions: the case study of Sant’Efisio in Sardinia, supervised by Máiréad Nic Craithand Kerstin Pfeiffer

Chiara’s research explores the relationship between cultural heritage performance and collective identity construction. Drawing upon previous studies and theories which analysed national and cultural identity construction in sites of heritage and memory (Knudsen, 2011; Arnold-de Simine, 2013; Wight, 2016), in this research the focus shifts from museums to ceremonies. The thesis suggests that dynamic heritage avenues, such as folklore and festivals, could be also considered “places” of identity construction. It also explores the dynamics of identity construction and representation in festivals, through the lens of emotion and affect (Smith, 2006).  For this purpose, the research adopts the Festival of Sant’Efisio in Sardinia as its case study, mainly because of its popularity among Sardinian population and visitors, and its longevity (it has been celebrated in the island every year since 1656). Moreover, as a Sardinian woman who has been living in Scotland for over five years, Chiara considers this festival as part of her cultural heritage and Sardinian belonging. Her research is, therefore, also a means through which she can keep connected to her original home despite the physical distance. Twitter: @ChiaraCocco88

Jos Collins – jc120@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Living Tradition and Cultural Revival: Scottish Folk Drama in the 21st Century, supervised by Kerstin Pfeiffer, Gary West, Neill Martin and Donald Smith.

Jos’s research project results from a partnership between the IRC, Celtic and Scottish Studies (University of Edinburgh) and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS, Scottish Storytelling Centre). It examines the reasons behind the resurgence of interest in this old art form and folk custom and its cultural implications. It seeks to investigate the motivations for participants and what these can tell us about modern attitudes to concepts like tradition and authenticity. The main aim of the project is to explore the place of revived folk drama in contemporary Scottish society through the following objectives: to produce a survey of Scottish folk drama activities today; to examine community-led performances and related activities ethnographically; to evaluate the motivations and aspirations of participants and organisers and to assess their contribution to aspects of local identity, ideas of tradition, and community dynamics; to investigate how folk drama as a living practice contributes to developing conceptualisations of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Scotland; and to contribute to the newly emerging ‘Creative Ethnology’ movement led by the three institutions involved.

Naomi Harvey – neh1@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Collecting and preserving access to Intangible Cultural Heritage within the digital environment: Evaluating New Models for Scotland, supervised by Máiréad Nic Craith and Ullrich Kockel. Co-supervision from heritage specialists is provided by Alistair Bell, Sound Curator, National Library of Scotland and Scotland’s Sounds Project Manager, and Dr Hugh Hagan, National Records of Scotland, whose expertise includes oral history and community heritage.

This research is funded by the AHRC through the Scottish Cultural Heritage Consortium Scholarship, 2016-19. It critically examines issues surrounding digital preservation and access to ICH in Scotland, through the case study of Scotland’s Sounds. The project will examine how Scotland’s Sounds can ensure the sustainability of ICH sound collections, encompassing issues of: (1) collecting sound in a digital environment (2) digital access and preservation of sound material; (3) sustainable relationships between creators, community organisations and public institutions. The aim is to provide a theoretically informed critical analysis of the opportunities and challenges that advances in digital technology present for heritage organisations seeking to enhance the value, profile and understanding of ICH.  Twitter: @ArchiveGnome

Alastair Mackie – am279@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: ‘Becoming a smaller part of a larger whole: changing perceptions of European identity in the Scottish independence movement’, supervised by Katerina Strani and Ullrich Kockel.

This thesis explores how the perception and understanding of European identity has changed in Scotland since 2014. Is the adaptation of European identity for the purposes of supporting independence merely a poltiical, strategic use of collective identity, or has the debate on EU membership resulted in a wider transformation of the role of Europe in identity formation in Scotland? By means of ethnographic fieldwork, this project aims form a better understanding of the function of Europe within the identity formation of people in Scotland since the Brexit referendum. The thesis aims to link the ethnological study of European identity to concepts of vulnerability and shelter from small state studies. If Scotland were to become an independent state it would be considered a small state in Europe. Due to their size, small states have less resources than larger states, making them more vulnerable to their external environment. Small states may seek ‘shelter’ with larger states or international organisations to counteract their vulnerability. The thesis will ask how perceived vulnerability influences the formation of European identity and whether European identity offers a form of shelter by being conceptualised as a support for Scottish independence. Twitter: @asbmackie

Catherine McCullagh – cjm5@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: ‘Curating Heritage for Sustainable Communities in Highly Vulnerable Environments: The Case of Scotland’s Northern Isles’, supervised by Ullrich Kockel, Donna Heddle and Ian Tait.

Catherine is undertaking practice-based research with people in the archipelagos of Orkney and Shetland.  Her research is funded through an SGSAH ARC Studentship. The research practice is a project to co-curate a virtual museum of the Northern Isles, and is funded by Museums Galleries Scotland, the Hugh Fraser Foundation and Shetland Museum and Archives. Catherine’s interests include creative ethnology; exploring the radical politics of co-curation as a mode for communities mobilising shared authority and cultural democracy towards more socially just and sustainable futures; collaborative deliberation of value formation and social learning for sustainable development; identity-work; and developing new ways of knowing and working through praxis. For more information on Catherine’s background and research, click here. Twitter: @kittyjmac  

Michael Richardson – mr38@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Deaf people’s participation in theatre, supervised by Kerstin Pfeiffer and Svenja Wurm

Michael does research in Deaf people and the Performing Arts. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in medicine, but has also spent much of his career as a theatre practitioner, making a particular contribution to youth theatre. His book Youth Theatre, Drama for Life (Routledge) was published in 2015. His PhD thesis is exploring the participation of Deaf people in theatre. He has presented papers drawing on his research in conferences in events in Scotland, Ireland and France. For a list of Michael’s publications, please click here. Twitter: @mr38_richardson

Marc Romanomhr7@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Brexit and Heritage Futures in Scotland: The Auld Alliance – Establishing a Counter-Heritage, supervised by Katerina Strani andMáiréad Nic Craith

As one of the longest relationship in the history, the Auld Alliance challenges the recent Brexit discourse, which seeks to establish a new geography outside of Europe. In its pursuit of a separatist utopia free from bonds of European policy, Brexit offers a fictionalised geography that denies Scotland’s seven centuries of European cultural belonging. Marc’s PhD research is an exploration of the Auld Alliance as a re-reading of Scotland’s heritage discourse with a view to establishing a counter-heritage (to that which lies in the wings post-Brexit), one that establishes an identity that cannot readily disentangle itself from European culture. In a country where almost 20% of its population are in fact from foreign origin and in which 5% of the total population came from European Union, such political discourse endangers its multicultural stability. Perhaps it is reflection of why Scotland voted to remain at 63%.  

Ozge Yalinay oy30@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Interpreting Istanbul Grand Bazaar as a traditional marketplace: contemporary cultural discourse, supervised by Babak Taheri and Máiréad Nic Craith

This research is intrigued by work of cultural discourse scholars, including Foucault, Said and Bakhtin, whose theory of cultural consumption space provides with the conceptual vocabularies such as ‘orientalism’ and the ‘third space’. These spaces are unusual, anti-structured and exceptional. Framed within such notions, the material and imaginary landscape of Istanbul Bazaar offers such venue for cultural consumption experience in non-Western context. The primary aim of this study is to bring together contemporary cultural discourse in a traditional marketplace, with particular focus on the Istanbul Bazaar, testing the usefulness of such theory as an interpretive framework in a specific exceptional space in non-Western context. More specifically, this study aims to offer insight into an understanding of  Western consumers’ journey and experience, examining the dynamic process that flows from pre-visit to post-visit. The mixed-method approach is used to collect data from both visitors and locals in order to answer the aim of this study. The qualitative approach is applied using observation, netnography and interviews, while the quantitative approach is applied using questionnaires. For a list of Ozge’s publications, please click here.

By Katerina Strani

Exploring family language policy in deaf-hearing mixed families

By Jemina Napier, Annelies Kusters & Maartje De Meulder

Click here to see this blogpost in International Sign.

We are a team of three mothers and academics (two deaf and one hearing) who sign in our every day lives, including at home. In this project we pool our different academic backgrounds and collective expertise in sign language policy, multilingualism and language brokering (interpreting).

This research project looks at ‘family language policy’ (FLP), more specifically the language practices and language ideologies of bimodal multilingual deaf/hearing families against the backdrop of wider discourses. Previous research on family sign language policy has traditionally focused on hearing parents of deaf children not having prior access to sign language (who are often not fluent signers) and using different methods such as surveys and interviews. Also, previous research has mainly focused on language acquisition of deaf babies and young children.This project is different, focusing on hearing children above 2 years old, who are already bilingual or multilingual and use different signed and spoken languages, and are growing up with a mix of deaf and/or hearing parents and deaf and/or hearing grandparents.

We received funding from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland to conduct a pilot study, running from September 2018 till September 2019. The aim is to do this pilot study with a view to leading to a larger study, to explore research methods and themes before final commitment to the research design. We decided to do the pilot study in our own families because in each family, deafness and sign languages are distributed differently as seen in the Figure below (deaf people in grey, hearing in white), and we each use multiple languages and modalities within our mixed deaf-hearing families across different generations.

Family 1: Jemina and her partner and daughter are all hearing, but the four grandparents are deaf. In Family 2: Annelies and her partner are both deaf, her partner’s parents are deaf, and her parents and her two children are hearing. Family 3: Maartje is deaf, her partner is hearing and their children are hearing. All grandparents are also hearing. Family 1 and 2 live in Scotland, UK and Family 3 lives in Flanders, Belgium. Deafness is actually more widely distributed in all three extended families (eg. siblings,aunts, cousins) but since the scope of this study is limited, we choose to focus on children-parents-grandparents units, and we aim to include wider social networks including other family members and friends in a future study.All families use one or more sign languages in the space of the home. In total there are four spoken languages and four sign languages in use: English, Dutch,German, Marathi, British Sign Language (BSL), Indian Sign Language (ISL),Flemish Sign Language (VGT) and International Sign (IS). While the deaf and hearing children and parents in the study are all fluent signers, the grandparents involved in the study have various signing abilities.

Family language policy is intimate and we already have a deep understanding of our family dynamics and contexts. This means we don’t need a long period of immersion first, and are not “strange” researchers coming into families. We are making ethnographic video recordings in our family interactions (see examples below), mostly at mealtimes and at story time, in different contexts such as everyday contexts in the home, or when grandparents visit. In a later stage of the project (April-June 2019) we will include language biographies of the families (and diary extracts on earlier language choice decisions) and interviews to elicit explicit language ideologies (researchers will interview each other, and each other’s relatives).We also will use visual methods such as children’s drawings and language portraits.

While we have the support of three research assistants, each of us is initially annotating their own family interactional data in ELAN annotation software because of the intimacy of FLP and the high context involved (it is often very hard for outsiders to understand signed family communication). One of the researchers’ partners (Annelies’ partner, Sujit Sahasrabudhe) is also involved in annotating data recorded in their own family. The data are checked by two hearing research assistants who annotate when voice is used (normal, loud, or as a whisper) or annotate speech. In the analysis we focus on which languages/modalities are used in which contexts, and on switches between (and combining) languages and language modalities.

We can share a few findings so far based on our preliminary analysis of data:

  • FLP is much more complex than using X different signed/spoken languages at home. Real data are “messy”. There are few clean “switches” with person X always using language/modality Y, and the relationship between person X and language/modality Y is not binary.
  • One of the other interesting things we have noticed is the relationship between eye gaze and sensory differences and the impact on choice of modality (whether someone chooses to use their voice or not). For example, who they are looking at, whether they are deaf or hearing, and how that influences the way they decide to communicate. It is also striking how much signing is accessed from peripheral vision (eg when telling stories) rather than through direct eye contact.
  • We noted how important and frequent touch is in family language communication, more so than is the case in general in sign language communication between deaf and hearing sighted signers. For example, people sign on each other’s body (such as making a sign on a small child’s body or face), touch a small child’s throat (in combination with lip reading) to try to decipher what the child is saying, touch the throat of a hearing child who is singing or humming a song to feel the rhythm. Another example is a mother who’s in conversation with someone when their child asks for attention, holding and rubbing their child’s hand in order to let them know that they are aware the child wants attention and asking them to wait for a bit.

It is clear that we have an extremely rich data set, so we are looking forward to exploring it further. So watch this space,and we will provide a further update further on in the project. But if you would like any further information, please feel free to contact any of us.

*This blog post was first published on Maartje De Meulder’s website on 5th December 2018: https://maartjedemeulder.be/2018/12/05/exploring-family-language-policy-in-deaf-hearing-mixed-families/

Sign language researchers talk research!

By Jemina Napier

Click here to see a version of this blogpost in British Sign Language (BSL).

While I am on research sabbatical from Heriot-Watt University I am fortunate to be spending my time as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh (see here for overview of what I am working on).

As part of my fellowship I have been able to avail of IASH facilities to organize a workshop with a leading scholar in the field of Deaf Studies, Dr Annelies Kusters, to bring together a small group of researchers who work with sign language data. The 2-day workshop took place on 25-26 October 2018 and was by invitation only. Our priority was to invite deaf and hearing researchers that are fluent British Sign Language (BSL) users, and who are currently grappling with issues either to do with the analysis of qualitative sign language data, or are exploring new and innovative qualitative research methods. One of the reasons we wanted to ensure that everyone is a fluent BSL user is because we wanted to avoid holding discussions through interpreters, to allow for more in-depth and organic discussions. And this certainly worked!

The majority of the 12 attendees were my colleagues and PhD students from the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University, but we also had several attendees from other UK universities and also one Finnish university.

The first day (Thursday) was dedicated to the discussion of different approaches to data analysis, and the second day (Friday) was devoted to methodologies. Each participant was asked to give a 15-minute presentation about their topic and we built in plenty of time for discussion. The projects being conducted by the group range from experiences of deaf people seeking asylum in Finland, documentation of Indonesian Sign Language, explorations of professional and labour migration among deaf sign language users, family sign language policy, deaf tourism in Bali, video remote sign language interpreting in police settings, different perceptions of sign language interpreting, and experiences of deaf business owners, deaf professionals and deaf parents in social work contexts. As you would expect, such a range of projects calls for a range of approaches to data analysis and methodologies. Over the two days the following key issues were discussed:

  • How and whether to anonymise video data
  • Whether to directly code from sign language data or translate and code from written (representative) texts – and if so what and how to translate
  • Use of different software for coding (such as ELAN, Atlas.ti or N-Vivo)
  • Processes for deciding what and how to code
  • How to code observational fieldnotes, and saturation of observational data
  • Thematic coding as an organic or planned process
  • Using visual methods for data collection and analysis – eco-maps, photos, film-making, social media networking sites
  • Data coding fatigue
  • Benefits of documenting analytical decisions as part of the research process
  • Value of having conversations with others about coding/ annotation/ analytical processes
  • Challenges of how and what to code
  • Power dynamics in interviewing participants
  • Positionality and the observer’s paradox
  • Reflexivity in planning, reviewing data collection and data analysis
  • Ethics of recruiting and interviewing disadvantaged people, and methods for gaining consent
  • Building rapport and trust with research participants
  • How to create semi-authentic simulations of sign language (interpreted) interactions
  • Interviewing directly or through interpreters
  • Methods for taking fieldnotes

This exploratory workshop was a huge success, so we hope to make it an annual event, and open it up to other sign language researchers. Many of the issues we dissected are not unique to sign language researchers by any means, but being able to come together and have the space to have open and frank conversations about our work in sign language was a rare and much valued opportunity. We are considering a proposal for an edited volume based on the format of this workshop, so hopefully that will be a book that we can add to the IASH library one day!

 

This blogpost was first posted on the IASH website on 6th November 2018: http://www.iash.ed.ac.uk/news/sign-language-researchers-talk-research

 

Moving Languages project finished!

by Katerina Strani

We are very pleased to announce that our EU-funded Moving Languages project has now come to an end! The 27-month project (2016-2018), led by Learnmera Oy in Finland with LINCS at Heriot-Watt as a partner, developed a free mobile application designed to help new migrants learn the host language(s) and familiarise themselves with culture-specific vocabulary and concepts. A user-friendly, versatile and comprehensive app, it also aims to encourage people to learn other languages and promote understanding between cultures.

The Moving Languages app provides a gamified language- and culture-learning tool. It contains 4000+ illustrated vocabulary items for easy concept recognition, grammar exercises, flashcards, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, culture, administration, health and immigration tabs, dialogues with audio, audio spelling and comprehension tests and many other features. The app covers topics that are essential during the first steps of living in the host country. 

Users can learn English, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Finnish (main languages) from 20 support languages widely spoken by refugees/migrants in partner countries:

Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Estonian, French, Hungarian, Kurdish (Sorani), Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Tigrinya, Turkish, Ukranian, and Urdu

They can also use the main languages as support languages if they wishes. This means that if you download the English app, you can learn English from 25 languages in total.

 

We launched the app at an event held in June 2018 and held our final meeting in Bilbao on 4th October 2018 to finalise the app and the project. It has been a pleasure to work with our international partners in this project and to engage with users who have tried our app.

The project may have ended, but our apps will be available for free for the next 3 years, so please download them, try them, and send us your feedback!

You can download the English app here:

iOS https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/moving-languages-uk/id1389806713?mt=8

Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ml.english

To download the Spanish, German, Italian, Finnish and Swedish language apps, please click here.

For a step-by-step guide on how to use the app, please click here

For more information, contact the UK coordinator, Dr Katerina Strani A.Strani@hw.ac.uk or the project coordinator Veronica Gelfgren Veronica@learnmera.com

Website: http://www.movinglanguages.eu/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/movinglanguages/

LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8580234

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/movinglanguages/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MovLanguages

Translating and Interpreting in Modern Times: The Impact of Technology

by Lucas Pira

On Wednesday 3rd October, to celebrate International Translation Day, the Heriot-Watt Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS) hosted a symposium on a topic that will dominate the translation and interpreting conversation for years to come: technology. CTISS director, Jemina Napier, and Head of French Section, Fanny Chouc, organised an event that featured three interesting and insightful presentations by Rebecca Elder, Robert Skinner and Sarah Fisher, on the place of technology in the daily life of a translator or interpreter.

Rebecca Elder, a recent HWU graduate and now freelance translator, showed us how she uses technology for work purposes. She also gave us an insight into the way she works and provided some helpful tips for starting a career as a Freelance translator by tackling seven specific challenges.  To the question, “Is technology a friend or foe?” Rebecca stated she does not think technology will replace translators anytime soon but new tasks such as post editing of machine translation will have to be taken into consideration. She also underlined the importance of having a CAT tool before moving on to discuss how to technology can help establish a presence on the market and overcome a lack of experience, or what is popularly referred to as “impostor syndrome”. Rebecca’s presentation was an invaluable source of information, giving precious advice, derived from her own experiences, on how to begin a career as a freelance translator.

Robert Skinner, a current PHD student at HWU and professional BSL interpreter, discussed video-mediated interpreting for non-emergency calls to the police. BSL interpreters have long been at the forefront of technology, but even so, Robert revealed how interpreters and users still face a number of challenges with Video Relay Services and Video Remote Interpreting. BSL interpreters working remotely, for example, have to think about how they introduce themselves to the user. He gave us an example of an Italian interpreter who practically assumed the role of a Police officer. Interpreters also have to think about how they communicate with the police and deaf users at the same time, often forced to speak two languages simultaneously.

Our final speaker, Sarah Fisher, a former HWU MSc student & professional conference interpreter, talked about conference interpreters’ perceptions of the impact of technology on their work. Her research focusses on the use of technology in the booth among interpreters and on the sociocultural impact technology has on the profession.  Sarah has conducted numerous interviews with practicing interpreters, revealing an overall increase in the use of technology in this field. Nowadays, interpreters bring their laptops to facilitate their task, and they also make the most of social media, both as a way to build their own profiles and to stay connected to other interpreting professionals. According to her data, however, conference interpreters value these tools as back up rather than as something that will replace the traditional pen-and-paper toolkit.

Most interestingly, conference interpreters seem to have a keen sense of the sociocultural aspects of technology and the negative impact it has on the profession. Sarah revealed that there is a growing sense that technology has a negative impact on the visibility of interpreting professionals, who worry that they’ll be viewed as just “a voice that could be anywhere, that could be anyone.” Perhaps this is why technology is such an important area, and one that needs to be discussed further and in broader terms, because some of the perceived challenges translators and interpreters face in this new technological age can only be overcome by viewing technology as an ally rather than an enemy.

Heriot-Watt trained interpreters at the 2018 Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival

By Ramón Inglada

As Scotland-based Spanish film lovers are well aware, early October marks the arrival of the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival. The Edinburgh leg of the 2018 edition of the festival took place in the Scottish capital between October 4-13, before moving on to Glasgow until October 20, and including a showing in Stirling on October 7. This cinematic event showcased some of the most interesting, exciting and thought-provoking examples of recent Spanish cinema. Highlights included Handia, shown on opening night and shot mainly in Basque, Hopelessly Devout, a hilarious comedy presented at the festival by José María Conde, head of the Spanish section in LINCS, and the gripping thriller Mist & the Maiden, based on a book by acclaimed writer Lorenzo Silva and for which LINCS lecturer Leyla Navarrete did an outstanding job as an interpreter for the Q&A session after the film.

Once more, the festival was the perfect platform for further collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University. It was also the ideal setting for LINCS volunteer interpreters (María San Juan, Marina González, Eilidh MacLachlan and Carmen Acosta), who were carefully chosen among our current and past cohort of MSc and Honours students, to show their interpreting skills in a high-profile event.

At LINCS we are very proud of the key role played by our volunteer interpreters and also of our participation as major sponsors of the festival. We are already looking forward to next year’s edition!

 

Sign language interpreting in employment settings: Dissemination and training DESIGNS project update October 2018

By Audrey Cameron & Jemina Napier

Link to version in BSL to be embedded in the website: https://youtu.be/8hJKNgOVbjc

In this blogpost, Jemina Napier and Audrey Cameron provide an update on the work that has been done on the DESIGNS project (promoting access in employment for deaf people) since our last blog/vlog in May 2018.

 

The past 5 months, work has focused on analysis of the interview data and writing the project report for the European Commission and also disseminating the project data:

  1. Facebook livestream event in June 2018 with 1,800 viewers
  2. efsli conference in Croatia in September 2018 – where the theme was Interpreters working in employment”.
  3. Association of Sign Language Interpreters (ASLI)’s webinar in September 2018

 

We are now working on developing training materials for employers and sign language interpreters working with deaf people.  There will be two workshops, one in November and another in December:

  1.  Employers’ workshop in partnership with Vercida
  2. Sign language interpreters’ workshop in partnership with Deaf Action

The next update is due in the New Year.

Below is an English translation of the update that was presented in BSL.

Audrey:  We just wanted to update you about some of the exciting work we have been doing on the DESIGNS project over the past 5 months.  We have both been busy attending events and letting people know about the project.  The report for the European Commission is almost completed and then, after it has formally been presented to them, it will be made available for people to look at.

Jemina:  Do you remember back in May, Audrey and I were talking about some of the things we had planned?  Well, one of those was a Facebook livestream event, which we did the following month, with Mette Sommer, and Emmy Kauling; Audrey and I talked about the research we are doing here as part of the DESIGNS project and the other two explained about the research they were doing which is about also about deaf people and employment. Amazingly, we got 1,800 views, with people either watching it live, or afterwards when it had been uploaded.  So, if you haven’t yet seen it and you’re interested, go to Heriot Watt ‘Life in LINCS’ Facebook page and you’ll see the uploaded video there… wow, when I think about it, one thousand eight hundred views, that’s a lot!

Audrey:  I do think that livestreaming is a good way of connecting with the Deaf community and keeping people informed.  Whereas in the past, we would need a room and invite people along, this way we can let everybody throughout the whole of the UK know what is going on all at the same time.  The other advantage with livestreaming are the questions that people post, which we were then able to respond live and in real time.

Jemina:  That’s right, people typed in their comments and they would then pop up – we relayed their questions to everyone in BSL and were able to respond; it is really interactive.

Audrey:  What was also good about it was that we had our PowerPoint slides displayed behind us, so that people watching could see the information we were referring to, so hopefully we will line up a few more of those in the coming months.

After the live stream event I went to Croatia for the Efsli (the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters) conference in Dubrovnik – where the theme was ‘Interpreters working in Employment’ which is obviously the focus of the DESIGNS project.  I went to represent the team here in the UK and my colleagues from both Germany and Ireland were also there, along with 300 delegates, most of whom were interpreters from all over Europe.  It was fascinating – at the very start of the conference we all took our seats and then the question was asked ‘Who here is from England?’ and they would stand up and everyone would wave. There were loads of different countries represented, I’d say about 30, not just in Europe but from around the world, from Australia, America, Canada, Mexico… it was great for us being able to present the data from this project to so many people; for some it was probably something to bear in mind if they’re looking to improve things in back in their own countries; for others it might have been a reminder that they’d had similar experiences in the past.

Jemina:  You gave a presentation at the conference…

Audrey:  … yes, along with Christian Rathmann. We had about half an hour to talk about the project.  There was one presentation by two designated interpreters from Austria working with a deaf pharmacist.  They talked about what it was like – that was good.

What else? This year was the first time they had interpreters from Russia at the conference – there was a booth at the back of the room with an interpreter plugged in with a head mic working into Russian, so that was something a bit different.  The presentation from Russia was amazing. They showed a film of all these factories in Russia which have many deaf people working in them and who then all live nearby.  There were also photos and apparently, the ratio of interpreters to deaf people is one in fifty. The conference was good and over the two days, there were many references made to deaf employment.

Jemina:  After the conference and all those presentations, I recently delivered a training webinar for ASLI, the interpreting association here in the UK.  I gave a presentation and facilitated a discussion online and I think we had about 40 participants watching.  I explained to them all about the DESIGNS project and picked out some themes from a Europe-wide perspective. Then we focussed in on the UK and I explained how we’d interviewed deaf people, employers and interpreters, so I was talking to them about BSL interpreters and what we’d found here in the UK.  It was interesting – there were lots of questions; they were looking for any tips we might have that could help improve things, because they are all too aware of the barriers.  Whilst the government makes money available via ATW that does not mean that interpreters are automatically provided and everything goes smoothly, so it was interesting to have that discussion with them, and the feedback from the session was good as well.

Audrey: … and that’s why we’re looking to arrange further training sessions like that including a session in November for employers, because of them don’t know how to recruit deaf people or how to work with interpreters. We are doing that in partnership with Vercida…

Jemina: … Yes, they provide a platform to support employers to recruit disabled people across the board; they have really supported us a lot with this project, helping us to make contact with employers.

Audrey:  We are also going to work in with them to set the training for employers and when we have something, we feel works well, we will make it available online and then it will be shared with everyone…

Jemina: … that will act as a pilot. Then we will be doing training for interpreters here in Scotland in partnership with Deaf Action in Edinburgh, where they have an employment service and an interpreting service.  The training will be more practical, as opposed to the Asli webinar, which had more of a presentational style, sharing the data and the findings and etc. This will be much more ‘hands on’ for working interpreters.  We are hoping to have about 20 interpreters at the session in December.

Audrey:   We will be taking all the data we have gathered from the interviews we have conducted and sharing that with employers and interpreters.

Our next whole team project meeting is in Antwerp in Belgium in December where we will be discussing next steps.

Jemina:  Plus as a project team we’ll delivering training in partnership with efsli for interpreters from all over Europe and those who train interpreters; that will build on what we’ve done so far and we’ll do that while we’re there in Antwerp. Then a week later, we will both be delivering training here in the UK.

So that’s pretty much everything we are doing…

Audrey:  I am looking forward to it. The training is important if we are to start removing the barriers that deaf people face trying to find employment and it is why we are setting that up for employers and interpreters. The training for deaf people will be starting next year, isn’t that right?

Jemina:  Yes, exciting times, so keep an eye out for further updates!

 

*Thanks to Ramon Woolfe for sharing his photos taken at the efsli event.

A visit from Brussels

LINCS had the pleasure of welcoming back Cathy Pearson this September, following her visit in May during the CIUTI conference. This time, Cathy was visiting the department with her SCIC trainer cap on, as our application for pedagogical assistance from the EU Directorate General for Interpretation (also known as “SCIC”) was successful. 

The European Union is the largest employer in the world for conference interpreters, and DGI SCIC has a long-standing commitment to cooperating with top conference interpreting training universities across Europe and beyond through a range of initiatives. 

Pedagogical Assistance is one of them, and as such, DGI SCIC send EU professional interpreters and trainers like Cathy to partner universities in order to support the training of students at different stages. Cathy is an experienced conference interpreter and trainer, who has worked across the EU and the world for the English booth, interpreting for prestigious EU summits or supporting training programmes in many conference interpreting higher institutions. 

As our MSc students are, for the most part, just starting to acquire the core skills they need to become interpreters, the focus of this visit has been on note-taking for interpreting purposes. Cathy delivered a masterclass, which was also open to our M.A. students returning from their year abroad, and keen to revisit the training they already had in 2nd year for this essential skill.  

Note-taking may sound like something all students should have mastered by their final year, but in fact, the type of notes interpreters take is completely different from what you would use during a lecture. Interpreters must develop excellent instant analytical skills and only use notes to prompt their short-term memory, as their attention has to be on active listening. Therefore, they need to develop a quick, efficient and sparing note-taking system they can rely on to faithfully re-do the speech they heard in a given language. The masterclass included demonstrations and practical exercises, which were explored further in workshops with MSc students. 

To complement this intensive practice, Cathy also gave a very insightful and focused talk on the pathway to become an EU interpreter (facebook live video available on the LINCS page). In this session, she highlighted what students should focus on to achieve their professional goal, stressing that they must, first and foremost, have a perfect command of their mother-tongue, since it is the language into which an interpreter would work the most. She also provided detailed information on the recruitment process and language combinations sought after by the EU at the moment, and showed the excellent resources developed by the EU for trainees and applicants who have been invited to take the pre-selection and accreditation test. This was a particular point of interest to alumni currently going through this recruitment process. 

But Cathy’s visit is only the starting point of our programme of training initiatives in partnership with SCIC this year: students will also be able to benefit from further guidance from EU interpreter through virtual classes, with the first of these sessions taking place at the start of October. 

For more information on our MA programmes in conference interpreting, click here.  To find out about our MSc conference interpreting programmes, click here 

On audio-recorded presentations, Australian accents, and translated deaf selves

By: Annelies Kusters and Jemina Napier

International Sign version: https://vimeo.com/289892708

This blogpost was originally posted on the Mobile Deaf website on Friday 14th September 2018. See: http://mobiledeaf.org.uk/on-audio/

Annelies:

What do people think when they see a signing person on stage, and hear a simultaneous interpretation?

On Thursday 6 September, I gave a keynote presentation at BAAL titled “Sign multilingual and translingual practices and ideologies”. It was the first presentation of the conference and a number of people tweeted. One of the tweets read:

I wasn’t using a pre-recorded audio-file from which I was interpreting myself. I am a deaf scholar. I presented in British Sign Language and was interpreted into spoken English by Jemina Napier. This is the typical practice for deaf academics presenting at conferences.

My deaf colleagues, the team of interpreters and I initially laughed at the misunderstanding, and the Tweeter also realised his mistake quickly, writing:

However, rather than just waving it away as the umpteenth ignorant comment about deaf people, another funny anecdote to share with my friends, this also made me think. I am in a pivotal moment in my academic career in that I’m becoming more visible. Did it even occur to the Tweeter that I was deaf, and that me signing my presentation in British Sign Language was not an attempt at being innovative but simply the best option at hand (sic) for me? In other words: why not assume immediately that this signing person on stage in a mainstream conference is most probably deaf? Do people not think that deaf people can be academics who can get invited as keynote presenters in this kind of conferences?

Example two. During one of the breaks at the same BAAL conference, another scholar from another British university approached me. He said he had seen me on the screen: the hall where the keynote happened was full and he was watching the livestream in another room. Apparently he initially thought I was speaking and signing at the same time, and was puzzled about my Australian accent. Only later, he realised that I was working with an interpreter (and if I would have an accent in English, a language I do write but not speak, it would certainly not sound Australian!).

Example three. After another applied linguistics conference where I gave a keynote earlier this year, the TLANG closing event, someone wrote about my keynote presentation “Her keynote was an especially engaging end to the day as it was impressively and seamlessly presented in both sign language and spoken English.“ (https://channelviewpublications.wordpress.com/2018/04/04/communication-in-the-multilingual-city-the-tlang-conference/)

At that conference, I was interpreted into English by Christopher Stone. A simultaneous interpretation is not a simultaneous presentation1.

Example four. I taught in a summer school in Denmark a few years ago. I was teaching in International Sign and two interpreters were interpreting into spoken English. Several students thought that the interpreters were the teachers, and that I was the interpreter. And this was on (already) day three of the five day summer school. Go figure.