LINCS welcomed once again the pupils from Larbert High’s School of Languages

By Fanny Chouc

As part of this long-standing cooperation, S1 to S4 pupils visit campus several times a year and get a chance to consolidate their French and Spanish, but also to broaden their knowledge and understanding of languages and cultures.

This scheme was initially set up as a collaborative project to work towards the implementation of the government’s 1+2 policy, and it’s one of the many innovative ways in which LINCS engages with local communities in order to inspire young generations of learners. The project was initiated by Mr Meikle, one of LINCS’s graduates, who is now Depute Rector at  Larbert High, and it has been beneficial to both institutions: young learners with a taste for languages get a chance to further their skills by working with native speakers and talented university students, while discovering our campus, and Heriot-Watt students and Erasmus students and interns get a chance to share their culture and passion for languages, whilst gaining some valuable teaching experience. This collaboration has benefited our graduates and students further, as Larbert High has welcomed some of them as volunteers for some shadowing and classroom experience, like Mrs More. She has been accompanying the groups to her alma mater and this experience enriched her CV; she’s since secured a place on a teacher training postgraduate programme of studies.

So what do pupils do when they visit LINCS?

They engage in a range of activities geared both towards practice, with applied classes in French and Spanish related to their curriculum, but since LINCS is a also very global department, with expertise in multilingualism and multiculturalism, we use the in-house expertise to broaden these young linguists’ horizons.

For instance, during their latest visit, S2 and S3 pupils got an insight into British Sign Language learning, thanks to two of our Honours students from the BSL degree in Interpreting, Translation and Applied Languages Studies. Lou and Louise explained how they came to study this language, how the learning experience is designed and the skills they developed along the way, and pupils’ curiosity was clearly peeked: they asked questions about the language, but also about the deaf community and culture.

Thanks to our Erasmus + intern from Mons University, Nathanaël Stilmant, these two groups also discovered another French-speaking country, Belgium. As part of this session, very much focused on the multilingual nature of this country, pupils also had a chance to learn some Dutch and Walloon.

S4 pupils, who are already thinking of exams, worked on their Spanish with two of our Honours students: Simon and Rachel devised activities around their curriculum, but also shared anecdotes about their experience as students at Heriot-Watt and as Erasmus students abroad, since the M.A. includes two semesters of study in one of our partner institutions on the continent or beyond. This helped young learners consider the importance of a global profile, at a stage when they are making important study choices and are starting to think about higher education.

As for S1 pupils, after a French session with one of our enthusiastic 2nd year, Samuel, they went on an adventure on campus: armed with audio clues in French, they explored the grounds, collecting information along the way, in a bid to crack a code to work out the secret message they had been given. This cross-disciplinary and fun approach gave them a glimpse into the daily life of students as they went from one place to the next, and this discovery experience is also part of a joint bid to make young pupils think about university studies from an early age. It was also a chance for them to realise that languages and STEM subjects often complement each other well: code-breaking has historically been done by linguists as much as scientists; for instance, many of the talented code-breakers who worked in Bletchley Park during World War II were linguists, and worked alongside mathematicians to crack and decipher codes used by enemies to communicate.

But more exciting opportunities lay in store: for their next visits, pupils will get a chance to visit the Confucius Institute for Business and to learn some Esperanto, to name but a few of the activities LINCS has in store for them.

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

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.

My work experience in LINCS, Heriot-Watt

By Aurora Sani, LINCS intern during May-June 2018

When I heard that I had to undertake my internship at Heriot-Watt University, I was excited, but at the same time a bit scared. I didn’t know what to except from a great University such as Heriot-Watt. My teacher said that I was lucky because this opportunity comes only once in our lives. Now, after the five weeks I’ve spent here, I can agree with her because it has been the best opportunity of my life. I will never be able to show my full gratitude.

Heriot-Watt University gave me the chance to mature and improve myself. In fact, thanks to this working experience, I haven’t improved only my English, but other important skills, such as computer skills, social and communicative skills. I had the possibility to get familiar with the world of one of the most important universities for Interpreting and Translations. The most exciting thing was walking around the Campus and seeing people from all over the world.

Heriot-Watt is a wonderful mixture of different cultures where you can hear people speaking several languages and spreading their own customs.

Since the very first day, I met kind and approachable staff who were always ready to help me. They were pleasure to work with. During these weeks I worked with many people in different areas of employment. I helped with the preparations of the international conference of CIUTI where I could meet important professors coming from the most important Universities of the world.  I helped with the launch of the Moving Languages app, which I found the most interesting thing. I appreciated even the simplest tasks like replying emails or creating posters because I saw them as a way to improve my expressions and my English.

I always felt comfortable. All the employees and professors made me feel like an adult, despite my young age. At first I was surprised by their confidence and trust in me, but at the end I understood that nothing was impossible, and I could do everything if only I wanted it.

Thanks to this work experience, I became more confident and more responsible. I gained more security in my spoken English and in my abilities. I have been the blessed with finding this amazing workplace which gave me more than I’d hoped for.

I really want to thank everyone I met during this experience because each of them taught me something valuable. But, above all, I want to thank my supervisor, Katerina Strani. She is such a kind person, who always cared about me and made me feel positive.

It has been an honour for me to spend more than a month in this University and work with such wonderful people. I will never forget this great opportunity and I am sure that it will be very useful for my future as I’m interested in potentially returning to study at Heriot-Watt.

I really enjoyed all the time spent here, and I will treasure it always!

Aurora Sani

Aurora has been a joy to work with. She was efficient and punctual, and never afraid of a new challenge. She helped us with major tasks relating to theCIUTI conference, our Summer School in Skills Development for Translators and Interpreters, Summer School in Applied English and Interpreting, the Moving Languages projectand its English application launch, and with the pre-sessional social events programme. We will miss Aurora and wish her all the best! We really hope to welcome her back as one of our students next year.

Aurora Sani’s internship was funded by Erasmus+ and coordinated by Creative Learning Programmes.

 

Workshops on Critical Discourse Analysis – beyond academia

By Katerina Strani

Social inequalities are systemic, deep rooted, and constructed. One of the most powerful ways of constructing and reproducing inequality is through discourse, which is ingrained in everyday communication, perpetuated by the media, established as the norm or as ‘common sense’. A group of Edinburgh University academics, independent researchers and activists decided to run workshops on how language promotes inequality, and they asked me to participate because I had delivered a workshop session for them back in February 2017.

The project, entitled “Critical Discourse Analysis – How Language Promotes Inequality” and led by Dr Callum McGregor and Dr Jim Crowther, received funding from the Global Justice Academy and consisted of three workshops aimed at researchers, practitioners, community workers and activists. The workshops focused on language and power, and how Critical Discourse Analysis can help unveil the power structures that underlie or are promoted by language and discursive strategies. The aim was to show how aspects of CDA can be used to recognise and resist power structures that aim to dominate and oppress. Each workshop ended with a reflection of how this can be done.

The first workshop took place in early April and included inputs by Dr John Player (independent researcher) on Hegemony and Discourse,  Dr Joan Cutting on Engaging with CDA, and by poet and performer Petra Reid, who composed a poem on the day’s topic and discussions and performed it at the end.

Dr Katerina Strani and Dr Jim Crowther at the first workshop

Dr Joan Cutting at the first workshop

Petra Reid performing at the first workshop

The second workshop took place in early April and included sessions by Dr John Player, by me, and a group discussion in World Café style. I chose not to talk about CDA, as I’m not an expert, but to focus on Membership Categorisation Analysis instead, which is a lesser-used method closely connected to Conversation Analysis. MCA is particularly useful when looking at membership, representation and identity.

/var/folders/cb/0mjyrcf91qgb_tvv4rtwvyqc0000gn/T/com.microsoft.Word/WebArchiveCopyPasteTempFiles/DbOdGQvWkAEa7kJ.jpg

Dr Katerina Strani at the second workshop

The third and final workshop took place in early May and included sessions by Dr Laura Paterson on Benefits Street and poverty porn, and Nike Oruh (Profisee), artist and academic, on language and bias. Scottish writer and rapper Darren McGarvey (Loki) was also scheduled to participate but could not make it in the end, so he sent signed copies of his new book, which were given to participants. The session finished with a panel discussion.

There were about 40 participants who took part in all three workshops. Discussions were lively and stimulating. Here’s some of the participants’ feedback:

“The presenters did a fantastic job of explaining and communicating clearly some very complex CDA methods and analytical tools. I also enjoyed the exercises and World Cafe style discussions in the second workshop which I found very useful and edifying. I also liked the emphasis given to the practical application of CDA to real cases, e.g. by using relevant discourse analysis tools for identifying structural inequalities (as they are discursively manifested, constructed and reproduced) and for challenging them by providing/producing alternative, critical discourses.”

“The mixture of audiences for the workshops. More events should be organised where academia, grassroots initiatives, activists, etc, interact and exchange ideas.”

“I enjoyed learning a new approach to CDA from Katerina but also discover the great work some of the participant community groups are doing.”

“I was very intrigued by the direct and practical use and application of CDA in current community projects and activist campaigns. This was something that I had never encountered before. I would thus be very interested in participating in relevant activities and projects whereby the full transformative potential of CDA methods can be fully exploited, so as to challenge social injustice and inequality while concomitantly inspiring change.”

“I have to say, I have found this whole experience quite novel and almost life-changing. Talking to people who are not linguists but who need to understand language and challenge impositions on them in everyday situations, in contexts of homelessness and crisis, has shown me how useful and impactful this approach is.”

Dr Laura Paterson at the third workshop

Nike Oruh (Profisee) at the third workshop

Nike Oruh (Profisee) wrote a blog post after the third workshop, which can be found here: https://medium.com/@profisee/how-language-reproduces-inequality-and-how-it-is-used-to-challenge-it-165f88188431

Joan Cutting, John Player, Katerina Strani and Petra Reid

We hope to receive some more funding and continue delivering these workshops!

Special thanks to Hannah Bradley, Gillian Lawrence, Jen Ross and Margaret Petrie.

 For more photos from the workshops, please click here 

Moving Languages English Application now live and available!

 

 

The Moving Languages English Application launch took place on Friday 8th June at the George Davies Lecture Theatre, Esmée Fairbairn building, Heriot-Watt University.

The Moving Languages application is the result of an EU-funded project led by Finnish organisation Learnmera Oy, with LINCS at Heriot-Watt as one of the partners. The app is 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.

Our mission is to help combat linguistic and cultural isolation, which is proven to be one of the key barriers to the successful integration and inclusion of migrants. There are plenty of generic language-learning apps on the market that are not designed for the needs of refugees or newly-arrived migrants. While the Moving Languages app is not designed specifically for these groups, it also caters to them, with features such as:

  • Targeted support languages
  • Culture tab
  • Administration and Immigration tabs
  • Dialogues with Audio

This free application 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, Ukrainian, 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.

The UK project coordinator, Dr Katerina Strani, presented the background, the project outputs and the research that led to the development of the app, before hooking up her phone to the projector and presenting the app in real time.

 

Some feedback from participants in the launch event who tested the app:

“The App is easy to use, you learn a new language and culture in a funny way

Well done.

It’s very self- explanatory, especially the fact that you don’t have to press a continue button after a correct answer makes it very user-friendly.

Easy to use.

It’s very snappy, clear and easy/fluid to navigate.

I think that this application is easy to use and it’s a good way to learn the basic expressions of a foreign language.

Outstanding.

It looks great, well done!

Useful and Innovative: the culture part offers practical information that other language learning apps don’t offer (HS – related info, for example).

This is a very good app. It addresses key issues around language learning and the social inclusion of immigrants.”

You can download the 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

We would love your comments as we continue to update the app and fix bugs until the end of the project in November 2018. Please give us your feedback here:  https://goo.gl/forms/eJwXXtep1BTDz76B2

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

 

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission under Project No. 2016-1-FI01-KA204-022678

Moving Languages – English application launch !

erasmus-logo Moving Languages_Logo_white backgr

Moving Languages – English application launch

Friday 8th June 2018,   18:00 – 20:00

Esmée Fairbairn building Lecture theatre – EF26

Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton Campus

Edinburgh

The Moving Languages application constitutes an EU-funded project designed to help new migrants learn the host language(s) and familiarise themselves with culture-specific vocabulary. A user-friendly, versatile and comprehensive app, it also aims to encourage people to learn other languages and promote understanding between cultures. Our mission is to help combat linguistic and cultural isolation, which is proven to be one of the key barriers to the successful integration of migrants. The project is led by Finnish organisation Learnmera Oy.

 This free application provides a gamified language and culture-learning solution. It contains 4000+ illustrated vocabulary items for easy concept recognition. It will be available for download from all major app stores from June 2018. 

Users can learn English, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Finnish (main languages) from 20 support languages, widely spoken by refugees/migrants in the partner countries: Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Estonian, French, Hungarian, Kurdish (Sorani), Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Tigrinya, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu.

Are you a user of any of the main or support languages? Do you work in the languages or intercultural communication industry? Then join us at the launch of the English version of the Moving Languages application!

The event will be followed by a feedback session and a drinks reception for an opportunity to find out more about the project.

The event is free but spaces are limited, so please register here:

https://goo.gl/forms/v0jgBXbcT0TgZKso1

Details on how to get to the venue will be emailed to registered participants.

For more information, please contact the UK coordinator, Dr Katerina Strani: A.Strani@hw.ac.uk

Project flyer in English: Moving Languages Flyer ENGLISH

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

 

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission under Project No. 2016-1-FI01-KA204-022678

DESIGNS project update – December 2017

 

Picture1

By Audrey Cameron & Jemina Napier

 

In this blogpost, Audrey Cameron and Jemina Napier explain what has been happening so far on the DESIGNS project (promoting access in employment for deaf people), since the last update in November 2017.

Audrey has just finished interviewing nearly 40 deaf sign language users on their experiences of employment and Jemina is interviewing sign language interpreters on their experiences of working with deaf people in their workplace.  We will start analysing the data in the new year.

We will also be looking into interviewing employers in early 2018 for their perspective on deaf people in employment.  We are delighted to be working with a new project partner – Vercida.  The company was previously known as ‘Diversity Jobs’ and they have a good network of contacts with numerous companies and employers across the UK.  Vercida is keen to work with us to recruit employers for the DESIGNS project.

vercida

The next DESIGNS community event will be in Bruges, Belgium, in January 2018 and hosted by one of our project partners the European Union of the Deaf, where we will introduce the project to the local deaf community and local sign language interpreters.

We would like to thank all the deaf sign language users and sign language interpreters for participating in the project so far and sharing their employment experiences.

Here is the transcript of the BSL video:

 

Audrey: Hello!

 

Jemina: Hello!

 

Audrey: We’re here to talk to you about the latest on the Designs Project.

 

Jemina: I thought it would be nice to provide you with an update so you know what we’ve been up to. So, Audrey what have you been doing since you started working on the project in October, in the last two, almost three, months?

 

Audrey: Has it been two months? The time has gone really quickly. I’ve been interviewing deaf people who we’ve put in different groups according to their employment status, i.e. those already in employment, those who are looking for work and aren’t currently in employment, and people who are self-employed and/or run their own businesses. So it’s going really well; numbers wise, in total I have met with almost 40 people, which is good.

 

Jemina: Yes, that’s a lot…

 

Audrey: What about you, Jemina?

 

Jemina: For my part, I have been focusing on interpreters, obviously I’m an interpreter so I have been interviewing interpreters about their experiences working with deaf people in employment settings. This could interpreting at job interviews or actually in the workplace; I’m looking at any barriers they may have come across; how things have gone – both good and bad experiences. Audrey and I have been talking about this and it’ll be really interesting, as we will work through the data, to see the differences and similarities from two different perspectives – how interpreters perceive things and, in your case, Audrey, deaf people’s views. It’s going to be really fascinating to see how they compare.

 

Audrey: Yes, it’ll be interesting. The next step will be to approach employers – we’ll be asking them what it is like for them working with deaf people, or if they don’t have any deaf employees, what they think about having deaf people working for them; we’re looking to start doing that in the new year.

 

Jemina: Yes. We’re also fortunate enough to have a new project partner, a company called ‘Vercida’. Vercida were previously known as ‘Diversity Jobs’; they’ve built up a really good network of contacts with numerous companies and employers across the UK. Vercida advises employers on how best to go about recruiting people with a range of disabilities and not just disability, also people who are gay or lesbian, so their focus is diversity in general in the workplace. They’re really keen to work with us on the Designs project and to look at ways to encourage employers to think about how they can recruit deaf people. So next year we’re going to be working closely with Vercida and they’ll be helping us make contact with employers, we’ll also maybe interview them and arranging visits to meet with employers. That will mean we’ll be able to explore things from three different perspectives – employers, deaf people and interpreters. We’re really pleased to have Vercida work with us and I know they’re really keen to partner with us – so that’s all very exciting and positive.

 

Audrey: I think we had thought it might be difficult for us to approach and find employers willing to participate in the project, but having Vercida helping us with that will make the process easier and we really are grateful for their support.

 

Jemina: Absolutely.

 

Audrey: Next year there will be more community events like the two events we had here this year; the first one was in Dublin, Ireland – that’s right Jemina, isn’t it?

 

Jemina: Yes, in Dublin at the start of 2017, then in Edinburgh in the summer…

 

Audrey: … and it’ll be in Bruges in Belgium in January 2018. Looking forward to going to meet people from both the local deaf community and locally based interpreters in Belgium.

 

Jemina: Anyway, we’ll let you know when we have anything new to share with you, probably sometime in the new year when we’ll be due a 6 months update on the project, so that’s us….

 

Audrey: We do both want to thank you for participating in the Designs Project and for sharing your stories – your involvement is hugely appreciated

 

Jemina: Yes, a big thank you all the deaf people and interpreters who have participated!

***

Bridging the Gap 5: Academics and community engagement

by Annelies Kusters, Jordan Fenlon and Jemina Napier

 

In the weekend of 25-26 November 2017, the fifth Bridging the Gap (BtG) conference was hosted at Heriot-Watt University. The aim of this conference series is to work towards bridging two gaps: first, the gap between academics (involved in Deaf Studies and sign language research) and deaf community members; and second, the gap between deaf and hearing academics within these fields. While the second gap triggered the organisation of the first BtG conference in 2014, the fifth iteration of the conference mostly focused on the gap between community members and academics. It was the first time that BtG lasted two days rather than one, and it attracted 120 participants: community members and academics hailing from all over the UK, the largest audience so far. The conference was heavily discussed on social media, particularly on Twitter (see #BTG5). The core organising committee consisted of Jemina Napier, Jordan Fenlon and Annelies Kusters, and others who have worked with us to plan the conference included Steve Emery, Dai O’Brien, Heather Mole and Emmy Kauling, and a number of student volunteers.

0

Annelies, Jemina and Jordan.

2a

The conference started off with an introduction by Nicola Nunn, who organised the first BtG conference in Preston. She introduced the BtG series, emphasising that she was very happy to see that the conference was not an one-off and is now an established one in the British deaf conference landscape.

2b

After Nicola, Jemina Napier took the stage to give the audience an impression of the kind of research and community work we are doing here at Heriot-Watt, where the BSL section has recently exponentially grown.

1

2c

After opening the conference in this way, Hillary Third (Equality Unit, Scottish Government) and Frankie McLean (Deaf Action) gave a keynote presentation focusing on the implementation of the BSL (Scotland) Act. Hillary and Frankie explained that the aim of the Act is to make “Scotland the best place in the world for BSL users to live, work and visit”. The BSL National Plan for 2017-2023 contains 10 long-term goals and 70 actions in the next 3 years (covering early years and education training and work; health; culture and the arts; transport; justice and democracy) and a further set of actions will be published in 2020.

3 4

The Plan was constituted after extensive consultation: the National Advisory Group (NAG) has been successful in engaging large numbers of Scottish deaf people in the BSL Act. Not only was the NAG a great input for the Scottish Government, it also served as an instrument of empowerment. Several feeder NAGs such as a parent and youth NAG had input into the general NAG. An inspiring video was shown of 2 deaf teenagers who were involved in the youth NAG, talking about the valuable experience of being involved, since they “are the future”. The Act is a great example of working with and for a deaf community in order to create better life conditions for deaf people. This opening session was livestreamed (https://www.facebook.com/HWUBSL/).

When we were planning BtG5, we already knew during our first meeting that we didn’t want to organise a “typical” conference consisting of presentations to disseminate research findings. Indeed we thought that if we really wanted to work towards bridging a gap, we would need an interactive format, designed in order for people to be able to express a range of thoughts on the “gap” under discussion. So the three sessions that followed the keynote presentation were interactive.

The first interactive session was based on the TV programme Dragon’s Den, where entrepreneurs could pitch an idea for a panel of venture capitalists who would decide if they would fund the particular project or not. Jordan Fenlon facilitated this session at BTG5, asking: “what would you do if you had £2 million for a research project?”

5

The aim of this panel was for academics to learn about what kind of research deaf people find important and for the audience to get insight in the kind of thinking that’s involved in crafting a research proposal. Panelists for example pointed out the need to use buzzwords such as Thomas Lichy’s use of the word “hate crime”. They also pointed out that sometimes similar or related research has already happened (the dementia proposal); or that an idea (the deprivation project) had been previously pitched but not in a successful way. They said that a project such as the BSL corpus project would preserve old signs and regional variations, but a funder would require it to contribute to new academic theory, which is often a big challenge in applied projects. The idea that won the audience vote was Audrey Cameron’s: she suggested to work with Science Centres to give science teaching tessions to deaf children in BSL, and study how we think about science in sign language: a wonderful combination of doing exciting research in combination with direct benefits for deaf children.

A few academics and community activists/representatives came forward to pitch an idea that they had prepared in advance – the range of ideas covered:

BSL deprivation of deaf children (Tom Lichy)

6

A Scottish BSL corpus project (Gary Quinn)

The Deaflympics 55 dB cut-off (Philip Gerrard)

8

Sign language use in deaf people with dementia (Avril Hepner)

Mouthing in BSL (Adam Schembri)

The impact of isolation on mental health (Herbert Klein)

And science learning in BSL (Audrey Cameron)

10

The panel consisted of academics and community representatives: Bencie Woll, Terry Riley, Graham Turner, Gordon Hay and Emma Ferguson-Coleman.

The second interactive session was called “Heriot Watt goes to Hollywood”, facilitated by Annelies Kusters and Gary Quinn, in which 6 short films were showed that were created by Heriot-Watt BSL section staff, PhD students, postdocs, BSL students and community members. The issues included: deaf people not learning about research findings after a project is concluded; having to sign epic consent forms in English; working with interpreters during research projects; the fact that participants often don’t want to admit when they need more clarificaton from academics; deaf people not knowing about Deaf Studies concepts but hearing interpreter students do, which can intimidate deaf people; deaf academics “leaving the community behind” to give presentations at international conferences and publish books. With the films, we tried to tackle issues in a humorous albeit serious way.

11

The Hollywood session led to lively discussions, and during the next session on the next day, a manifesto workshop was facilitated by Dai O’Brien, Jordan Fenlon and Annelies Kusters, in order to address the same issues with the aim of taking action in the shape of a manifesto. Everyone got involved, the discussions were recorded, and Dai, Jordan and Annelies will take this forward. They will summarise the videos and use the summary to create a first rough draft of the manifesto which will then be presented and further discussed during the next BtG conference.

12 13

Some issues that were discussed during the Hollywood and manifesto sessions included: how are research findings made accessible and attractive for community members? In the case of participants who directly contributed to a research project, it is important to ask how they want access to the findings, eg. some might want a summary in BSL and others might want the full article in English. In case of the broader community there are a number of options. Who wants to watch a two hour signed report on academic topics? Other options include short signed summaries, documentary films, interactive websites and texts in plain English. It is important to make research meaningful and interesting, and that also often means that reports should be kept short. When giving live presentations, it’s important to consider where the event is hosted: a relaxing/safe space such as a trusted deaf club with a pint in the hand, or pizza in a chilled out place, fosters a very different kind of atmosphere than an university auditorium. An issue that surfaced multiple times during the conference is that researchers are increasingly proactive in trying to make their research accessible in BSL but members of the deaf community might not know the BSL report exists (such as the earlier mentioned dementia project). So, how can people learn what research is happening and where, and where can they find it? The clever use of hashtags and Facebook groups is one means but it was also suggested that a centralised website with a “research map” would be helpful.

It is not clear yet where the 2018 iteration of BtG will be organised. We hope that during the next BtG conference, we can discuss actual examples of “good practice” in research and community involvement and impact, and how these might inform the BtG Manifesto.

***