De Perdidos, Al Río

by Calum O’Donnell, 4th year student in LINCS

Going to Heriot-Watt University was one of the better decisions I’ve made with regards to my academic career. Perhaps the best decision, however, was choosing Interpretation and Translation, a subject that presented the opportunity to experience life abroad.

In August 2013 I embarked on a journey that would take me to the Spanish capital city of Madrid. I was to spend five months there as an undergraduate exchange student on the Erasmus programme, and it would end up being some of the greatest months of my life. Be it cheering on Cristiano Ronaldo in the world famous Santiago Bernabéu, bustling my way down the Gran Via or the rumbling chaos of the metro system, Madrid was a vibrant city that you can’t help but love. Not to mention, the city of Madrid was so excited about my arrival, they preemptively called a Metro station after me in my honour, ‘Metro O’Donnell’.

My first impressions were the same as every young, naïve student on their year abroad. Excited to be there, but intimidated by the prospect that I had to do everything myself. I’d scoured the internet for weeks before my departure, looking up tips, hints and must-do’s for when I arrived, but nothing can prepare you for stepping off the plane and realising that you’re quite literally thousands of miles outside your comfort zone. ­

I remember my first few days in the city; hurtling by in a blur of broken, nervously spoken Spanish, an astounding ability to seemingly spend money as if it was going out of fashion and an even better ability to find myself lost and sweaty in amongst the locals, even though whatever map I was reading was telling me, quite clearly, that I was in the right place.

Some of the biggest learning curves happened for me during my first month of living abroad. Things that seemed so difficult at the time such as; getting myself a sim card, viewing flats, organising my University enrolment or even ordering at restaurants and shops, are now things that happen naturally when I’m in Spain. I remember vividly stumbling through my personal details and my need for a sim card at the Orange phone shop during one of my first weeks in the country. The rookie mistake of rehearsing conversations in my head before they happened hindered me at the start of my trip, it was difficult for me to just let go and trust my ability to listen and understand in Spanish, even if during the first weeks I had no idea what was being said to me.

Organising myself and being sensible about getting the most out of my year abroad experience was pretty important to me, and this meant meeting as many people as I could and trying to have as much fun with learning the Spanish language and culture as I could.

So before leaving for Spain I’d made a short list of things to do, detailing my need to:

  1. Find a flat.
  2. Enrol in University.
  3. Improve my Spanish.

The first item ticked off of this list, rather unsurprisingly, was Find a flat. I’d met up for some viewings with an older gentleman by the name of Arturo, who said he had a perfect flat for what I was looking for. Situated in the infamous Arguelles, near the heart of the city, with two English boys and a Venezuelan lad who could speak less English than I could Spanish. The flat was on Calle Andres Mellado, and it was as good as home. Later in my stay, the flat would affectionately be referred to as ‘El Palacio’, which, rather obviously, translates as the Palace, but it never seemed to catch on with the locals or my friends… Funny that.

Getting a well-situated flat with three good guys was the best thing I could have done for myself. It meant that missing a metro or coming home when the sun was rising presented little problem. We were a 15-minute walk from the Gran Via (which made life very easy), a 54-second walk to the door of the Metro station (yes, I counted it) and a 10-minute walk from our local gym (which we never used), the Palace was the perfect place for me. Life was good. I’d managed to cross off the first item on my list and I’d barely been there a week. I was good at this Year Abroad stuff.

Enrolling at my chosen Spanish institution however, the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, was something that had to be seen to be believed. A myriad of emails and notices (all in Spanish…of course) were sent to my student account about enrolling on a Tuesday at an obscure building on the University’s campus at Cantoblanco, about 30-minutes north of Madrid. I headed up and tried my best to navigate my way through the sea of bodies chittering Spanish slang and the confusing signage that seemed to dominate the campus, but failed to find the room. I’d asked for directions several times, but the flurry of Spanish that was aimed my way was unintelligible to me at the time. I was slowly discovering that ‘pánico ciego’ was an adequate way to describe my mental state and perhaps my facial expression when attempting to understand the rapid fire of words that the Spaniards said to me, ‘pánico ciego’ in English, by the way, means blind panic.

However, once enrolled (tick no.2 off of that list!) and attending classes, life became considerably easier. The lecturers in each of my classes spoke clearly, concisely and I found myself grinning ear to ear when I understood complex phrases or laughing along with the class. Soon, conversations with other Spaniards become natural and I even started to hum along to Spanish songs when out and about…the same ones I air-guitar’d to back at the Palace. There were several classes I looked forward to each week, ranging from Lenguas en Contextos (Languages in Context) and Literaturas Europeas (European Literature), the one that I liked the most was Traducción General (General Translation). There was a great atmosphere in the class and everyone loved the fact that there were two native English speakers to keep them all right, even if they were from Fife and Glasgow, respectively. The work ethic that I encountered in each of the classes was pretty incredible. Every class had a studious attitude and they focussed a lot on the work they did outside of class. One thing I came to hate, however, was the gentle hum of whispered conversations whenever the lecturers would speak, which appeared to be a done thing in Spain… I can only imagine the look on one of my current lecturer’s faces if I decided it acceptable to conduct a mini-conference during their class.  I’m a stalwart for manners, and this pushed me close to the edge!

Making friends as native English speakers was something that, luckily, came quite easily. People quickly realised that I wasn’t from Madrid (or Spain, for that matter), and after making several guesses at French, English or Irish, they would often remark enthusiastically on how cool it was to have a Scottish person at the University, although pronouncing ‘Callum’ proved to be quite a challenge for most. The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) organised many social outings and these really helped me to immerse myself in all aspects of Spanish culture. I feel my year wouldn’t have been quite the same without them all. I found a whole host of people who wanted to do similar things to me, be it heading out into the bright city lights during the day, or braving the crazy Spanish party lifestyle by night. The ESN society was something that I didn’t expect to be so helpful and fun, but not only were they there to help us enjoy ourselves in Madrid but they were there if we ever needed a solution a Spanish problem or a friendly face to chat to. The experience with the ESN in Spain led me to enquire more about the ESN back at Heriot Watt and will be a good break from my fourth year studies this year.

All in all, it was an incredible five months for me in Madrid. I’ve been back several times since, and I’ve yet to spend a penny on accommodation. People are always so warm and welcoming when I go back, and I credit it all to my year abroad. Meeting new people and hearing their stories are one of the reasons I decided to study languages in the first place, and there is truly no better place to do this than on your year abroad. It amazes me how small the world becomes the older I get. Technology and cheap air travel make keeping in touch with friends, old and new, easier than ever. If you’re lucky enough to be sent by your university on a year abroad, make sure you challenge yourself. As they say, if you’re not living life on the edge, you’re probably taking up too much room.

Hasta luego!

17th September 2015: A momentous day for the BSL Community

by Graham Turner
On a most extraordinary afternoon last week (17th September 2015, a date to be remembered), it seemed that half of Heriot-Watt’s Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies re-located to the Scottish Parliament for a few hours. Why? It was the Stage 3 (final) reading in the chamber of the British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill.
The Bill passed with unanimous support from the assembled Members of the Scottish Parliament, and will be fully ratified following Royal Assent in 4-8 weeks’ time.
We can state it dispassionately in the clear light of a later week, but this was anything but a calm and sober occasion. For evidence, see You can watch the whole debate from about 1:03:00. But you really only need to see the audience reaction to the final vote (from about 2:35:00) to get a feel for the electrifying nature of the moment.
You could ask any one of LINCS’ eight British Sign Language (BSL) staff members, or our six research students, or indeed any of the 60-odd undergraduate students now enrolled in years 1-4 of our honours degree programme, and they would be able to tell you why this was such a momentous day for the BSL community.
You can read, or watch in BSL, a perspective about the thinking behind the Bill from Heriot-Watt’s Professor Graham Turner (published last year to encourage engagement with the first draft of the Bill) here:
There’s an excellent blog summarising what the Bill does (and doesn’t do) here: It is designed to create an ongoing framework for national planning around BSL which will lead to continuous, incremental improvement in the way BSL is protected and, crucially, promoted across Scottish public life. The community’s priorities will need to be elicited and sustainably enacted: some future scenarios are contained in evidence (  sent from Heriot-Watt  to the Parliamentary committee which reviewed the Bill.
You can see from sources like this that Heriot-Watt has championed this cause from the front since at least 2010. In fact, five years’ campaigning doesn’t even scratch the surface of the deep and painful history that underpins last week’s success. Heriot-Watt BSL staff can tell you story after story after story of friends, family and colleagues who have lived and died in pursuit of proper respect and recognition for BSL.
As Avril Hepner, the British Deaf Association’s Community Development Manager in Scotland, told Parliament in her evidence before the Bill passed, this legislation finally enables BSL users to feel that they belong in Scotland, and Scotland belongs to them along with everyone else.
Scotland therefore becomes the only part of the United Kingdom to secure legal recognition of BSL to date. Needless to say, campaigners everywhere will be encouraging Westminster to follow Scotland’s lead, and Heriot-Watt staff will be fully engaged in supporting their efforts.
So if you see a BSL user anywhere in the UK in the next wee while with a huge, undimmable grin on their face – you now know why. This is huge. Shake their hand.

WASLI 2015 Istanbul: The conference

by Jill Gallacher, Virginia Dugo-Marmalejo and Jude Caldwell

We were fortunate to receive funding from the Heriot Watt Alumni fund to attend the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters conference in Istanbul as it was seen as an opportunity that was too great to miss. As interpreting students, we were not sure what to expect, but having had theoretical training and coming out of our 3rd year language placements we were ready for the WASLI experience. And what an experience that was.

The theme of the 2015 conference was “Human Rights: Where do Interpreters fit in?”

Twenty-eight presentations and two keynote speeches took place over the two main days of the conference.

The first keynote speech was from Dr Robert Adam from the Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre at University College London (UCL) and Dr Christopher Stone from UCL. They took as their theme “Human rights, Deaf People and Interpreting – Navigating the woods”. Using the analogy of trees in the woods, they delivered a fascinating and enlightening presentation delving into the history of Human Rights and how we as interpreters “fit” into this complex branch network. This very much set the scene for the next two days

Liz Scott-Gibson, WASLI’s Honorary President and Markku Jokinen, Director of the Finnish Association of the Deaf, made the second keynote speech, introducing us to The Dragoman & the Bridge – The Way to Human Rights.  They spoke of the professionalisation of interpreters and the progress made over the years. They made reference to their idea that Interpreters and Deaf people working together is a “three-legged race” requiring total co-operation to work efficiently, and presented their ideas in an engaging relaxed, almost chatty manner.

Many of the presentations rendered material that we have been studying over the last three years into a relevant and understandable context using actual interpreter experience. An example of this was Eileen Forrestal’s The Teaming Model, which opened up discussion on “co-created dialogue” and whether a closed process (just pass on information, no discussion, no responsibility) or open process (discuss information before passing on) of interpreting is better for the Deaf client and how the open process should or could work.

Rico Peterson on “Becoming an Interpreter, a sense of place” was also particularly relevant to us and looked at a formal apprenticeship programme at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Data collected from a 2012 study of interpreter trainees was examined. This asked them how the newly qualified apprentices spent their time, and how they measured their work, and the data gathered gave a glimpse into the minds of the new interpreters as they moved from the symbolic world of the classroom into the new dynamic workplace. Of particular interest was the notion of a Deaf Mentor, who would observe the students in real time and give support and mentorship to allow self development.

Some presentations looked at the way interpreters are trained and examined the differing viewpoints from both the Deaf and the hearing worldview. Eileen Forrestal’s “Deaf Perspectives in Interpreter Education”, focused on the feeling of powerlessness felt by some in the Deaf community when access to the decision-making process surrounding there communication is denied. She explained her feeling that the inclusion of the Deaf viewpoint in interpreter education should play a critical role.

Other presentations delved into areas of new research, one of which was presented by  our own Stacey Webb, Assistant Professor in BSL, on the subject of the job demands and resources of interpreter educators. This took an existing area of research, the Job Demand-Resource Model (Demerouti et al 2001) and focused on one area of it as it pertains to teachers of interpreting.

Another area explored which was of great interest examined the ethical and moral dilemmas facing the interpreters today. McDermid presented “Human Rights for Deaf People: The Impact of Groupthink within Interpreter Cohorts” and Jefa Mweri on “The Deaf as a Vulnerable Group – When their human rights are violated are interpreters equipped to deal with it?”.

One very topical presentation looked at the impact of the “fake interpreter” at Nelson Mandela’s funeral scandal, debating whether the resultant popular awareness raising of signed language interpreting outweighed the damage done to the profession by the event.

The limitations of Deaf people’s access to justice, and the equality or lack thereof for Deaf people in legal settings was presented by the Justisigns team, which includes  LINCS professors Jemina Napier and Graham Turner.  The project’s remit is to develop training courses for sign language interpreters, legal professionals and sign language users in Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland and the UK.

Prof Jemina Napier and LINCS researcher Robert Skinner also presented an overview of the Insign project “Deaf citizens’ access to European institutions as a linguistic human right: An evaluation of the multilingual Insign project”. The research examined the views of deaf sign language users and interpreters about their experiences of VRS in general and also with the Insign project.

We learned a great deal about the cultural similarities of Deaf communities around the world and even more about the way that users of differing signed languages can utilise the iconicity of their own language to communicate far quicker than hearing people with different language are able to find common ground and communicate.

During the conference an event of great significance was the signing of the “Memorandum of Understanding” by the Federation of Interpreters and Translators (FIT). This organisation has over 100,000 members from around the world and the hope of the memorandum is that it will “unite the voice of professional associations of translators, interpreters and terminologists around the world” (FIT 2015)

WASLI 2015 finished with a boat cruise on the Bosporus in the evening of the last day of conference. This was an extremely valuable networking event as it was possible to talk to all of the presenters, volunteers, attendees both hearing and Deaf in a relaxed environment and discuss and reflect upon the areas that had interested and impacted upon us during the two days of conference. It was also great fun with a full evening of entertainment.

Apart from the invaluable information gained from the presented sessions and keynote speeches, the unquestionable gain from attendance at the WASLI conference was the networking opportunities and contacts we made. We have discussed and learned about the interpreter experience from all over the world, from countries with an established Interpreter training programme to those with a newly emerging profession and no established route to qualification.

We have discussed and debated during lunch and tea breaks various issues from the problems faced by interpreting organisations in some African countries which have a multitude of differing signed languages and their attempts to establish one as ‘official’ in order to facilitate interpreter training, to the problems faced by the interpreters and Deaf Schools in Nepal after the earthquake. We had to communicate in British Sign Language, International Sign and American Sign Language.

As a result of attending this event, we made friends from all over the world that will inform our choices and perhaps our careers for many years to come.


Jill Gallacher, Virginia Dugo-Marmalejo, Jude Caldwell are 4th Year undergraduates at our MA Honours Programme in BSL (Interpreting, Translating and Applied Language Studies)


Aahh, the holidays… (?)

"1859-Martinique.web" by Free On Line Photos. Licensed under No restrictions via Commons -

“1859-Martinique.web” by Free On Line Photos. Licensed under No restrictions via Commons –

June to September: Three long months with nothing to do, because there’s no teaching. So we lock up our offices with a “Back in September” sign and fly off to exotic places, or we stay here and catch up with our neglected hobbies of baking, knitting and gardening.


If only that were true.

Here’s what we’ve really been doing in the summer:


Conference on Corpus Analysis and on Interpreting: Claudia Angelelli presented her work on The California Hope corpus of healthcare-mediated communication in the panel entitled „The Benefits of working with corpora in community interpreting research: from qualitative analysis to quantitative verification – and back.” Meyer and Schmitt, organizers.  1st Conference on Corpus Analysis on Interpreting. Forli, Italy.

Prof. Angelelli was also invited to present two papers (Designing a valid and reliable measurement instrument for interpreting purposes and Teaching to their gift: the case of young bilinguals at high school) at the School of Interpreting, Forli, Italy.

A Study in Public Service Translation/interpreting in Cross-border Healthcare: Claudia Angelelli just returned from data collection for the EU Project: A Study in Public Service Translation/interpreting in Cross-border Healthcare, (which includes Germany, Greece, Italy Spain and United Kingdom), and a fellowship in China. During her fellowship at Sechuan University, Prof Angelelli lectured doctoral and master students on Translation and Interpreting Research Methods. She was also invited to give the following talks:

  1. Invisibility Revisited: Interpreters’ Dilemmas in Healthcare Interpreting. Paper presented at Sechuan University, Chengdu, China, May 28, 2015
  2. Bilingualism from a Different Perspective: the Case of Bilingual Youngsters Interpreting for Families and Friends. Paper presented at Leshan Normal College, Leshan, China June 5, 2015
  3. Minding the Gaps: the Value of Grounding Interpreting Teaching in Research. Paper presented at Beijing University of Foreign Languages and Cultures, Beijing, June 12, 2015.

WASLI 2015, Deaf History International Conference and 17th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf: Prof Jemina Napier, Stacey Webb and three students from the BSL department participated in this year’s World Association of Sign Language Interpreters conference in Istanbul, Turkey. Jemina also participated in the Deaf History International conference in Edinburgh and the 17th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf in Istanbul.

IATIS 2015: Dr Marion Winters participated in this year’s conference of the International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies in Belo Horizonte, 6-10 July. She presented a paper on “New computational tools in corpus-based translation studies” and co-convened the panel: Corpus-based translation studies: innovations in the new digital age. She also co-facilitated the Workshop: Presenting your research orally in English.

Ediso 2015 Symposium: Prof Bernie O’Rourke and Nicola Bermingham participated in this year’s EDiSo Symposium

Spanish in Society Conference 2015: LINCS hosted the 5th Biennial Meeting of the International Association for the Study of Spanish in Society, chaired by Prof Bernie O’Rourke

MAMO 2015: Dr Kerstin Pfeiffer attended The Middle Ages in the Modern World (MAMO 2015) conference at the University of Lincoln from 29 June to 1 July.  MAMO 2015 was an international conference with ca. 100 speakers from a range of fields and disciplines including History, Literature, Film, Video Games, Performing Arts & Drama, Languages, as well as Museum Studies. The papers at the conference explored the continued return to, and relevance of, the Middle Ages in the post-medieval world in a variety of areas, from popular culture to public history, from science to advertising, and from pedagogy to political rhetoric.

ECA 2015: Dr Katerina Strani presented a paper at the 1st European Conference on Argumentation: Argumentation and Reasoned Action on 11/06/2015 in Lisbon, Portugal. This international conference brought together philosophers, linguists, argumentation theorists and computer scientists and culminated in keynote speeches by John Searle, Norman Fairclough and Simon Parsons. Katerina’s paper, presented together with Dr Evans Fanoulis, University of Leicester, was entitled “Arguing in Virtual Spaces: The Social Construction of a Multilingual Virtual Public Sphere”. The paper argued that the importance of language, in particular of multilingualism, in political argumentation has been relatively underexplored by both normative and radical democracy theorists. Multilingualism constitutes an integral part of the contemporary understanding of the public sphere, in which political argumentation may defy linguistic barriers. Digital technologies have altered the ontology of the public sphere to such an extent that one can currently talk about the emergence of multilingual, post-national, virtual public spheres. For more information on the conference, please see here.

SIEF: From 22-25 June 2015, members of the Intercultural Research Centre (IRC) participated in the 2015 congress of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) in Zagreb. The papers they presented ranged across a broad spectrum of topics: Postgraduate members presented a semiotic analysis of clothing, heritage & identity of Russian Old Believers in Romania (Cristina Clopot), a case study of fundraising for the National Trust Scotland (Anna Koryczan), and ethnographic insights into Lithuanian migration to Scotland (Vitalija Stepušaitytė). Staff members explored how emotional scripts of medieval passion plays are re-imagined for and by contemporary audiences (Dr Kerstin Pfeiffer), whether Derry~Londonderry’s year as UK City of Culture 2013 succeeded in generating a shared story for the city (Prof Máiréad Nic Craith, written with Dr Katerina Strani and IRC associate member Dr Philip McDermott), and political dimensions of place and belonging among displaced groups (Prof. Ullrich Kockel, reporting on his SML-IRG funded research project on expellee and refugee youth after World War Two). More info here.

5th Cambridge Conference on Endangered Languages: Dr Ashvin Devasundaram and Anik Nandi presented their paper ‘Contesting the Conventionalising of Castilian: Galician New speaker Parents as Counter-Elites’ at the 5th Cambridge Conference on Endangered Languages held at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) of the University of Cambridge on 31st July.

Bridging Language Acquisition and Language Policy Symposium: Anik Nandi presented a paper on ‘Speakers as stakeholders: Role of new speaker parents in creation of bottom-up language policies in Galicia (Spain)’ at the Bridging Language Acquisition and Language Policy Symposium which took place at the Centre for Languages and Literature of Lund University, Sweden between 17th – 18th June, 2015.

Annual Phalke Memorial Lecture 2015: Dr Ashvin Devasundaram gave the SACF’s 12th Phalke Memorial Lecture entitled ‘Multiplicity in Motion: The Rise of India’s New Independent Cinema’. With multiple stories spanning the diverse demographic and geopolitical spectrum of everyday human experience, this lecture explores ‘the new Indian Indies as a glocal hybrid film form – global in aesthetic and local in content.’  Ashvin argues that the new Indies have emerged from a middle space between India’s globalising present and traditional past.  The new Indies’ paradoxical ethos is epitomised in their circumvention of Bollywood ‘song and dance’ sequences on the one hand and their incorporation of exoteric promotion and marketing strategies on the other, unlike their esoteric 1970s and 1980s Parallel art-house cinema predecessors such as Mani Kaul and Kumar Shahani.  In the absence of an autonomous Indie distribution infrastructure, new independent films often have to rely on big corporate production houses or Bollywood producers and stars to enhance their visibility and saleability.  However, the Indies share a common trait with their Parallel cinema forebears – they narrate both alternative narratives and narratives of alterity.  Films such as Peepli Live (2010), Harud (2010), I Am (2010), Fandry (2013) The Lunchbox (2013) and Ship of Theseus (2013) all espouse themes and issues that discursively engage with the contemporary ‘state of the nation’.  Some subversive Indies, such as Bengali film Gandu (2010) transgress normative notions of ‘traditional Indian values’ and hence encounter state censorship and regulation.  Drawing from in-depth interviews with directors, actors, academics and members of the Indian Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) across Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, the lecture will try to contextualise the new Indies’ emergence in a Bollywood-dominated Indian cultural milieu.

SACF’s Annual Phalke Memorial Lectures have been delivered in the recent past by well-known Indian filmmakers like Shyam Benegal and Saeed Akhtar Mirza, film archivist P.K. Nair and the documentary filmmaker Shivendra Singh Dungarpur.

ECER/WERA: Emma Guion-Akdag presented her work at the Education and Transition – Contributions from Educational Research conference in Budapest.

Somali Voices at Summer School:  Emma Hill represented LINCS at the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities’ (SGSAH) first national Summer School in Glasgow. Research was displayed by 13 doctoral or early career researchers from across Scotland. Emma’s exhibition display ‘Locating Somali Voices in Glasgow City’ showcased a collection of posters and postcards containing voices, commentary and opinions from different Somali groups in Glasgow.

GRAMNet Research Day: Eloisa Monteoliva and Emma Hill presented the EU-funded project RADAR (Regulating Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Racism) at the research open day of the Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network on the 17th of June. For more information on the GRAMNET research day, please see here.  For more information on RADAR, either visit the project website or contact the UK Coordinator, Dr Katerina Strani.

Emma Hill and Cristina Clopot also gave individual presentations on their PhD research.  Cristina’s research takes an ethnographic approach to understanding the particularities of Old Believers’ heritage and identity in the post-socialist period, whilst Emma’s is interested in the various ways in which the Somali population in Glasgow ‘have voice’.  All presentations received very positive feedback and encouragement to maintain links with the GRAMNet group. For a Storify version of the event, please click here


Applied English and Interpreting Summer School (3-21 August): Our Applied English and Interpreting course aims at strengthening linguistic skills, enhancing awareness of British culture and society, as well as practical interpreting skills. The first week of the course focused on English language & culture and the second week on practical interpreting skills. For more info and a detailed programme, click here.

Academic English Pre-sessional Programme (6-14 weeks): The English Section is particularly busy in the summer months running a Pre-sessional Programme for students with conditional offers who still have to meet their English language entry requirements for degree study. The Programme consists of three courses Project (14 weeks), Passport (10 weeks) and Portfolio (6 weeks). There were 330 students this year with the majority aiming to study in SML or MACS and smaller numbers going to EGIS and SLS. There was also a cohort aiming to study at Glasgow University. End of course exams were held as part of the resit diet this year, giving pre-sessional students an authentic experience of exam conditions prior to their degree studies. The pass rate this year was over 99% with only one student requiring to resit the assessment.

Along with the academic content there is also a vibrant Social and Cultural Programme with Topical Talks and a Carbon Café held each week at the Chaplaincy to promote engagement and discussion. Outdoor activities such as Go Ape and excursions to Loch Lomond, the Highlands and Whitelee Windfarm were amongst the most popular. The Heriot-Watt Pre-sessional programme is accredited by BALEAP, the professional body, and is one of the most highly respected in the sector. It is an excellent preparation for success in academic study with increasing numbers of Heriot-Watt students choosing to prepare in this way.

SCEN Early Language Learning University Partnership is a Scottish Government project which aims to link Scottish universities with local schools and enable Scottish primary school children to begin learning Mandarin at an early age.  Jane Bell is the contact person for the project in LINCS. 14 UG and PG Chinese students from Heriot-Watt delivered beginner Mandarin classes to children at Bonnyrigg, Burnbrae, Hawthornden, Lasswade, Loanhead, Paradykes and Rosewell primary schools. Informal feedback from primary school head teachers has been extremely positive. As a result, the student volunteers were presented with certificates at the Confucius Institute, in thanks for the time and energy they invested in this exciting new project, which they evidently enjoyed: “This is very precious experience for me.  I spend 10 weeks with these lovely children, and it helps me to improve my skill of making slides and presentation.” “Through teaching students … Mandarin, I learned how to use the resources around such as cyber resources and library resources.” “This experience helped me practice my English speaking and help me understand English culture more clearly.” “It was really enjoyable and memorable.” We plan to continue this project in 2015-2016.

Scottish Football Association referees: Dr Maggie Sargeant and Pedro Castillo ran a half-day course on public speaking and international communication to Scottish Football Association referees on Saturday 5 September.


Germans in Britain: As part of this touring exhibition created by the Migration Museum Project, Prof. Ullrich Kockel gave a public lecture on “German Roots and Routes in Contemporary Britain”. This was held at New Register House on Tuesday 21 July. The exhibition was brought to Scotland on the initiative of Heriot-Watt’s Intercultural Research Centre with the generous support of the German Consulate-General Edinburgh, the National Records of Scotland and the University of Aberdeen. More info here

Hearing Loss or Deaf Gain? Imagine we are creating an encyclopaedia for extraterrestrials. An argument breaks out over how we describe deaf people: some say hearing loss and others say it’s deaf gain. In this engaging debate, Prof Jemina Napier and Dr Noel O’Connell presented arguments from each side, drawing from research in the field of deaf studies. ‘Deaf gain is defined as a reframing of “deaf” as a form of sensory and cognitive diversity that has the potential to contribute to the greater good of humanity’ (Baumann and Murray, 2009). This thought-provoking debate was presented at the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas during this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. More info here

UN meeting: Prof Jemina Napier participated at a UN meeting in Geneva to discuss development of new International Sign interpreter accreditation system. Watch this space for updates!

BSL Bill: Prof Graham Turner’s public engagement work has continued with a lot of committee/advisory work around the BSL Bill (eg for the sector’s BSL & Linguistic Access Working Group) which reaches Stage 3 in the Chamber on Sept 17th.  Graham is also developing new online info around BSL and is preparing his work as Parliamentary Fellow at the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe). It is important to note that Graham won the Principal’s Public Engagement Prize for his pivotal role in promoting BSL as a minority language.

National BSL Plan:  Prof Graham Turner has also secured funding from the Scottish Universities Insight Institute for a 6-month project on ‘Planning for the National BSL Plan’. The project aims to design a blueprint for getting BSL taught as a modern language in schools under Scotland’s national ‘1+2 languages’ policy. Work has been ongoing through the summer to design the first of a series of consultative events, with Deaf international keynote presenters from the US and Finland, coming up in the autumn.


Philip McDermott, Máiréad Nic Craith & Katerina Strani (2015), “Public space, collective memory and intercultural dialogue in a (UK) city of culture”, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power,

Máiréad Nic Craith (2015) “‘Migrant’ Writing and the Re-Imagined Community: Discourses of Inclusion/Exclusion”, German Politics & Society, 33 (1-2), pp. 84-99 DOI:

Máiréad Nic Craith and Bernie O’Rourke (2015)  “Anthropology and Language in Europe: Setting the Context.” Anthropological Journal of European Cultures 24 (1): 1-6.

Máiréad Nic Craith and Emma Hill (2015) “ Re-locating the Ethnographic Field: From ‘Being There’ to ‘Being There’, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 24 (1): 42-62. DOI:

Jemina Napier and Lorraine Leeson (2016). Sign language in action, book submitted to Palgrave.

Special Issue (number 12) of New Voices in Translation Studies, co-edited by LINCS PhD students Lee Williamson, Marwa Shamy, Penny Karanasiou and Pedro CastilloThe issue includes a selection of the best papers submitted after IPCITI 2013, organised in Heriot-Watt, and it is the result of the long standing collaboration between IPCITI and New Voices in Translation Studies.

Claudia Angelelli:

  • (with Colina, S.,(2015): Translation and Interpreting Pedagogy. Special issue. TIS Translation and Interpreting Studies Volume 10:2.
  • Journal article:  Justice for All? Issues faced by linguistic minorities and border patrol agents during interpreted arraignment interviews. In MonTI Monografías de Traducción e Interpretación Special Issue on Legal Interpreting . Maribel del Pozo Treviño and María Jesús Blasco Mayor (Guest eds.) (pp.181-205).
  • Bilingualism and Multilingualism. In Claudia V. Angelelli and Brian J. Baer (eds.) Researching Translation and Interpreting. London/New York: Routledge. (32-42).
  • Translation and Interpreting Pedagogy. In Claudia V. Angelelli and Brian J. Baer (eds.) Researching Translation and Interpreting. London/New York: Routledge. (pp.108-117).
  • Exploring Translation and Interpreting. In Claudia V. Angelelli and Brian J. Baer (eds.) Researching Translation and Interpreting. London/New York: Routledge. (pp.5-14).
  • Bilingualism (Societal). In The Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies. Nadia Grbic and Franz Pöchhacker, eds. London/New York: Routledge.
  • Ethnographic Methods. In The Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies. Nadia Grbic and Franz Pöchhacker, eds. London/New York: Routledge.
  • In The Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies. Nadia Grbic and Franz Pöchhacker, eds. London/New York: Routledge.

Dr Ashvin Devasundaram

Dr Pedro Castillo

Dr Robyn Dean

Dr Xiao Zhao



  • Developing new research projects and applying for funding – exact figures to be announced
  • Course preparation and development
  • MSc dissertation supervision
  • Exam resits
  • Marking
  • Marking
  • Marking


Still, some of us also managed to squeeze in a holiday.

Now let the teaching begin!