Just apply language? Notes from the nexus of research, teaching and engagement

Robert LawsonMMUa

In recent years, questions have been raised about the relevance of arts and humanities research in a society preoccupied with more explicitly ‘applied’ subjects. In turn, arts and humanities scholars have critically reflected on the ways in which their research is positioned and how it speaks to broader social concerns, an endeavour which has intensified amidst the growing centrality of ‘impact’ as a measure of research efficacy. This raises considerations around how impact is theorised, who has a remit to ‘do impact’, and how collaborative knowledge is leveraged to improve human well-being. It also relates to inter-/ trans-disciplinarity and the extension of traditionally defined and bounded disciplines towards innovative methodological approaches to knowledge creation.

This panel brings together presenters from all career stages to consider ‘applied’ language/linguistics and diverse approaches to teaching, research and engagement operating at the nexus of these three activities. While research-led teaching is widely understood to underpin quality student education, we suggest that there is space for work which operates across institutionally imposed boundaries. We showcase projects which demonstrate how academics, students, universities and schools can collaboratively create shared knowledge, expanding the scope of applied language studies/applied linguistics. We plan to hold our panel and related exhibition in the Whitworth Gallery (Multilingual Streets project partner).

Moving applied linguistics out of the classroom: engaging university partners in collaborative knowledge production (Robert Lawson, Esther Asprey, Charlotte Bond, Birmingham City University)

This paper discusses the implementation of a new undergraduate module at BCU, where students work with university partners to investigate an issue related to language use. The presentation shows how students can lead on collaborative knowledge creation through partnerships with the university community and how linguistics can align to student concerns such as employability and professional development.

Children’s language: development and change as children encounter and create texts (Lucy Taylor, University of Leeds and Becky Parry, University of Sheffield)

This paper focuses on the written texts of primary school children, particularly those written without adult mediation or guidance. Examining how children use language to imagine, create and communicate, it shows that children’s authoring of texts is contextual, socially situated and informed by their affinities with favoured and familiar texts. An approach drawing on applied linguistics offers new insights into children as users of language and a broader semiotic toolkit, enabling teachers and researchers to explore new ways to respond to the texts children author.

'In their own voice?’: using arts-based research practices to represent co-produced knowledge in research (Ryan Bramley, University of Sheffield)
This paper focuses on a documentary film project using arts-based practices. It argues that such research offers the opportunity for the voices of co-producers to be more authentically represented, particularly with research participants’ use of language and dialect, an area where written transcription often falls short.

Multilingual Streets I: creative practice meets linguistic landscapes (Louise Atkinson, Jessica Bradley, University of Sheffield)
This paper considers the ‘Multilingual Streets’ project which uses linguistic landscapes-based research methodologies and arts-based practice in exploring young people’s understandings of language diversity in Manchester and Sheffield. It focuses on artistic processes in dialogue with a linguistic ethnographic approach, demonstrating how we might extend and disrupt our understandings of research and engagement.

Multilingual Streets II: a school’s perspective (Greg Morrison and pupils from Burnage Academy, Manchester)
Pupils and teachers involved in the ‘Multilingual Streets’ project offer their perspectives on their research explorations and findings. Artworks from the project will also be displayed.

Fri 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm