1 June 2017
Today, 1st June, the Linguini attended and presented a paper at the 4th International Postgraduate Conference on Modern Foreign Languages, Linguistics and Literature at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston. Thanks to Marco Condorelli and his helpful team, the event was teeming with engaging presentations from international young researchers followed by lively debates.
Areas of research spun fields from applied linguistics such as EFL teaching and assessment to pragmatics. The program was packed full with 20-minute sessions simultaneously taking place in three different lecture halls. Although the Linguini would have liked to hear them all, only a few will be reported on. One Linguini – too many interesting presentations!
The first of these was given by Angham Alrikabi, University of Salford who introduced her research titled: Argumentation in the light of the revised pragma-dialectical approach (PDA).
According to Alrikabi, argument is seen as a logical relation: two premises leading to a conclusion, where the validity of the arguments is confirmed by the truth of the first of the premises. However, following Toulmin who deals with the argument in practice, allows for more flexibility for dealing with arguments outside the logical model (which can be found most commonly in the sciences such as Maths).
Alrikabi expands on Toulmin’s notions and asks: Why do we argue? What is the purpose of argument? For Eemeren and Grootendorst (2004) the argumentation is a social activity. One of the purposes is to resolve conflicting viewpoints, and reach some agreeement. Alrikabi quesions whether all types of argumentation could be nestled under one purpose and investigates Iraqi political argumentation.
Between sessions we find a few stolen moments to get to know other presenters before we have to move on to the next one. Elena Afromeeva shared her research on strategies of persuasion and argumentation in political rhetoric – looking at inaugural speeches of USA president Trump, former US President Obama, Belorussian President Lukashenko and Russia’s president Putin. Afromeeva demonstrated that in order to sound persuasive, speakers need to manipulate personal pronouns. E.g. pronoun I in political rhetoric can be used to signal strong power stance. Additionally, in the example of president Trump inaugural speech, Afromeeva concentrated, using close micro-analysis (not building a corpus), on analysing the pronoun ‘they’ used as a contrast to ‘I’, is used to create distancing between the speaker and the Mexican people. ‘you’, connoting negatively with Mexico. This, she argued, is in contrast to Obama’s speech where the repeating pronoun our reflects an inclusive stance in which the former president associates himself with the American people. In contrast, the comparative analysis of Lukashenko and Putin suggests that the pronouns used demonstrate a strong political power discourse.
For lunch, we had the pleasure of attending Dr Oksana Afitska, a lecturer and researcher from the University of Sheffield who discussed her research in teaching and assessing multilingual learners in mainstream classrooms. Translanguaging is the dynamic process whereby “Multilingual language users mediate complex social and cognitive activities through strategic employment of multiple semiotic resources” (Garcia and Wei, 2004). Afitska urges that English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners should be allowed to use their home language to support and enhance their progressive learning of English. For students who arrive from an uninterrupted schooling in their country of origin, much of the knowledge and content exists in their home language. However, testing in the UK only values knowledge when it is represented in English, thus devaluing any topic knowledge learners may already possess decoded in their home languages. Afitska argues for flexibility and concludes with several solutions and recommendations for teachers to implement with their EAL students.
The sharing of data and findings is received by an audience eager and interested, prompting questions and further discussion that albeit it rigorous, creates a supporting atmosphere for growth and learning. Learning from others and with others.
To read about the Linguini’s presentation of The Esther Effect: Interactive Frames in the Case of Grassroots Animal Rights Activism click here. You can also watch the presentation here, or read the original paper here.