Center for the Study of Language and Society (CSLS)

Center for the Study of Language and Society

Combining research and teaching as Exploratory Practice: language regard in reflective processes of multidisciplinary teams

Dienstag, 30.04.2019, 16:15 Uhr

Das Forum Language and Society ist eine Reihe von Gastvorträgen zu Themen der Soziolinguistik. Doktorierende der GSH können sich die Teilnahme als Zuhörende mit 0,25 ECTS pro Vortrag anrechnen lassen. MA Studierende der Soziolinguistik können sich nach Teilnahme an 6 Vorträgen 1 ECTS anrechnen lassen.

Veranstaltende: Forum Language and Society
Redner, Rednerin: Johanna Vaattovaara (Tampere University)
Datum: 30.04.2019
Uhrzeit: 16:15 - 17:45 Uhr
Ort: 105
Hochschulstrasse 4
3012 Bern
Merkmale: Öffentlich

Beliefs about and attitudes towards language (or ‘language regard’, see Preston 2011) as an object of research has mainly concentrated on non-linguists’ views (e.g. Niedzielski & Preston 2003; Garrett 2010), unless research has been specifically carried out among language professionals (e.g. Kalaja et al. 2016; Vaattovaara 2016). Typically, language professionals have been avoided or their contribution has been extracted out from research settings and data inspecting language users’ ideas about language.  

This talk is based on the ongoing research project Dynamics of language awareness and ideologies in reflective processes (DARE). I will particularly deal with the project kick-off sub project that was carried out recently in a University learning environment inviting both language professionals-to-be (MA students of Finnish) to work together with non-linguists, a group of students of Theatre Arts.  The intensive course Suomet vieraina suussa (Tasting the forms of Finnish) was designed based on principles of Exploratory Practice (EP; Allwright & Hanks 2009; Hanks 2017). EP is a form of fully inclusive practitioner research (ie. research incorporated into teaching, or vice versa), originally designed for language learning environments. This project does not concentrate on learning, but it explores the potential of learning environments in their function as participant-motivated contexts in which language awareness, attitudes and ideologies could be accessible through reflective practices. One of the central starting points for the DARE project is the well-known fact that linguistic forms, their social use and human reflections of the forms in use, all mutually shape and inform each other (Woolard 2008).  In the current project, learning environments are used as a means for exploring bottom-up sociolinguistic norms and sense-making as emerging and relevant in each context in a meaningful way for the participants. 

The core idea is of the Exploratory Practice is to involve all participants (instructors and the students) as co-researchers and developers of the learning environment, in this case in order to investigate aspects and details of language regard. One of the aims in this course was to deal with growths of professional identities, and among my own priorities was to focus on exploring and challenging the language professional/layperson dichotomy. 

The research data gathered in the course Suomet vieraina suussa (Tasting the forms of Finnish) consists of the Mental mapping task material (traditional method used in Perceptual Dialectology), observation data from the course workshops (fieldnotes of the instructors: myself and the senior lecturer in arts performance), and autoethnographic diaries of all participants (see Ellis & Bochner 2000 for the method), as well as recorded video material of the stage performances and reflective discussions after each of them. 

In my talk, I will supply an overview of the ethnographic methods used here, and reflect on both challenges and potentials of Exploratory Practice in investigating language regard. I will also address the language professional/layperson dichotomy, based on the autoethnographic diaries of the participants and observation data from reflective discussions on the Mental mapping task (both currently under analysis).


Allwright, D. & J. Hanks 2009. The developing language learner. An introduction to Exploratory Practice. Palgrave Macmillan.

Ellis, C. & Bochner, A. 2000. Autoethnography, personal narrative, reflexivity: researcher as a subject. -Denzin & Lincoln (eds.), Handbook of Qualitative researchs.733–768. 2nd edition. Sage Publications.

Hanks, J. 2017. Exploratory Practice in Language Teaching. Puzzling about pronciples and practices. Palgrave Macmillan.

Kalaja, P., Barcelos, A. M. F., Aro, M., & Ruohotie-Lyhty, M. (2016). Beliefs, Agency and Identity in Foreign Language Learning and Teaching. Palgrave Macmillan.

Preston, D.R. 2011: The power of language regard: Discrimination, classification, comprehension, and production.  Dialectologia, Special issue II(2011), 9-33.

Vaattovaara, J. 2016. Kieltenopettajien opetukselliset lähestymistavat ja kielinäkemykset kansainvälistymishaasteiden edessä. [Language teachers’ views of language and their approaches to language teaching challenged by internationalization] -Yliopistopedagogiikka 23 (1), 3-13.