Saturday, 4 October 2014

Calgary News 2: In and around Calgary

As promised in the first part, I now share a couple of my impressions about Calgary. Before and after the conference, I could look around in the Downtown. On Saturday I enjoyed the company of a couple of guys from the conference so we explored some tourist attractions and bars together. On Sunday, there was a guided tour in the Banff National Park. The scenes were breathtaking and our guide, Petar was really experienced and funny.

The entrance of the campus.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Calgary News 1: The conference

From 1 to 8 September, I spent a great week in Calgary, Canada. I attended the Multidisciplinary Approaches in Language Policy and Planning conference, organized by the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. The conference was very rich in topics and it was especially nice that not only linguists but scholars from political sciences or philosophy also contributed to the discussions. The atmosphere was friendly as there were less than a hundred participants (around seventy, I guess) so it was easy to contact people. Another thing what made this visit so special is that it was my first time in the American continent so I had many new cultural experiences... In this part, I'll write about the conference, and you will soon find another post about my impressions on Calgary and the Rocky Mountains.

Calgary Downtown and Bow River: a nice walk on a cloudy afternoon

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Bright ideas from the Jyväskylä Language Campus

Working at the Centre for Applied Language Studies, I can enjoy the benefits of a unique network of linguists from different subfields. This network is called Kielikampus – Language Campus, and is described as follows on their site:
The Jyväskylä Language Campus is a forum of cooperation between four units at the University of Jyväskylä: the Language Centre, the Department of Languages, the Centre for Applied Language Studies and the Department of Teacher Education. It is an exceptional working environment both nationally and internationally as it combines research on language and language use, language teaching and training as well as language education policies.
Recently, I discovered the blog of Language Campus. The posts are mainly in Finnish so I can understand only a couple of words from them, but I also found English writings, for example by exchange students who visited schools in Jyväskylä. It is interesting to see what these future teachers with various cultural backgrounds highlighted from their experience. As I read, they got new ideas and aspects for practicing their profession.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions: training in writing applications

The European Commission, in collaboration with the Research Executive Agency, provided a web-streamed training on Tuesday 10 June 2014 from 2 to 6 p.m. (CET). With the help of this, you can learn a lot about writing your Individual Fellowship or COFUND application. The video and the slides are available from here.

The (second) Nobel Prize diploma of Marie Skłodowska-Curie from 1911 (Source: Wikimedia)

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

From the panopticon to the streets: a couple of days in Bratislava / Pozsony / Pressburg

What do the students concentrate on while sitting in the classroom? What do we really learn in the school? Experts say that in many cases, a “hidden curriculum” is more important during our school years than the facts and explanations we seem to learn… The Scollons in their book entitled Nexus Analysis: Discourse  and the emerging internet claim that the traditional classroom is like a panopticon: the students are mainly passive viewer-listeners who are not expected to share their ideas or be creative. Instead, they are expected to learn and reproduce what they have heard or read while preparing for the classes. When they “discuss”, they seem to speak about the topic of the course but many times, implicitly, the emphasis is on their personal status in the school… As the authors write about a university seminar:

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Popular linguistics online

I've been popularizing linguistics for more than three years on a Hungarian site Nyelv és Tudomány 'Language and Science'. I think this site offers ideal opportunities for discussing several language-related topics such as educational policies, minority rights, exotic cultures, games, IT gadgets, translation softwares or even methods in scientific research. Since I live in Finland, nowadays I especially like a series on Finnish popular culture: with my wife, we usually listen to the songs (for example Jukka Poika's) and learn a lot from the lyrics, its translation and the explanations provided by the authors.

Nyelv és Tudomány –

How do you feel in this room?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm really interested in linguistic landscape. I'm always curious about what symbols and texts mean in our environment, e.g. in the interior of our homes, schools, offices or on the façade of various buildings. However, not only texts and images but the arrangement of the furniture and every other property of the spatial organization can be relevant and meaningful. That's why I was very happy when I got an invitation to a seminar which targeted university students from Serbia who study mathematics and physics. This seminar, led by Kristóf Fenyvesi, focused on the connections between visual culture, mathematics and education.

Friday, 16 May 2014

People use words they reject

Reflecting on language is part of our everyday life. It happens that you share and comment a joke because you found it very funny. Contrarily, you may want to tell a case when somebody hurt you with words. These are informal and personal cases: you meet people you regularly meet and share your life with them. However, speaking about language-related experiences also has its institutionalized forms. Teachers sometimes ask students to tell about their communication habits in order to formulate a “grammar rule”.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Words on the fence

I'm interested in the linguistic landscape of towns, schools and other institutions. Words on walls, fences, windows and other surfaces tell a lot about a community's life. What languages are used? What images, symbols are used in order to build and strengthen a group identity? The topic is quite hot in minority settings where a community often has to fight for the right of using their own language and symbols. It's not by accident that when we organized a conference on linguistic landscape at my previous workplace, the papers were mainly about the visual use of Hungarian in the neighboring countries of Hungary.

Monday, 28 April 2014

The first words

Interested in education, I study how students and teachers communicate with each other and with researchers who visit their school. I'm one of these researchers: a linguist who moved from Hungary to Finland to observe Hungarian education from another perspective.

A city of lakes: Jyväskylä

I chose the title "Finding own words" for my current research project because I want to listen to the students' and teachers' personal voices and words, and I somehow want to help them in finding their own words to express themselves. I have a couple of questions about the protagonists of school life, for example (1) how do they use language in order to find their place in the school community and activities? (2) How do they tell about their lives for others? And (3) how can research help in making education better, more democratic, involving and enjoyable?

I gather new impressions and thoughts in an inspiring environment, at the University of Jyväskylä. I've just started my two-year Marie Curie Research Fellowship at the Centre for Applied Language Studies, and I excitedly look forward the upcoming months. Please feel free to follow me to seminars, conferences around the world, to read and watch the most interesting papers and videos I found, and to share your experience and thoughts with me!

If you're interested in my publications and other details of my work, please visit my site.

Tamás Péter Szabó