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Monday, October 31, 2016

Visiting Scholars Presentations and Workshop: International Skype Communication and Web-Based Approaches

The University of Minnesota's Institute of Linguistics has partnered CARLA, the Language Center PACE Project and MELP to offer two short research talks and a hands-on workshop (light lunch provided) by visiting scholars Dr. Stefan Diemer and Dr. Marie-Louise Brunner from Saarland University, Saarbr├╝cken, Germany. The presenters are co-founders of Teaching Solutions Brunner & Diemer partnership corporation, consulting with companies, educators, and government institutions on intercultural and educational issues, and offering a broad range of educational opportunities focused on intercultural and multilingual teaching methods and web-based learning.

Research Talks: Intercultural Skype Communication - Two Views from the Field

Thursday, November 10, 2016
12:20-1:10 p.m.
University International Center 101

Paralanguage and Gesture in a Corpus of Skype Conversations: 
“... Okay so good luck with that ((laughing))?”

This presentation illustrates the affordances of rich data, using examples from CASE, the Corpus of Academic Spoken English (Diemer et al., forthcoming) for paralinguistic (e.g. laughter) and non-verbal discourse features (e.g. gestures) and ways in which they add important information to the meaning-making process of conversations. CASE consists of Skype conversations between speakers of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) from eight European countries and allows research on a wide range of linguistic features of informal spoken computer mediated discourse. The interaction between verbal discourse and paralinguistic/non-verbal elements in CASE allows a differentiated view that has not yet been explored in other corpora. Two case studies (on laughter and gestures) are used to illustrate the benefits of including paralinguistic and non-verbal elements in the transcription of multimodal corpora. Though largely unexplored as part of spoken corpora, these elements are often indispensable for understanding the complexities involved in the negotiation of meaning. Laughter is an essential factor in rapport management, particularly in first contact encounters between previously unacquainted people, where it serves to reframe situations as non-serious, playful, or unproblematic, putting the partners at ease with each other. Gestures and other multimodal elements in CASE are an important element of meaning construction. As Kress (2011: 46) has stated, “[m]ultimodality, first and foremost, refuses the idea of the ‘priority’ of the linguistic modes; it regards them as partial means of making meaning.” Non-verbal elements thus further enhance our understanding of meaning creation in discourse. Both paralanguage and gesture are thus an important and indeed essential element of meaning construction, further enhancing our understanding of meaning creation in discourse.

Identity Negotiation Strategies in Intercultural Skype Communication:
“You know every region has its like ... stuff you know”

The presentation analyzes how identities are negotiated in English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) communication. The study is based on CASE, the Corpus of Academic Spoken English (forthcoming), in which participants from different European countries discuss academic and cultural topics in an informal online setting via Skype. I analyze identity negotiation processes in CASE; in particular, the presentation focuses on three key strategies that participants use in their conversations. I first examine how the discussion of culturally connoted and stereotypical terms is used to negotiate identities, for example by talking about cultural traditions, such as typical food, festivities, etc. Then, language choice is analyzed as a means of identity creation (cf. Auer 2005). In the data, code-switching is used to enhance cultural connotations (cf. also Vettorel 2014), e.g. as a means of emphasizing cultural identity and group membership (cf. Ochs 1993, Auer 2005, Cogo 2009), not only as part of a regional or national community but also as multilingual speakers. Finally, the data suggests that American stereotypes and perceived characteristics function as a convenient facilitator for the negotiation and construction of common transcultural or European identities in CASE. This is in line with research stating that European identities often constitute themselves only through imagined and observed differences from ‘America’ as the ‘Other,’ rather than perceived common features (cf. Neumann 1998, Morley and Robins 2002). To sum up, the paper examines various strategies used in multi-faceted identity negotiation processes in international ELF Skype communication.

Workshop: Web-Based Approaches for the Modern Foreign Language Classroom

Friday, November 11, 2016
12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
Bruininks Hall 131B
Register Online (required)

This hands-on workshop will familiarize participants with the use of web-based resources in the language classroom, providing language teachers with extensive and applied examples they can use to prepare teaching materials, presenting ways to integrate them in their courses, and offering practical exercises on site. Participants will explore the use of Google Trends as a visualization tool for vocabulary, language variation and cultural concepts in a wide variety of languages. Marie-Louise Brunner and Stefan Diemer will present the most useful online language corpora and show applications of word nets, word clouds, and concordances in the area of grammar, lexis, dialect and register variation as tools for preparation and classroom activities.

Based on the Web as a Corpus approach (Hundt et al. 2007; Diemer 2009), Marie-Louise and Stefan will also introduce memes, blogs, and ads as teaching resources for the intercultural language classroom, with a particular focus on speaking skills and language variation (Brunner & Diemer 2014). Finally, they illustrate how, via the Awakening to Languages approach, similarities between various languages can be used to raise students’ language awareness and motivation, as well as to facilitate language learning.

Participants are highly encouraged to bring their own laptops in order to try out the tools presented.

This event is open to all languages and levels. A light lunch will be provided, so please register to ensure an accurate headcount. If you are not able to register, please email elsie@umn.edu or carri093@umn.edu to let us that you plan to attend.

This workshop is sponsored by the Institute of Linguistics. Cosponsored by the PACE Project and CARLA.

The PACE Project is funded by a grant from The Language Flagship.

Stefan Diemer is professor of international communication and digital business at Trier University of Applied Sciences and associate professor of linguistics at Saarland University, Germany. He is head of the team compiling CASE, the Corpus of Academic Spoken English, a corpus of international Skype conversations. His research interests include language and the Web, English as a Lingua Franca, and the didactics of English in an online context. His corpus work and his interest in intercultural communication and special-purpose language have also led him to focus on interdisciplinary research fields such as intercomprehension, language and identity, and food discourse.

Marie-Louise Brunner is doctoral researcher and head of the intercultural communication programme at Trier University of Applied Sciences and lecturer in the department of English linguistics at Saarland University, Germany. Her Master's degree is in English, American, and Anglophone Studies (focus: English Linguistics), with a minor in Intercultural Communication. For her PhD thesis, she investigates the negotiation of intercultural communication, specifically discourse strategies in English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) Skype conversations. Her research interests are in the areas of discourse analysis, pragmatics, corpus linguistics, and intercomprehension. She is also interested in the use of online media and corpora, as well as intercultural and multilingual approaches in the foreign language classroom.

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