On 4th and 5th April 2019, we will be hosting the conference “Standards, Margins, New Horizons: Teaching Language and Literature in the 21st Century” at Bielefeld University. The conference goes back to a rather vague idea of mine that I had 2 years ago: My mind wished for a conference tackling both great challenges to teaching language(s) and literature(s) that arise in our time:
- Our linguistic and cultural landscapes become ever more complex. Teachers are challenged to prepare their students for immensely complex and diverse communication processes. The New London Group (1996) already sketched these developments, but the challenges are now more pressing than ever.
- At the same time, we are confronted with a growing awareness of the diversity of learner groups. Most likely, learner groups ARE becoming more and more diverse, and the needs of diverse learners need to be met in current and future classrooms.
If we take both challenges together, then teachers today are asked to prepare increasingly diverse learner groups for increasingly complex and diverse communicative landscapes in their future lives. If this doesn’t call for a conference dealing with questions entailed by this!
The “New Horizons” conference brings together scholars from most languages taught at German schools. It has a focus on the old (Latin) and new (English) linguae francae, but also hosts scholars from German and Romance Studies, and even from Music!
In April 2017, I challenged myself “officially” to a new long-term research project. In this project, I investigate linguistic action patterns that arise in the context of cooperative learning in English language classrooms. I have been intruiged by the question of how teachers manage these highly emergent, hard-to-plan cooperative learning phases, i.e. introduce the complex tasks and, most importantly, provide help and motivation along the way.
My article “Brain book buddy boss” published here is the first publication from that project, sketching out some of the basic ideas. Another article is on its way 🙂 Still, I am currently in the challenging phase of collecting classroom data. So far, 15 lessons have been video- and audiotaped (and transcribed), but some more are still yet to come…
A more detailed description of the project can be found here (never mind the acronym, I’m still looking for a nice one!).
After finishing the volume “Communication Forms and Communicative Practices” (I’ll post about this once it has been officially published, currently we’re still waiting for the Library of Congree ID) with Peter Lang Verlag, my colleagues Alexander Brock (Halle), Jana Pflaeging (Bremen / Salzburg) and I have set out on another project: a collected volume on “Genre Emergence”. You can find the Call for Book Chapters here 🙂
Next week, I’ going to teach a seminar on English on the web at Potsdam University. I was invited by Prof. Dr. Barth-Weingarten because I had taught a seminar on “English in the New Media” there in 2014. The current seminar’s title is “English@Work” and it focusses on the use of English in professional settings. So, even though I’ve worked on web-based English a bit already, this seminar session will be quite a challenge – it’s “undiscover’d country” for me.
I’ve been working hard the last weeks to get ideas and a feasable plan for the seminar. Luckily enough, Jana Pflaeging allowed me to pick up on the structure we used for our seminar at Zagreb University, where we compared the two genres “ListSite” and “Personal Weblog” in group work. My idea for Potsdam now is to do the same with corporate websites and corporate blogs (mainly drawing on Poppi 2012 for the former and Puschmann 2010 for the latter).
I think I’ll pursue the question of how the challenge of creating a favourable corporate image for so many different recipients on the web is tackled on corporate websites and corporate blogs. I’ll show that corporate blogs address the need of companies to present themselves as interactive and accessible and, thanks to Puschmann’s previous work, we can also deal with a blog that only at a second glance turns out to be a corporate one (i.e. pretends to be something else) – whioch will be highly interesting 🙂 We will, therefore, compare some language features, participation frameworks, topics and functions – each aspect to be worked on by one group of students. Still, I am very excited and hope that the session turns out to be a good one…
In two weeks time, I’ll use the food for thought of this seminar session in a talk on corporate genres at Halle University – so I’m really looking forward to the new input I’ll get from the Potsdam students! 🙂
Last week, I received a parcel by the Peter Lang Verlag. Unfortunately, I was too excited to actually create an “unboxing video” (as described by Klaus Kerschensteiner in the first issue of 10plus1: Living Linguistics)… It contained the monograph The Personal Weblog: A Linguistic History that I had worked on whenever I had time in 2015.
It grew into more than a mere translation of my PhD-thesis – effectively, I wrote the book anew. And enjoyed it, as I had the feeling that I could write more freely after the content and the ideas had had some time to settle. The result is, at least I hope so, a readable monograph that is much shorter than my PhD thesis and that contains also a number of new ideas that hadn’t been developed at the time I wrote the PhD yet (e.g. actually mapping the prototypical distribution of features in diagrams that are based on statistics and, in fact, very much resemble Lemke’s (1999) theoretical sketches).
The book is now out for criticism and discussion – and I’m looking forward to both 🙂
EDIT: The book has been reviewed here 🙂
I am very thankful to so many people who have accompanied me on the way to this book. Therefore, I’d like to reproduce the acknowledgements here:
During summer term 2016, I am teaching a course called “Digitale Medien im Sprachunterricht”, which is designed for prospective teachers of German at German secondary schools. As teachers and teachers-to-be often remark that they feel unprepared for their students in terms of their own media skills, this seminar will be accompanied by blogs that the students keep – following precise tasks from week to week. To provide a central node in that seminar’s blogosphere, I’ve also launched a blog. On that site I reflect continuously on the seminar – and on the endeavour of blogging in the seminar. The journey has (once more) begun… 🙂