Friday, October 28, 2011

Research at Adelaide

In honour of Research Week at the University of Adelaide, I thought I would blog about the research happening in the Discipline of Linguistics. Without the strong research focus here, I would never have ended up doing a PhD or discovered how fascinating and exciting it can be, so in a way this is my tribute to those that have inspired me.

Dr Celine Chu's recent thesis is fascinating for combining multimodal analysis of children's picture books with classroom discourse analysis of an ESL classroom. She identified issues in the meanings constructed multimodally in the picture books which lead to confusion in the children's reading. She then looked at how the teacher talk scaffolds an understanding of these meanings. I really hope she gets the opportunity to introduce this information to pre-service teachers.

Dr Hiromi Teramoto examined classroom discourse in a New Arrivals Program classroom, and how the identity of a 'new arrival' is constructed.

Johanna Motteram is looking at IELTS - International English Language Testing System. Specifically she is focussing on what "appropriate tone" means in the high band descriptors for the writing task, as there doesn't seem to be any clear definition. Assessment is a very important area of research and IELTS is a very high status manifestation of this - a good score in IELTS changes lives through admission to universities as well as Australian citizenship. Identifying exactly what are the qualities of these valued texts are will help not only with helping people to pass the test and write better, but will inform how language acquisition is measured and assessed.

Dr John Walsh and Nayia Cominos are working on an ARC linkage grant sponsored project looking at the language of handover in the mental health system. Having worked in health care, and particularly having been involved in administrative tasks of creating more or less detailed handover sheets to facilitate fast but comprehensive handover between nursing staff at an aged care facility, I find this research fascinating and immensely important.

Margareta Rebelos is completing her thesis on raising her daughter bilingually in Slovak and English, continuing the proud tradition of linguists conducting research on their children.

Kateryna Katsman will be documenting Barossa German - the variety of German spoken by descendants of German settlers in the Barossa Valley in South Australia, a region well known for its wine production.

Naptsinee Vichaidit will be looking at the language spoken between Thai police officers and tourists in resort areas in Thailand.

I am less familiar with the research of Dr Rob Amery, Professor Peter Muhlhausler and Professor Gh'ilad Zuckerman who are focussed on endangered languages, language reclamation and aboriginal languages, but their work is tremendously important in preserving and restoring these languages. Prof Zuckerman can be seen here and here talking to Stephen Fry about modern Hebrew, or Israeli.

Other interesting research occurs in the Masters of Applied Linguistics coursework program. Some of my favourite topics include:
Meng Sun's work on Martian Language in China - a net-speak version of Chinese with alternative uses of characters used by youth and online communities to exclude outside understanding;
Napatsinee Vichaidit's examination of Thai subtitles of The Simpsons;
Tomoko Ikeda's explorations of the genre of ReadMes for video game mods;
Toshikazu Okawa's study of an international student learning the academic literacies associated with nursing during their studies;
Kumari Revindran's analysis of the representation of the population 'crisis' in Singapore;
Vanessa Tan's critical discourse analysis of National Day songs in Singapore.

There are far more people who have done interesting, thorough and fascinating research than I could include in a blogpost, but I wanted to mention just a few that I know about. If you would like to know more about any of these topics, let me know and I can put you in touch.

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