Conferencing, PhDing, Translanguaging

Ooh, exciting times last week. I mean, it’s relative, but my Spring is usually spent catching up on research stuff, thinking about new teaching materials as new ways to generate extra workload for myself. This year, I went to Germany. It was my first time to leave Japan since I went on holiday to Thailand in 2010.

Coincidences being what they are, my trip managed to fall exactly on a German transport workers’ strike. I had my connecting flight from Paris to Düsseldorf cancelled, so Air France put me up in a hotel for the night. I then travelled on to Dortmund, because it was cheaper to stay there and I was going to go to TU Dortmund later in the week to meet my PhD supervisor.

Dortmund reminds me very much of Sunderland in that it is a very industrial town and obsessed with football. I ate a lot of bread and a modicum of cake. I have loved German bread since German class in comprehensive school.

The next day I travelled to Münster for the Foreign Language Listening Comprehension (LiCo) conference. I presented some of my PhD research (and I will share the slides when the research gets published or accepted for publication – it is basically a more finished version of this J-SLA poster presentation). I also saw some great presentations and a workshop by Jens Folkert Folkerts and Christine Goh. Everyone was lovely, but what was lovelier even than that was the cakes and sweets. Even lovelier still was I got to meet my classmates from TU Dortmund, Stewart and Sara, whom I had only met on Zoom before.

On the second day of the conference I attempted to hit up a symposium that my other classmate Raúl Garcia had set up. Unfortunately my superhuman powers of transportation got me there after it was all over. I did, however, get to meet Raúl for the first time, and meet my PhD supervisor Carolyn and also Martina Emke, for whom I had been a research participant before. We chatted about a lot of things. And then the next day I went back to the university and talked about a lot of things, but focused much more on my PhD.

As for the PhD, my publishing schedule (and prerequisite writing schedule) got discussed, as well as how to set up my capstone thesis. I am currently aiming for an August submission, which is considerably less tight than my previous self-imposed deadline of mid-April.

I then went to lunch with Martina and Carolyn, Joanna, a visiting researcher advising Raúl on his project, and most of my classmates, including also Christina, the post-doc in the department. It was lovely and I talked too much so it took me ages to finish my meal (exactly the thing I tell my son not to do)!

So, lots done, and I got to use my German half remembered from GCSE, refreshed by Duolingo and the Goethe Institut and not massively come off like a total idiot – or at least, if I did it probably wasn’t to do with my grasp of the language. There’s an awful lot of English that has crept into most world languages, and German is no exception, and also most Germans speak English in an easy to understand way, so it was a nice experience to believe I had become communicative in a language to meet immediate needs. However, whenever someone answered me at whipcrack speed, I could also roll out old faithful: Tut mir leid. Bitte noch einmal, mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut.

On the way back, my connection from Paris to Tokyo got cancelled, so by the end, I felt like Homer (the Greek one, not the American one). But yes, fruitful trip, and an enjoyable trip once I got over the jet lag.