BAAL IC SIG 2015 (Sheffield) reflections

I co-presented a paper with Richard (aka “the boss”) at the BAAL IC SIG (British Association for Applied Linguistics: Intercultural Communication Special Interest Group) Annual Seminar which was held at the University of Sheffield from May 14th to 15th 2015. (Please see the original post and Richard’s reflection here: http://lantern.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/?p=7291).

The small and friendly seminar room

Our paper’s title was “ASEAN policy documents as an articulation of discourses of intercultural communication and English as a lingua franca”, so you can tell that it was a part of my Phd topic and was developed from what I did on my own last year (ASEAN and Thai policy documents analysis).

This whole experience, however, was new to me because it was my first co-presentation, and especially it was the first presentation I did with Richard. I might have had presented in some conferences before, but I did ‘it’ my way (Frank Sinatra), a way an ordinary PhD student or a novice researcher would do, but working with Richard, as you know him, phew………………….. He is so….. supportive as always, but as a superman, (as I usually call him), he always has a lot of energy and thoughts (nod if you agree). I have learned a great deal from working with him and think that I was pushed to think outside my comfort zone and do what I had never done in terms of analysis.

If you have read our abstract (http://lantern.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/?p=7527), we used discourse analysis to consider what the documents might mean regarding the intercultural communication and English as a lingua franca. I’ve learned from Richard that the analysis doesn’t have to be only about the coding, coding and looking for themes, but we can do it by giving our own interpretation (as informed by who we are and the relevant literature) to the texts. This is how I learned more about discourse analysis but I might be wrong.

I was also encouraged by Richard to look at things from a more political perspective. As you know me, I am kind of okay with (almost) everything. In previous papers, I would just talk about the context of my study in a descriptive way such as what is ASEAN and who they are, but this time, I was encouraged to look at its history and the characteristics of it which can be problematic or post challenges to the ASEAN integration.

Finally, I have some observations regarding giving a presentation to share with you:

1)      Academic/ expert audience seems to be interested when the givens are problematized (as I heard many ums with nods during our presentation);

2)      PhD students tend to present about their PhD main studies (e.g. the plan). As I’ve learned from Richard, we can do something else too!; and

3)      One needs to be able to answer the “So what?” question at the end of their presentation.

 **The End**

P.S: Dear Lanterners, you might want to know that our blog has been read and found useful by people from the wider community too. I met Jingya, a PhD student from Exeter at the BAAL (Hi Jingya if you’re reading this. Welcome to our community!). She told me that she has read my blog posts, she knows Richard Fay and that she learned about the BAAL conference from our blog! Keep up the good work, everyone 🙂

 

4 comments

  • Richard Fay

    Being pushed out of one’s comfort zone is bi-directional. Take the issue of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) and the discourses about it which are readily available to me, which are in my comfort zone – e.g. Andy Kirkpatrick’s thinking about a lingua franca approach to Englishes in Asia and more particularly in the ASEAN region. These discourses are reasonably well-developed, reasonably full in their articulation. They contrast therefore with the aspirational, envisioning to as yet only briefly discussed thinking about the role of English in/for the ASEAN region. It would be all too easy for me to assume that the fuller articulation of the former has immediate value for the latter as it develops and as Khwan’s research contributes to this development. But, in a spirit of appropriate methodology, of critically questionning our possible ways of thinking about ELF, in an embrace of the out-of-comfort zone, would this transfer of my familiar discourse of ELF to the specific Thai/ASEAN context have any value or validity? To be sure, to be informed by other discourses, to know about them (and what they say and how they say it), this must be a good thing. To be constrained by them? Not so much. I was pushed by this collaborative work to question my stance vis-a-vis such discourses, to challenge the way they were constraining my thinking. No clear outcome (as yet) but the experience was a good one for me 🙂 Thank you, Khwan.

  • Susan Dawson

    Great reflections, Khwan. I agree – however painful it might be at the time, being pushed out of your comfort zone is the only way that you can really take your thinking forward. That happened to me with the Roundtable on Complexity Theory and ELT. I also agree that it’s a different and very pleasant experience presenting with someone else 🙂

    • Sutraphorn Tantiniranat

      Thank you, Susan. By the way, you might want to know that our blog has been read and found useful by people from the wider community as well. I met Jingya, a PhD student from Exeter at the BAAL (Hi Jingya if you’re reading this. Welcome to our community!). She told me that she has read my blog posts, she knows Richard Fay and that she learned about the BAAL conference from our blog! Keep up the good work, everyone 🙂

      • Susan Dawson

        That’s great to know, Khwan. Perhaps I need to work out some way for those who aren’t ‘members’ to be able to comment on posts should they wish to.

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