Reflections on BAAL Language Learning and Teaching SIG Conference 2015 – Edinburgh

Last week, I presented at the 11th Annual Conference of the BAAL Language Learning and Teaching SIG in Edinburgh. (See abstract  here) It was my second conference presentation out of the university this year after the one in Cordoba, and coincidentally, it was also my second visit to Edinburgh. Before telling you about my presentation and the conference, I will tell you a bit about my journey there 😀

The conference started on July 2nd, at 9.15, so I decided to take the earliest train to Edinburgh (at 6) on that day which was estimated to arrive at 9.25. I would be just 20-30 minutes late to catch the first presentation. But, the train was delayed. And at 7.15 there was an announcement that the train would be ready in 80 minutes *oh no! (which I was hoping to be 18 minutes 😀 ). Therefore, we had to hop on any train going to Edinburgh direction, and we ended up on a train to Glasgow, with a transit in Carlisle ( which sounds familiar to me, and I remembered that this was the name of one of the Cullens (vampiro guapo) in the Twilight movies 😀 )



Then I arrived in Edinburgh at 11.30ish. I walked out of the station and asked one of the train officers for the direction. He said it was just 5-10 minutes walk away. I walked along the street with the stunning castle view and was worried to be lost (as I am one of the members of WD – The Wrong Directions, with Khwan, Diana, and who else Khwan? 😀 ), so I decided to take a taxi. The taxi rider smiled and said that I should not have taken the taxi as there was a shortcut to the building which would take me just 5 minutes. *blushed 😀

Now about the conference. It was not quite a massive conference with only about 97 attendees. However, as soon as I entered the room where one of the presentations was taking place, I instantly felt that the audience was experienced and most probably there were famous names among them. *I felt nervous at once 😀  I attended some presentations about CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) and some about translation. All of those were really interesting, exciting, and I learned quite a lot from both the presenters and the audience questions (especially about translanguaging and transparadigming).

Then, it was time for my presentation. I was a bit nervous at first (especially because the presentation was recorded 😀 😀 ). But then as I went through, I quite enjoyed it. I talked about part of my study especially about the complexity of Indonesian linguistic landscape and language policy and how the introduction and reversal of EMI affected Indonesian education especially from the teachers’ perspective. My BAAL-Edinburgh slides here 🙂

As what happened quite often in my presentations, the audience was amazed by the massive numbers of islands, ethnic groups, and languages that Indonesia has. They also said that they could not imagine how complicated language policy in Indonesia was.

An interesting question one of the member of audience asked me was about my personal opinion about the use of English in Indonesia (after I illustrated about the conflicting opinions and the implications of the use of English especially EMI in Indonesia), and she quoted my sentence that ‘Without English it may not be possible for me to be here, speaking to the audience from different countries, and studying in an English-medium university’. I emphasised that we could not deny the importance of English and how we need English as a medium of communication. The important message I wanted to share was that often the over admiration (is this the correct term) towards English and the people speaking English, often led to problems such as what happened in Indonesia, such as the conflicting ideas about nationalism, patriotism, and identity. Also this may often create a barrier for the learners to master the language, such as what one of my participants’ mentioned that she labeled herself to be incapable of learning the language and that learning English was ‘sok’ or pretentious. One thing that I forgot to mention was another important message that in order to succeed EMI or English learning, teachers had to be ready to teach the language or through the language, because if the teachers were not capable of doing that, problems and problems that would appear.

That’s a bit of my reflections on my experiences in Edinburgh. Thanks for reading.

🙂 🙂 🙂







  • This was a great post! Thanks for sharing!

    One thing I like about the LLT SIG conference is precisely that it tends to attract a small number of participants – this makes it easier to network; plus, if you are a regular participant, it’s nice to reconnect with people you’ve already met.

    I was quite intrigued by how you described the role of English / EMI in Indonesia, and the resistance against it. I imagine that this stems from / connects to an discourse that views English as being a foreign language, i.e., an outside threat. But if that is the case, I was wondering whether there is space for the development of a counter-discourse that subverts this ‘us-them’ distinction – in your opinion, would it make any difference if there was a greater acceptance of a ‘local’ variety of English, one with which Indonesians could identify?

  • Richard Fay

    and transparadigming?

  • Sutraphorn Tantiniranat

    Well done Fitri you are in the Right Direction. I’m sure that the audience enjoyed your presentation and your stories as always. I see one implication that our studies share which is what it might mean for teacher educators in our fields 😉 From Khwan, WD.

    • Siti Fitriyah

      Thanks Khwan, WD 😀 😉 Yes, agree, our studies may intersect in this respect, both may contribute to Teacher Education area 🙂

  • Richard Fay

    Can you tell us more a bit more about what you learned about transparadigming and translanguaging?

    • Siti Fitriyah

      I remembered when one of the presenters (Charlotte Kemp) gave an example about her translanguaging experiences while teaching her Chinese students in the UK i.e. mixing her English with some Chinese such as how she put the word please in the beginning of her sentence which is common in the the Chinese dialect her students speak, Putonghua, and not common in English. On her abstract she mentioned translanguaging as changing, mixing, meshing, and interweaving languages. She argued that translanguaging is often seen as the opposite of CLIL in which the target language must be used as much as possible in the classroom. Then she proposed the use of CLIL and translanguaging together in the language classes, which she referred as transparadigming, which is using multiple paradigms within teaching and research and or movement between them.

      These were new terms for me and that’s what I remembered and understand from the presentations and abstracts 🙂

      Another thing that I learned and thought of was about the term ‘pedagogic translation’ which is the literal/ surface translation vs translation, and that it is a common practice in Japan to use the so-called pedagogic translation in language lessons…