Sunday, July 31, 2011

Reflections on AAAL 2011 Chicago--Monday morning

Monday, March 28, 2011
Monday was a long day. I woke up early with every intention of going to the colloquium on identity. As I was walking toward the room I saw an old friend from Purdue, Karyn. We had taken a course together on Postmodernism. AH, that was my dream class! Anyway, that's another story, back to the conference. Karyn was standing in front of a room. We exchanged greetings and she asked me if I was coming to the colloquium by the Ad Hoc Committee on Advocacy. To be honest I was planning to go to another presentation. I told her that and she said 'well, you can join us later'. I said I would. So, I went to the colloquium on identity as I liked Kramsch's work and I was looking forward seeing her and David Block. Kramsch is certainly one of the first names that comes to mind when it comes to ecology and applied linguistics and David Block was one of the important figures in the debate I wrote my thesis on--yes, the theory wars ^_^. So I was definitely not missing this one. Or, so I thought.
Anyway, below is the info about the presentations.

Dervin, Fred (University of Turku & University of Eastern Finland,
Kramsch, Claire (University of California, Berkeley,

Researching identities: What methodological options are available for applied linguistics?
The last decades have witnessed an epistemological re-evaluation of this multifaceted concept of identity. In applied linguistics identities can be tackled through various research methods. Putting aside “soft constructivism” or “neo-essentialism”, this colloquium relates epistemological advances on ‘identity’ and research methods.
Monday, March 28, 2011 • 8:15 am - 11:15 am • Michigan A • LCS
Discussant: David Block

Colloquium Papers
Anna De Fina (Georgetown University,
Power relations and identity: Flexibility and fixity in identity repertoires
Using Agha’s (2007) distinction between emergent and enregistered identities I illustrate the presence of both creativity and stereotypicity in identity constructions within autobiographical talk and narratives told by Latin American migrants to the United States in interviews.

Fred Dervin (University of Turku & University of Eastern Finland,
Going back into the closet: (lay) discourse analysis of fluctuating sexual identification
This paper examines the phenomenon of “going back into the closet” through analysing an online newspaper article and comments it triggered. The research methodology derives from theories of enunciation, which study the instability of identity positions.

Zhu Hua (University of London,
Interculturality: Reconceptualising cultural memberships and identities
The paper argues for ‘Interculturality’ as an alternative approach to the ‘cultural account’ practice. Through examining interaction in Chinese diasporic families, it demonstrates that speakers not only make aspects of their multiple identities relevant, but also develop new social and cultural identities.

Alan Wolf (University of East Anglia, UK,
Intercultural identity and Interreligious dialogue: A holy place to be?
Drawing on a Bakhtinian understanding of identity, the paper formulates an alternative conception of \ the individual subject that incorporates  a polyphonic understanding of the self and acknowledges the role that dialogue has on an understanding of interreligious encounters.

Mary Kathryn Malone (Pennsylvania State University), Celeste Kinginger (Pennsylvania State University,
Exploring Identity Development in Advanced L2 Learners through Contextualized Repertoire and Discursive Stance
This paper illustrates an approach for exploring L2 identity development through contextualized discursive choices in personal narratives by advanced learners of French, based on a sociocultural perspective.

Claire Kramsch (University of California, Berkeley,
Identity vs. Subjectivity: Different timescales, different methodologies.
There has been some confusion in applied linguistics between identity and subjectivity. This paper explores the differences in research questions and
methodologies between identity and subjectivity in language learning.

I think I listened to the opening and the first two presentations but I was not feeling comfortable. Because my conscience was not leaving me alone. I take my words seriously and I had told Karyn that I would come so I decided to go and join the advocacy group. I thought I would go to the advocacy group and come back for David Block's presentation. Anyway, I left the colloquium and went to the advocacy colloquium. Of course, it had started already so I found a seat at the back trying to be as silent as I could. The information is below.

The state of Arizona: Perspectives on practicing applied linguistics in and beyond state-level politics
Monday, March 28, 2011, 8:15 - 9:55 am, Mayfair
Organizer: Karyn Mallett, George Mason University (

Building on the 2010 colloquium discussion with regard to ways in which AAAL members can/do
link academic and advocacy interests, this year‘s session offers the opportunity to think about
and discuss the complexity of practicing applied linguistics within one particular historical and
political context: the state of Arizona. Members of the newly-founded AAAL Ad Hoc Committee
on Advocacy will provide an overview of the various ways in which this professional organization
demonstrates its commitment to advocacy. Featured speakers include Mary Carol Combs from
the University of Arizona, Tim Hogan from the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, Jeff
MacSwan from Arizona State University, and James Lantolf from Penn State University.
Presentation topics include the consequences of state-level language policies based on ―junk
science, the struggle for equality in education for Arizona school children, and an evaluation of
Structured English Immersion. Time will be reserved for audience participation.

Opening remarks
Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala, Colorado State University
From Junk Science and Dangerous Accents to Discrete Skills and Ethnolinguistic
Segregation: Pedagogies and Policies of the Absurd in the State of Arizona
Mary Carol Combs, University of Arizona (
Eighteen years and counting: The Struggle for Equal Educational Opportunity in
Flores v. State of Arizona
Tim Hogan, Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest (
How well does Structured English Immersion work in Arizona?
Jeff MacSwan, Arizona State University (
Closing remarks
James Lantolf, Penn State University (
I'm so glad that I went to this colloquium. I have to admit the picture the presenters drew was quite grim and depressing. I found some of the things the policy makers do quite shocking. It made me think 'OMG, what are these policy makers thinking? But I guess this grim picture and the ignorance of the policy makers is all the more reason to be informed about their 'great' deeds. I think what I took with me from this colloquium was Lantolf's words about our responsibility for changing these policies for the better as experts on language education. He, so rightly, pointed out the general negative attitude in academia toward popular work and explaining 'scientific' findings and theories to general public. Scholars do not really have much initiative for writing a popular book or being concerned with real life problems. Who cares about these things when it comes to performance evaluations and tenure track jobs?  The essential  question here is if we just 'entertain' each other with our work, I mean only other scholars in our field, and shut ourselves off from the outside world then how can we expect to change things like bad policies? And we are in an applied field too. Here I do not mean to suggest that no applied linguist cares or tries to do something but I am just talking about my impression about the general attitude. Anyway, I'm glad that I went to the colloquium on advocacy. It was such a coincidental thing too. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. I think it was a rewarding experience.
After the advocacy group colloquium was over, I went running back to the other room where the colloquium on identity was being held. Alas! I could not even enter the room. Fortunately for the presenters, but definitely unfortunately for me, the room was completely full. No full does not quite capture the scene. The room was full plus there were 10 or so people standing at the door. As I was cursing my luck, I saw Heidi Byrnes and Diane Larsen-Freeman sharing my 'fortune' in not being able to attend the presentations. For a while I tried to hear what was being said but I could only catch glimpses and words. So I left :-( I was not a happy camper but I was happy to see the interest for issues related to identity. I'm sure the presenters were happy about the turn out too.
What else? Yes, I attended Smotrova and Hasegawa's presentations. Now I wonder if following the AAAL program book to write these reflections is a good idea or not. Probably there were some changes in the program. For example, the program book says Smotrova presented at 10:10 but I think I was attending one of the two colloquiums at that time. Maybe I went to her presentation in between. Sorry, I cannot remember my schedule clearly but I do remember the presentations. So I know that I attended Smotrova's presentation. I guess you can say I'm getting old but I have always been like this ^_^. I guess the order does not really matter. So, here it goes
Tania's presentation was one of my favorite. I mean, come on metaphors, academic writing, a multimodal methodology? I though the study was really neat.  Looking forward to reading her future work.

Smotrova, Tetyana (Pennsylvania State University,
Multimodal metaphor in academic writing
The study examines multimodal metaphor in instructional conversation in a university ESL academic writing classroom. Results suggest that metaphorical visualizations, which reveal the meanings invisible in the verbal expression, help the students to understand the dominant conventions of academic writing while also limiting their views to just one perspective.
Monday, March 28, 2011 • 10:10 am - 10:40 am • Superior B • RWL

The other presentation I attended was Hasegawa's. I have read one or two papers by him.
 before and was excited to see his presentation.

Hasegawa, Atsushi (New York University,
Learner Construction of Task-in-Process: CA Analysis of Extension Talk in Semiscripted Pair Work Interaction
This study examines learners’ construction of task-in-process by analyzing cases of similar task-as-work plan and describing how learners construct talk on a turn-by-turn basis. I present analysis of “extension talk” – talk extended beyond what is prescribed by the teacher on a written prompt – observed in pair work.
Monday, March 28, 2011 • 11:20 am - 11:50 am • Erie • PED

I think this was all the presentations I attended before lunch.

To be continued...

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