Monday, August 1, 2011

Reflections on AAAL 2011 Chicago--Monday afternoon

Monday, March 28
After lunch, I attended the roundtable organized by Canagarajah.
Knowledge Construction in Applied Linguistics: A Reappraisal
Summary: Six applied linguists from around the world will reflect critically on the state of the art. They will analyze how social and philosophical changes in the context of globalization shape the discipline. They will also outline more inclusive discourses in an effort to accommodate the diversity of practices that characterize our field.

Ben Rampton, King‘s College London ( The Implications of Communication in Late- Modernity for Applied Linguistics
This paper addresses shifts in applied linguistics over the last 20 years, and explores their relationship (a) to changes in the real world (e.g., globalization, popular culture) and (b) to sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and the social sciences more generally. It discusses the development of linguistic ethnography in the UK, and assesses our recent experience of cross-disciplinary research methods training and professional development with teachers.

Dwight Atkinson, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana ( Adaptive Intelligence and Second Language Acquisition
Adaptive intelligence is the idea that the primary evolved function of the brain is to enhance organism environment alignment for the sake of the organism's survival. It represents an alternative to the mind-as machine view of cognition. This paper compares these views and investigates the possibilities of adaptive intelligence for understanding SLA.

Lachman Khubchandani, Centre for Communication Studies at Pune ( Language
Plurality of South Asia: A Search for Alternate Models in Applied Linguistics
Traditionally, agencies concerned with social planning have analyzed linguistic heterogeneity as a serious problem of human adjustment. Contemporary disciplines do not take cognizance of multiple languages existing side by side, and a speech community is still identified according to homogeneous constructs. The local and the global, the particular and the universal, should be viewed as two sides of the same coin, rather than competing with each other.

Kwesi Prah, Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society ( The Challenge of African Development in the Context of Current Linguistic Realities and Dominant Knowledge in Applied Linguistics
Over the past few decades it has become clear to many that culture in general and language and literacy in particular are crucial to the development endeavor across Africa. What are the relevant contextual linguistic realities of contemporary Africa? How do they affect the issues attendant on development? How do the dominant assumptions and epistemology in applied linguistics relate to the challenges that face Africa today? This contribution will address these issues and related ones.

Huhua Ouyang, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies ( Dominant
Pedagogical Paradigms and Diverse Teaching Conditions
This presentation reveals how CLT ideological presumptions of individualism, egalitarianism, and liberalism have been challenging/remaking the traditional methods and Chinese danwei characterized by collectivism, paternalism, and conservatism, which explains the strong resistance against and hence the casualties of the innovators. It calls for a more sociological understanding of the seemingly linguistics-only and progressive communicative approaches to language teaching/learning.

Ulrich Ammon, Universität Duisburg-Essen, ( Skewed Knowledge Accumulation in Applied Linguistics as a Consequence of the Predominance of a Single Language of Science: Problems and their Potential Solutions
This paper will show that, even in applied linguistics, the predominance of a single language, English, in international scientific communication excludes contributions from various non-Anglophone quarters and, consequently, contributes to skewed scientific development. The paper will also submit proposals on how the situation could be improved and problems be mitigated.

I think this was by far the most interesting round table I have ever attended and not just because of its content either but rather because how the round table was in terms of the interactions between the presenters. When I went to the event I thought the presenters were going to be there, speak in the same order as the program book says, begin and finish their presentations on time, listen to each other during the presentations, etc. First of all, the presentations were not so much about knowledge construction. Don't get me wrong, the presentations were very interesting and I was delighted to travel around the world, as each speaker was from a different part of the world, and learn about the practices and projects in those countries. Their accounts were honest, personal and thought provoking. I enjoyed the presentations very much, it's just that they were not so much about knowledge construction, or rather what the presenters said was not what I expected. But this is not what made the roundtable, which made me watch the event as an ethnographer, so interesting. I think the roundtable was almost like a breaching experiment. When the roundtable began one of the presenters were missing so another presenter began after Canagarajah's opening remarks. Later the presenter joined the group and we learned that he had lost his bag and was looking for it. I did not hear if he later found it or not. I hope he did. To my surprise, this presenter presented his talk without his slides or notes, because he had lost his bag, wonderfully. I cannot imagine what I would do if I were in his position. Of course, because of all this the order of the presentations were messed up and I guess they were not sure who would go next. Besides the time was running out for the presentations. So Canagarajah was trying to make the necessary arrangements during the presentations as the organizer. In the end, there was not much time for the questions but at least everyone was able to present. I think all the presenters were passionate about their topic and wanted to talk more. Also I think since the cultural backgrounds of the presenters were different their conventions for time management and turn taking, etc. were different too. So anyway, when the roundtable ended I was thinking about all the conventions about roundtables, at least my expectations about roundtables, and trying to count how many of those were breached during the course of the roundtable ^_^.  I'm afraid I was more focused on what was going on rather than what the presenters were saying but I think it all turned out fine. I especially enjoyed Atkinson's presentations and Ouyang's presentation touched my heart.
Now I wish I had taken more pictures at the conference, but I feel embarrassed to take photos of people. These two photos are the only ones I took during presentations. (If you are on the photos and want me remove them please let me know)  
I was exhausted after this very interesting roundtable so I decided to go to my room for a while. I just did not have the energy for the plenary. I came back for the President's reception, met some people, and then went to dinner with my adviser and some new friends. The food was so delicious that I'm determined to go to that restaurant again. Now thinking about it I do not remember the name of the restaurant ^_^ but I remember where it was. I think I can find it. I'm usually very shy when I meet new people but anime saved me. I was very surprised that I could find anime fans even among applied linguists. Good day, good company at the end. It was great!
Speaking of new friends, let me advertise one of those new friend's blog here.
Hey Yosuke! Hope you are having a nice summer.

To be continued...

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