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British Association of Applied Linguistics Conference 2015

PhD Student Chieri Noda presents at the British Association of Applied Linguistics Conference 2015

PhD student Chieri Noda

One of the highlights of my second summer as a PhD student was presenting at the British Association of Applied Linguistics conference (3–5 September 2015) held at Aston University in Birmingham. With ten parallel presentation sessions alongside plenary lectures and colloquia over three days, it is one of the largest conferences of its kind. I had the pleasure of presenting a conference paper co-authored with Professor Zhu Hua which was based on our observations of extracts from video-recorded classroom interaction from an eikaiwa (English conversation) school in Japan where small groups of adult Japanese speakers engage in conversations in English with a native English language teacher.

The presentation was titled “‘Reverse ‘onigiri’ and reversing roles? Manoeuvring interactional space and engagement in the eikaiwa classroom”. The main message I was hoping to put across through the presentation was that while the participants oriented to conventional teacher-student roles, they collaboratively created interactional space. They did this using not only linguistic but other embodied resources (e.g. gaze, gesture) and at times by reversing roles (reversing conventional knowledge asymmetry and teacher-initiated sequences).

I started off the presentation with a bit of cultural background to prepare the audience for the transcript I was going to be sharing in which a teacher asks his students about a Japanese sweet referring to it as ‘reverse onigiri’. Using large photos of an onigiri (a ball of rice with a savoury filling) and an ohagi (a ball of glutinous rice wrapped in sweet bean paste), I was able to launch into the main part of the presentation with some momentum. I had originally planned to use the visual slide halfway through the presentation just before commenting on the transcript, but decided to move it up to the beginning the night before. I realised I would need something to draw the audience’s attention right at the beginning especially as my presentation happened to be the last presentation in the last session on the last day which meant diligent delegates would have already heard nearly fifteen hours of talk and spoken to several dozens of people over many cups of coffees/teas, lunches, and dinners. My effort paid off. The audience gave me really useful feedback. Some of the points raised by the audience, such as the implications of the absence of formal assessment and the students’ awareness (or lack of awareness) that the role reversal served as a pedagogical device, will be points I will be reflecting on to help further my research.

The BAAL conference provided me with an opportunity to present part of my doctoral work and to receive valuable feedback. Attending the conference was also a stimulating experience which enabled me to see the diversity of research in Applied Linguistics and to feel I was part of a dynamic community of researchers.

I sincerely thank the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication for giving me financial support for attending this conference.