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Research student Dina Strong attends international conference

Dina Strong, Research Student for the Department of ALC, tells us about her presentation at the Residence Abroad, Social Networks and Second Language Learning conference

Dina Strong, Research Student for the Department of ALC, tells us about her presentation at the Residence Abroad, Social Networks and Second Language Learning conference

10 to 12 April 2013

Residence Abroad, Social Networks and Second Language Learning:  'Near or Far, Wherever You are': Reflecting on Erasmus Exchange Students' Identification

University of Southampton

I presented a poster reflecting some ideas emerging from my PhD research at Residence Abroad, Social Networks and Second Language Learning conference at the University of Southampton. The conference was motivated by the increased interest and the growing body of research in the field of residence abroad. This conference attracted contributors from Europe, Australia and North America, presenting their on-going research projects, recent publications and offering future perspectives in this fast growing and exciting field. Below is the abstract offering an overview of my poster presentation:

‘Near or Far, Wherever You are’: Reflecting on Erasmus Exchange Students’ Identifications

The student travelers cross into a new “time-space” (Murphy-Lejeune, 2002), discovering new dimensions, where “the old and the new perspectives merge” (ibid.), and where exchange students mediate between their own resemblances or differences to others, thus trying out and constructing multiple potential identities. Only few earlier studies concentrated on the instability of discourse and were based on the understanding of self and other within the context of student mobility. This paper wishes to bring together and offer a brief overview of the three much overtheorised, yet not unproblematic notions: discourse and identification within the context of student mobility, in order to prepare the ground for a new concept of vehicular identification that is suitable in the context of student mobility. The data from an empirical study of Erasmus exchange students in Latvia will be drawn upon to illustrate this new concept. In order to gain a better understanding of the discursive processes involved in exchange students’ construction and articulation of vehicular identifications, we resort to Discourse-Historical Approach to Critical Discourse Analysis that forms the basis for a thorough analysis of discursive-grammatical features of the collected corpus of interviews. Although the proposed notion cannot offer a universal fit, it is able to conceptualise the three elements present in this study and that shape exchange students’ representations (i.e., the use of vehicular language, the choice of discursive strategies in attributing labels to self and other social actors present in discourse, and the construction of temporary mobility as the context that encompasses the multiplicity of exchange students’ experiences). The topic of the study and the use of interdisciplinary methodology will be of interest to anyone involved in student mobility, critical discourse analysis, intercultural communication and/or theoretical studies of discourse and identity.

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