Jessica Bradley and Emilee Moore, University of Leeds
Lang-scape Investigators, an educational engagement project
The Leeds-based TLANG research team have been developing resources for schools based on the project research into the linguistic landscape, supported by funding from the Social Sciences Cluster in the Educational Engagement team. Working with postgraduates from across disciplines – Education and Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies – who have contributed ideas and resources for activities based on their areas of experience and expertise, we are now putting together a website which will have downloadable activities and workshops for use in the classroom. We’re building on a growing international body of work connecting research on the linguistic landscape to pedagogy and we’ll also be providing a literature review and links to other sites and resources.
Our current materials are linked to the Key Stage Two curriculum, and focus on Geography and Literacy, but using creative arts methods. We have called the project ‘Lang-scape Investigators’, inspired by Birkbeck Researcher Daria Pytel in her blog post about the linguistic landscape of Newham, London (see https://tlangblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/the-lang-scape-of-barking-road/). Through this work, children and young people will take on the role of ‘lang-scape investigators’ and research and explore their school and community lang-scapes. The website will be launched soon and we’ll keep adding to it. Watch this space!
Lang-scape Curators at the Festival of Arts and Social Sciences
In June, TLANG doctoral researcher Jessica Bradley and artist-researcher Louise Atkinson (see www.louiseatkinson.net) ran a workshop on campus as part of the University of Leeds’ Festival of Arts and Social Sciences, called ‘Lang-Scape Curators’. This was an interdisciplinary workshop for pupils in Years 8 and 9 who were interested in art or languages. Firstly we introduced the participants to the concept of the linguistic landscape, using David Malinowski’s work as a guide (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1J6Zw55g5JukHe1OeLJPbfhw9kZLkwP6_K_8aMJ1PHwQ/edit) and linking to TLANG linguistic landscape data collection and analysis as well as to the Leeds Voices project in Leeds City Market (http://voices.leeds.ac.uk). The pupils went out onto campus (it was both sunny AND a university open day, so the perfect conditions for exploring!) with flipcams to find points of interest in the campus lang-scape and make short films. We drew from the work of Finland-based researcher Tamás Szabó and his tourist approach to linguistic landscape research (for example see https://tlangblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/04/a-professional-tourist-in-leeds-gaining-new-approaches-to-the-study-of-school-environments/). Pupils reported on their tours and what they found welcoming and unwelcoming. Louise then led a visual arts workshop in which the participants used acrylic paints and cardboard to both recreate the campus and to curate their own. We tacked the paintings up outside the Student Union – therefore curating our own tiny part of the campus lang-scape. Pupils and teachers gave positive feedback on the workshop and we’re delighted to be able to build on it later on this year for a three-day workshop at IntoUniversity in Harehills (http://intouniversity.org/content/intouniversity-leeds-east).
Including undergraduates in development and delivery of research-based outreach activities
In 2016-17 we will be working with undergraduate students to further develop this side of our work through an interdisciplinary research placement module, FOAR2000 (https://arts.leeds.ac.uk/ugresearch/facultyugresearch/foar2000/). The aim of this module is to enable students to get involved with cutting-edge research and to contribute to on-going research activities. We offered a project related to our TLANG research and linked specifically to our outreach and engagement activities. We’re working with our two local IntoUniversity centres in Harehills and Beeston to develop provide lang-scape related visual arts, photography and research activities and workshops for secondary age pupils. The following from the module website gives an idea for the kinds of activities that the students will be getting up to:
In small research teams, you will work on an investigation of the linguistic and semiotic landscape in an area of Leeds. This will involve ethnographic fieldwork, including observations, interviews and photographs. You will then prepare materials which could be used in schools and colleges, a web resource documenting the linguistic landscape, or develop an exhibition. Alternatively, a combination of these outputs could be developed. Fieldwork is an integral part of this project. You will work with members of the TLANG research team to develop your community-based research skills and your understanding of how to conduct research in non-formal settings, such as the street. Links for this project include IntoUniversity, Harehills, with whose pupils you will have the opportunity to develop activities around the linguistic landscape.
We’re looking forward to including undergraduates in our TLANG activities and to seeing the development of their ideas around our work and the activities they produce.
The Lang-scape Investigators and Curators work is led by Jessica Bradley (doctoral researcher) and Emilee Moore (postdoctoral researcher) as part of the TLANG project in the School of Education at the University of Leeds and overseen by James Simpson.
The materials have been developed by postgraduate students Loreto Aliaga Salas, Louise Atkinson, Taiwo Gbadegesin, Rumana Hossain, Kate Martin and Taguhi Sahakyan.
FOAR2000 is led by Kevin Linch in the School of History and Tess Hornsby Smith in the Faculty of Arts.