Jessica Bradley and Piotr Wegorowski
Friday was the fifth and final day of the summer school. The weather had cooled down dramatically from earlier in the week and we were all tired but still full of energy and thoughts for how we might be able to take forward the ideas that we had been discussing over the course of the week.
We started the day with a panel discussion which focused on translanguaging, engagement and interdisciplinarity. The panel was comprised of Birmingham-based creative practitioner Orit Azaz, Leeds-based doctoral researcher Jessica Bradley whose research focuses on translanguaging and street arts and community arts, Janice Connolly from Women and Theatre, AHRC Translating Cultures theme leader Professor Charles Forsdick, Professor Ian Grosvenor from the School of Education at the University of Birmingham, Dr Bharat Malkani from the Birmingham Law School, Professor Kiran Trehan from the Birmingham Business School and Cardiff-based doctoral researcher Piotr Wegorowski who recently completed a policy internship at the Welsh Assembly. The panel was chaired by Dr Frances Rock. Bharat and Kiran are both senior researchers for the TLANG project, each providing specialist advice on their areas of expertise.
The panel discussed the processes of inter (or trans) disciplinary research and public engagement and impact. Each speaker gave the perspective from their own work and experience, with Orit and Janice giving crucial practitioner viewpoints. Key themes arose from the panel presentation around time and resource. Relationship building takes time and this can sometimes not be factored in to project planning and timescales. Interdisciplinary working also takes time, different perspectives need to be considered and ways to enable this need to be developed. Kiran talked about her own experiences of interdisciplinary working and how being a senior researcher for the TLANG project had given her the opportunity to work with linguists and to develop her own research in different ways.
We then had questions from the floor which ranged from how we can use theatre and performance as method in research, to what kinds of mistakes we have made in co-producing and collaborating in research. We discussed important issues of quality and evaluation. Charles talked about the recent Connected Communities publication, Creating Living Knowledge and a recent publication by Professor Keri Facer and Professor Kate Pahl, ‘Valuing interdisciplinary collaborative research’. We talked about the affordances of a ‘translanguaging lens’ for considering how we work in an outward facing way, collaborating with our research participants and how the TLANG project has been an innovative space for conducting research in this way.
After a short break we had a series of presentations by the delegates from South Africa who are part of the Global Challenges Research Fund project which is linked to the TLANG project. Four universities were represented. We started with the University of Limpopo and a presentation by lecturer and doctoral student Abram Mashatole who asked how we can be agentive in closing the gap between policy and practice. Sisonke Mawonga from Rhodes University followed with a presentation on using translanguaging within the framework of university access and outreach. Dr Naomi Boakye from the University of Pretoria asked how translanguaging can be developed for university language policy. Soraya Abdulatief from the University of Cape Town described strategies to use students’ languages in English-dominant educational contexts, with Robyn Tyler, also from the University of Cape Town discussing the access paradox. We want to give students access to academic registers but we also want to illuminate the possibilities of other registers. Xolisa Guzula from Cape Town asked how we can take work from the periphery into the core university spaces. Translanguaging in South African university contexts can be seen as a point of tension between the positivity of a translanguaging classroom space and the English language-based assessment.
We then closed the summer school with a final session about what should happen next. Angela talked about the TLANG project’s final conference in March 2018, the networking assembly which will be held in Cardiff in December, the creative arts labs in Autumn 2017 and a project with Women and Theatre. She then thanked the delegates for what has been a wonderful and intellectually stimulating few days. TLANG project administrator Sarah Martin was thanked in particular for her fantastic work planning and organising the summer school – and her tireless effort in making sure we all had the best possible experience during our week in Birmingham.