What will we do in this project?

As promised last time, today I provide you with a glimpse into how we work together in this project to research you/our lived language experience. How do we actually grasp experience? And what for?

In interactios with students and teachers of language, I noticed that many of us walk around with questions and topics that center around language. These topics, however, are not just about how ot learn it – many of these questions and topics have a deeper sense to them. Often they link with experiences of understanding and non-understanding, success, belonging, or also pleasure derived from language play and discovering (oneself anew in) a new language. Haias*, for example said, “when I speak English, I am much braver.” Or Theresa* told us that in her first language German, she actually speaks many different Germans – depending to whom.

These two examples illustrate, how different (or even the same) languages have different meanings for their users. But when understanding each other is linked with sharing a language, the ‘same’ language – how do we even manage to relate to each other in diversity?

So I conducted a project with a group of people involved as language learners or teachers in the Austrian context of immigration to collect the topics and questions that move them. Together we tried to work out their meaning and started philosophizing about language (and with language!). In doing so we also used pictures, drawings, and even some plasticine to capture our experiences.

On the pictures you see Theresa’s sculpture. It represents the German language class, which for her, means meeting and getting to know others and with pleasure to do so. Next to it, you see the group’s introductory portrait. We used it to introduce each other with a word we liked in particular. My word was the English word ‘plunge’, simply because I like the sound of it. Other words from participants were ديمقراطية (democracy), Meer (sea), Liebe (love), etc.

photo by Sandra Radinger
photo by Sandra Radinger

If you want, introduce one of your favourite words by using the comment function and tell us what you associate with it!


In the next entry, you will get the link to contribute your lived language experience in the online survey (subscribe to the newsletter, so you don’t miss it!). Additionally, Eva Pecolt will introduce herself. She will support me/us in this research project from September to December.

Until then, thank you for reading! I am looking forward to getting to know you on participation!

Best,

Sandra

*pseudonym

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