LEL students go back to school

Not content to confine their academics to the university walls, several of our LEL students have been taking their studies out into the community! Two teams of LEL undergraduates have been visiting secondary schools in Manchester and the surrounding area to deliver workshops on variation and change in English. The workshops, wholly designed by the students with the able and enthusiastic support of MA Linguistics student Charlotte Graham, are centred around Our Dialects, a public web resource on variation in English based on data collected by students in LELA20072 Language Variation and Change. Participating secondary school pupils got to try their hand at pinning accents on a map of the UK, participated in spirited debate concerning which word they use to refer to a soft round bread, and learned about classic studies in the field of sociolinguistics. Throughout, the emphasis was on the importance of recognising dialect diversity and the rich variety of Englishes people encounter in their daily life.

The workshops have been a great success all around, with 85% of attendees reporting that the workshops taught them something new about language, and effusive praise from teachers about the student leaders’ enthusiasm and knowledge. Moreover, they’ve provided invaluable classroom experience for those of our students who plan to go into teaching. The initiative, which was funded by a Social Responsibility in the Curriculum grant to Dr Laurel MacKenzie, will be celebrated at an upcoming event, Wednesday, 20 May 2015 from 4.30pm – 6.30pm in the Kanaris Theatre at Manchester Museum.

Evangeline Grant (second year, English Language) surveys pupils’ words for everyday objects, Altrincham Girls’ Grammar.

Evangeline Grant (second year, English Language) surveys pupils’ words for everyday objects, Altrincham Girls’ Grammar.

Ellie Sime and Laura McCann (both third year, English Language) present classic sociolinguistic studies, Altrincham Girls’ Grammar.

Ellie Sime and Laura McCann (both third year, English Language) present classic sociolinguistic studies, Altrincham Girls’ Grammar.

Alisha Bhagat (third year, English Language) teaches year 13 pupils about dialect diversity, Altrincham Girls’ Grammar.

Alisha Bhagat (third year, English Language) teaches year 13 pupils about dialect diversity, Altrincham Girls’ Grammar.

Hannah Broughton (centre, second year, English Language), Alisha Bhagat (to the right of Hannah), and Shannon Allen (back right, second year, English Language) with year 11 pupils and their teacher, West Craven High School, Barnoldswick (Hannah's old school!).

Hannah Broughton (centre, second year, English Language), Alisha Bhagat (to the right of Hannah), and Shannon Allen (back right, second year, English Language) with year 11 pupils and their teacher, West Craven High School, Barnoldswick (Hannah’s old school!).

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LEL recognised at Union Awards!

Natalie Jennings and Dr Laurel MacKenzie at the Manchester Teaching Awards.

Natalie Jennings and Dr Laurel MacKenzie at the Manchester Teaching Awards.

It’s become something of a tradition for LEL to put forward a strong showing at the Manchester Teaching Awards, held in conjunction with the Student Union Awards. We had several lecturers and postgraduate teaching assistants recognised in 2014 and 2013, and Manchet is now proud to report that this year we kept up our streak! At the awards ceremony on 5 May, Hollie Barker and Joe Hargreaves were recognised as Outstanding Student Reps, Dr Wendell Kimper was a finalist for Most Inspiring Lecturer, and Dr Laurel MacKenzie took home the grand prize of Best Lecturer in the Humanities! Laurel is shown here with Natalie Jennings (fourth year, English Language and Italian), who nominated her; you can read Natalie’s nomination below.

LEL’s string of teaching award successes drives home the special staff–student relationships that we have in this department, as every finalist has been student-nominated. We are proud to be a department where both staff and students go the extra mile.

Laurel teaches through research, which is an incredible way to motivate students and to inspire a deep interest in the subject. She manages to make each student feel like they have contributed something fantastic to the field, and never fails to highlight areas where more research is needed, which in itself makes students want to carry on studying at a high level and investigate the unanswered questions. The fact that Laurel is already so accomplished at her age is proof to us as students that we could also be capable of such success. Where many lecturers are out-dated and old-fashioned, Laurel is very much a  figure in the department with whom LEL students can relate.  Having taken part in two courses taught by Laurel, I have found that she sets high academic goals for her students, and supports them in achieving those goals. For example, this year’s students in the Change Across the Lifespan module were sent an e-mail alerting us to the opportunity to have our research featured in a journal if it were of a high enough academic level – what better way to motivate students to produce their best work?  I can say without reservation that Laurel was born to teach. It is evident from her lectures that teaching young people about her subject is equally as important to her as the research she carries out. Her lectures and lecture handouts are always thoughtfully designed to provide the best learning experience. Whereas many lecturers simply write their knowledge on a powerpoint presentation and read it aloud,requiring minimal effort, Laurel clearly puts hours of effort into each lecture, and asks for students’ feedback so that she can make it even better for the next year. This demonstrates a dedication to teaching which I have not encountered with any other lecturer during my time at Manchester. Laurel displays an active presence on the blackboard site, replying to discussion board posts and bringing up common issues in the lectures and seminars, thus showing her attention to student’s needs. She will often reply to posts or emails late into the evening or at weekends, as well as during normal work hours. She was also more than willing to write a reference for my application to further education after my degree, despite not being my academic advisor. This is above and beyond what is expected of Lecturers, showing that Laurel is one on her own.  Laurel demonstrates an overwhelming enthusiasm for the subject by her willingness to give up her own time to talk about the finer points of the topics covered, and sharing anecdotes of her own experiences in the field, and her upcoming research.  I highly recommend sitting in on one of Laurel’s lectures to experience the extent of her prowess as a lecturer. She is the best teacher I have encountered at Manchester, and fully deserves to be recognised via this award.
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LEL Undergraduate Students at 2015 Undergraduate Linguistics Association of Britain (ULAB)

Seven of our intrepid undergraduate students will be presenting short talks on their research at the annual Undergraduate Linguistics Association of Britain (ULAB) conference at York St John’s University this coming weekend!

ULAB 2015 boasts a number of distinguished plenary speakers and participants from all over the UK. All of LEL’s attendees happen to be presenting on the cutting-edge independent research they did for Language Change Across the Lifespan (LELA30981) last semester. The lineup is as follows:

  • Siqi Liu & Xinyun Lei: Has Barack Obama Changed his Language in Later Life?: A Case Study on ing/in Variables and MOUTH Vowel
  • Ying Zhou & Yaorui Chen: Lifespan Change in /r/-Vocalization and /t/-Flapping: Can imitation trigger lifespan change?
  • Lisa Perrett & Emma Fieldhouse: An investigation into the Lifespan Change of Madonna Ciccone 1984 – 2012
  • Wen Cai: Social Mobility, Geographical Relocation and Linguistic Change across Lifespan

Congratulations to these budding scholars on their achievement!

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Louise Middleton on a local radio program talking about her work on rhyming in rap lyrics

Our 3rd year undergraduate student Louise Middleton was on a local radio program over the weekend talking about her work on rhyming in rap lyrics and also her Linguistics degree here at the University of Manchester. The link to the program is https://www.mixcloud.com/Hannahs_Bookshelf/hannahs-bookshelf-210315-with-special-guest-louise-middleton/ and Louise comes in at 18:50.

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Louise Middleton and Wendell Kimper are in the news!

Are rappers better linguists than SHAKESPEARE? Complex rhymes are ‘second nature’ to hip-hop artists

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Our undergraduate student Louise Middleton and lecturer Dr Wendell Kimper were interviewed by the Daily Mail, talking about whether rappers are better linguists than Shakespeare.

They will be on BBC Radio Manchester today (12th February, 2015) at 8:45 talking about this topic.

Posted in linguistics in the media, linguistics on the web, local events, undergraduate

Language and Linguistics Research Seminar, Edge Hill University, 12 Feb 2015

the Inaugural Lecture of the Language and Linguistics Research Seminar Series will take place on Thursday 12 February 2015, at B004 in the Business School at 6pm.

The speaker will be Professor Raymond Hickey (University of Duisburg Essen), talking about “The role of contact in the history of English”.

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Langwidge Sandwidge Spring 2015

Week 2 — 3 February 2015

Ellen Wilkinson A 3.6

Olga Gordeeva, Acapela Group and Queen Margaret University (Edinburgh)

Week 4 – 17 February 2015

Ellen Wilkinson A 3.6

Svenja Kranich, University of Mainz

Week 6 – 3 March 2015

Room TBC

Ayumi Miura, Kansai Gadai University

Week 8 –17 March 2015

Room TBC

Laura Arman, University of Manchester

Week 10 – 22 April 2015

Room TBC

Mareike Hamann, University of Manchester

Week 12 – 5 May 2015

Room TBC

Henri Kauhanen, University of Manchester

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