Welcome to Kate!

Hello! I am thrilled to be fully joining the team, having loved my time at UWE as an associate lecturer this past year. Here’s a bit of an intro to me and the work I do…

I’m a forensic linguist, which (broadly) means that I study the use of language in investigative and legal contexts. My current research focuses on first response police officers’ interactions with victims of domestic abuse at the scene of reported incidents. First response ‘call-outs’ are high-pressure, often high-emotion scenarios in which communication can easily break down. Yet the success of these encounters hinges on communication on both evidential and relational bases: officers need to find out what happened and victims need to feel supported. This is an un(der)studied setting because of the complex but crucial privacy measures involved. My research relies on police body-worn video (BWV) and the participation of the people it shows.

Because so little is known about talk in this context, I take a highly inductive approach to uncover the micro-level interactional features that contribute to what goes wrong (and right) during call-outs. Building on my PhD research at Cardiff University, I’m about to start work on some new BWV footage, with the ongoing aim of feeding these insights into police training. Beyond this, my wider research activities centre on spoken interaction in a variety of institutional contexts, with a focus on power, gender and vulnerability. I’m therefore really keen to explore some of the interdisciplinary research opportunities at UWE.

Originally from the north coast of Ireland, I caught the linguistics bug with an MA at Queen’s University in Belfast, before a job opportunity in Fiji whisked me away (as you can imagine!). I then spent ten jam-packed years working throughout the South Pacific Islands, Australia and Asia. The path back to this side of the world involved a distance MSc in forensic linguistics from Aston University, and a couple of babies…! I’ve now lived here in Bristol for the past five years and love this city.

This coming year (22-23) I’ll be teaching Language at Work, Studying Speech Communities, Constructing Languages, (Phonetics and) Forensic Linguistics, Nonverbal Communication and the second term of our shiny new module, Language, Environment and the Law. We have a brilliant community of Englist Lang & Linguistics students, and I look forward to seeing lots of familiar and new faces in September!

Welcome to Mark!

Earlier this month we welcomed Mark to the English Language and Linguistics department. Here is what Mark says about himself:

Hello, everyone!

I am glad to join the English Language and Linguistics team at UWE.

I was born and raised in Ghana, and studied in Ghana, Norway and Hong Kong. I come to UWE from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), where I held the PolyU Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship and examined the representations of mental illness in the Ghanaian news media. My PhD research, which explored the interplay of discourse, ideology and mythology in politics, furthers understanding on the content, form and function of political myth and illustrates the role of language and (post-independence) leaders in political decolonization processes.

I am an interdisciplinary scholar who investigates how people deploy language in specific spatiotemporal and sociocultural contexts to achieve various aims, including identity construction and negotiation, self-promotion and othering as well as argumentation, resistance and (de)legitimation. I am particularly interested in language and identity, language attitudes and stereotypes, language and diversity, language and the media and language and/in politics. My research has a critical orientation; therefore, it aims to raise awareness about various complicated constructs in society and to illustrate how research on language use can translate into social transformation.

Who I am as a teacher is a direct result of who I am as a learner. To this end, I employ dialogic teaching where I situate myself as a learner-cum-facilitator who models active listening and engagement. I also take a critical approach to curriculum development that underscores commitment to diversity in teaching, assessment and student support.

My teaching philosophy is grounded in the core principles of relevance, reciprocity and value-addedness, and I strongly believe in multiperspectivity because when people/students see beyond their own experiences they can begin to understand the complex framework in which education exists. My aim is to guide my students to learn how to learn by evaluating and synthesizing various bodies of knowledge. This term, I will teach Critical Discourse Analysis, Intercultural Communication and Making Meaning.

Apart from my work in academia, I run a career and grad school consultancy firm. I also lead a mentorship scheme that provides guidance and support to students (especially in developing countries) who want to pursue further studies. I am furthermore interested in volunteerism, sports and music.

I look forward to a fulfilling experience at UWE – see you around!

Welcome back!

This week we’ve welcomed students back onto campus. It’s been wonderful to see (and hear!) people chatting and getting to know each other after a difficult academic year, which was mostly completed online.  

For our new first year students this is a time of great excitement but also nerves and uncertainty.  

Here, two of our current second year students share their experiences, top tips and highlights from their year of lockdown learning.  

“Lockdown linguistics” 

By Alice Carr  

Starting university was nerve-racking, to say the least, perhaps enhanced ever so slightly by the fact that we could see much of it taking part online. This did turn out to be the case, but I wouldn’t change it! 

My earlier days were much more normal, I was able to meet a few of my lecturers in person and plenty of my cohort, all of which were so welcoming (even with their faces half covered by masks!) The in-person lectures I could attend were interesting and relaxed. What followed was A LOT of online recordings and Microsoft Teams chats. Nevertheless, the lecturers made it more bearable than I could ever have wished for, keeping the morals high and all of us engaged.    

Before my start date, I believed I had to have everything: the books, paper, stationery piled high enough to stock WHSmith’s, it was stressful. What I wish I had known was the strength of the support bubble the linguistics team at UWE gave to me- breaking down everything clearly and concisely so I knew exactly what I would need for the course. It turned out I had overbought massively! What is also useful to know from the get-go is the sheer amount of material available to you, such as the library and meetings with your PAL leader for help in a subject or just for an informal chat.  

I will say, the greatest highlight of my ‘lockdown’ first year was the ability to become a student rep. This grew my confidence massively as it allowed me to support both myself and my peers during such a bizarre and uncertain time. I guess it was nice to be able to turn up to lectures from the comfort of my bed, but I vow never to moan about walking to the lecture theatre on a Monday morning ever again, even if it is in Bristol weather! 

My first year 

By Ben Bryan 

I do not believe many people start university without any uncertainties about how their experience will go. For myself personally, I arrived at UWE to study English Language and Linguistics in October 2020, not knowing anybody and having previously only visited Bristol once. Despite all that, I soon became settled in my new surroundings and those initial uncertainties very quickly eased.   
Unsurprisingly, the first year was a challenge. Starting university in the middle of a pandemic meant both my work and social life was constantly changing. With that being said, the biggest credit I can pay to both this course and Bristol is, despite all that, I have still managed to have a great first experience. 

The highlight of the course last year was being able to learn about the different branches of linguistics – it really helped me to find areas of interest. The support systems in place and the communication with lecturers have also made it easy to discuss concerns and aspects of the course in greater detail which was imperative for engaging with the course.  

The most reassuring aspect of Bristol for anyone moving here is that there is something for everyone. It’s a diverse city that provides both historical and modern features. With a strong social life, a variety of places to go out and events to experience, anybody can move here and find something they can engage with. The challenging part for me was finding enough time to make the most of the opportunities here, and going into second year, I’m still discovering things I want to experience! 

Despite everything, I had a wonderful first year and can reassure anyone who is about to do the same that they shouldn’t be worried about the experience they are about to have!  

Welcome to Felicity!

We’re delighted to announce that last week we welcomed Dr Felicity Deamer to our team here at UWE! Felicity will be joining us as a Senior Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics. Here’s what she has to say about herself:

I’m really excited to be joining UWE and can’t wait to get going! I’m coming to UWE having spent the past two years working as a Research Fellow in Aston’s Institute for Forensic Linguistics (AIFL), where I have been engaged in a number of strands of applied research. I have been working with Aston colleagues (in partnership with UK police forces) to explore how police investigative interviews get repurposed and used as evidence in court. We have focused on the transformation that takes place in which an audio recording of an interview is transcribed, and how that transcription, though treated as an identical substitute for the original audio recording, typically falls short of being an accurate representation of what was said and how it was said.  

I have also been looking at violence and the use of restraint on mental health wards. I have been examining body-worn (worn by nurses) camera footage from mental health wards in order to ascertain whether there are particular communicative and interactional patterns (i.e. speech acts and/or turn-taking dynamics) that precede the escalation of violent episodes in patients in acute mental health settings, and whether there are particular types of talk or exchange initiated by nurses and other mental health staff that result in a positive de-escalation of these violent incidents that could reduce the use of restraint on wards.  

I have come to my current research having worked for the previous six years as a collaborative researcher on interdisciplinary projects at Durham University; my work there centred round the application of mixed methods in linguistics to mental health research. Before this, my doctoral research at UCL focused primarily on metaphor comprehension, and the development of figurative language comprehension capacities in children, in particular. Over the years, my research has used whatever methods, experimental and analytic, are best for tapping into what I am investigating, ranging from eye tracking, to conversation analysis, questionnaires, and interviews.  

In TB1, I will be teaching Making Meaning, The Language of Life, and Critical Discourse Analysis. In TB2, I’ll be teaching Phonetics and Forensic Linguistics, and Nonverbal Communication. 

Outside of work, I spend most of my time rushing around after my two small boys, and I love running and food! 

Undergraduate research internships

Bristol Centre for Linguistics takes on 2 Interns over the summer 2020

by Dr Kate Beeching (Director of Bristol Centre for Linguistics)

Jess Freathy (third year, English Language and Linguistics) and Megan Crouch (second year, English Language and Linguistics) have been awarded Undergraduate Learning and Development Bursaries to support ongoing research projects in Bristol Centre for Linguistics for 10 weeks over the summer. They will work on a range of projects including the ways that the coronavirus has been framed, by government or in the press, through the use of military imagery (‘wrestle it to the floor’), how gestures contribute to communication, sociophonetics, linguistic relativity and child language acquisition. 

This is the 5th year of the research centre hosting summer interns and it is a great way for students to gain (paid!) research experience, working with the linguistics team. Past internship students have gone on to further study after they graduated.

Jess and Megan will be sharing their experiences on the blog over the course of the summer.

CDA speeches! A practical exploration of Aristotle’s artistic proofs and other rhetorical techniques

by Craig Evans

For last week’s Critical Discourse Analysis module, several students volunteered to write speeches which they then delivered in the seminars. The purpose of the exercise was to explore the way that features of classical rhetoric, in particular Aristotle’s artistic proofs, work in persuasive writing. The format involved four speakers in each seminar making opposing arguments on two topics. After each speech the rest of the seminar group were asked to discuss the rhetorical merits of the speech; and after each topic, a vote was held to decide which argument had won the most support.

The two topics chosen by students to speak on were immigration and the Oscar Pistorius trial. Speakers were asked to argue against or for the following propositions:

“Immigration has gone far enough and a firm limit should now be placed on Britain’s borders”

“Oscar Pistorius is guilty of murder and should be sentenced accordingly” Continue reading

Introduction to our Programmes

by Jeanette Sakel
We’ve had many potential students looking around UWE last Saturday at our Open Day. For those who want to see our presentation again, I’ve attached the slides we use to present our field.

There is also a video – which I recorded last year – that introduces what we are doing here at UWE: http://youtu.be/uKDIM3SHjEM

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me (jeanette.sakel@uwe.ac.uk)

The slides from Open day (2014-15) are here:
Open day Linguistics and English Language 2014_October1

Volunteering for East African Playgrounds

by Harry Westwood and Beth Swindell
Are you looking for a new experience? Would you like to make a real difference? Do you relish the chance for a bit of adventure? Then how about volunteering for East African Playgrounds, a charity that builds playgrounds for rural village schools in Uganda.
You can join the UWE playground project team who are spending a month working with 18 other volunteers, building a playground and hosting arts and games classes for the children in Uganda. The unique aspect of this project is that volunteers get to build the playground from start to finish: on day-one there is an empty field; a month later you will see scores of happy and excited children playing on a brand new playground which you not only built, but also helped fund.

And the best thing about how we work is that volunteers get to live within the community, which means they make friends with the locals as well as the kids, who are very excited to have them there. Our volunteers need no experience, just enthusiasm, a desire to help and an appetite for new experiences!

This is the link to our information pack: http://issuu.com/east.african.playgrounds/docs/volunteer_info_pack2

This is the link to the application form: https://eastafricanplaygrounds.wufoo.com/forms/ugvol2015/

If you’d like more information please contact us on volunteer@eastafricanplaygrounds.org com or visit the website at http://www.eastafricanplaygrounds.org/
We are having an information meeting at 5:30pm Thursday 2nd October, 3E12 frenchay where you can meet the charity and find out more about the project!
Many thanks, Harry and Beth (UWE playground project team leaders)

Gain an extra qualification – for free!

by Jeanette sakel
We offer a great additional award to all our students at UWE, called the UWE Bristol Futures Award. Many of our students have already signed up – if you haven’t take a look here: http://www.uwe.ac.uk/futures/

It’s really easy:
– Sign up
– Notify them of activities you are probably doing anyway (such as volunteering, work experience, student rep, student ambassador, student society, etc.) – or be encouraged to take part in more such activities to help your overall employability prospects!
– Gain an extra award, which will be really useful for your CV and help you with your job prospects!

All current students can sign up (so it’s not too late if you’re already at level 3).