Know the Lingo: The latest Linguistics Blog from UWE

Contributor: Craig

What is Lingo? Lingo is the new blog for English Language and Linguistics at UWE. It is a staff and student collaboration to encourage communication and engagement with all matters affecting students of language and linguistics.

What’s it about? Lingo is a new hub for language events and news, what’s going on at UWE and in the world of language in general; shared experiences and advice about careers; features of interest relating to all kinds of language matters; and anything else to encourage debate and discussion to engage students with the wider cultural experience of language learning.

How you can be a part of it? We are looking for contributions from anyone with an interest in language and linguistics,particularly anyone who has studied it, or whose work is either linguistics or student-related. If you’re working on a particular project or have attended a conference, or you have some useful advice for students, we want to hear from you.

Who to contact? You can either contact me directly by email at craig3.evans@live.uwe.ac.uk, through Linkedin at www.linkedin.com/pub/craig-evans/65/59a/a88, or visit the Lingo ‘About’ page for further contact information.

Vice President of UWE Linguistics Soceity 2012-13

Contributor: Amy

What? Vice President of UWE Linguistics Society.

Why did you choose this place? I had been a member of the society since it was founded by Tom in 2011 (see related post) – I wanted to get more involved and see the society continue for another year.

How did you find the application process? Committee members are voted in at the society’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). I didn’t have anyone stand against me for the position, so I was voted in!

What do you do here? I attend regular meetings with other committee members to plan and organise activities for the society. I have spent a lot of time researching different things to do in LingSoc and then going on to organise them. In my time so far as Vice President, I have been heavily involved in organising three trips, socials and other activities such as language games/scrabble nights.

The good things: I really enjoy organising things for the society and doing interesting things with like-minded people. Being involved in LingSoc has made uni a lot more fun, interesting and memorable for me. I have developed my organisation and teamwork skills (cheesy, but true!).

The bad things: Not much, except there are a few compulsory things that you have to do as a society with the SU, such as attending meetings.  Also I think that in a position like this, you get out of it what you put in, so you do have to commit time and effort.  As a voluntary position, you have to be motivated enough to do this!

Anything else we should know: If you are part of any society and are really interested in it, I would definitely recommend electing yourself as a committee member. Even though there are titles like ‘Secretary’, ‘President’ and ‘Treasurer’, in reality it is a team effort, you aren’t left to do it all on your own!

Work Placement – Administrator at Sound Thinking Ltd

Contributor: Claire

What? Administrator for Sound Thinking Ltd (an Educational Psychologist and Speech Therapist Team)

Why did you choose this place? I was recommended to contact Julia (the educational psychologist) by one of the teachers where I did some work experience, who is also the sister of another employer.

How did you find the application process? I met with Julia initially intending to ask for some voluntary work, but she then said she would be able to hire me as an administrator, along with some possible voluntary work with Rebecca Hill, the predominant Speech Therapist of the company. Initially it was only 8 hours a week, but as the company has gone from strength to strength my hours have increased!

What do you do here? As Julia completes assessments, I enter the background information provided, gathering important conclusions from the given information; enter the appropriate psychometric assessment information; and Julia’s observations into the report structure. I ensure that this in the current and appropriate format. I also enter the majority of information into Access Arrangements, ready to then be approved and any other information added. Additionally I have other administrator duties such as organisation, creating files, photocopying, sending emails, posting etc. Obviously all documents I edit are approved by Julia after, but the fact that the bulk of the information is entered into the document, makes the report process quicker.

The good things: I love working here! It gives me a great insight into the other allied health professionals that often work with Speech Therapists. Julia and Rebecca are really helpful and I can borrow resources. I have an understanding of a good quality report, and using assessments and the statistics involved. As well as increased ability to examine the information in front of me and piece judgements together to make valid conclusions.

The bad things: None!

Anything else we should know: I am really grateful to have this position! I think those who want to pursue speech and language therapy should not underestimate the value of working with the other allied health professionals, because it gives you an insight into the thinking of those who may be on your future teams!

Graduate Traineeship – Elizabeth Gaskell Library, Manchester Metropolitan University

Contributor: Emily

What? I’m a Graduate Trainee at Elizabeth Gaskell Library, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Why did you choose this place? I wanted to get experience of working in an academic library before starting an MA course in Librarianship – most universities stipulate that you must have had at least a year’s experience in a library before beginning your study.

How did you find the application process? It was just like most other job applications – application form, interview, references – nothing too complicated. In the application and interview I had to give evidence of skills such as customer service, attention to detail and organisation, as well as demonstrating that I’m serious about a career in librarianship. The whole process probably took two months from start to finish, but they were very quick in offering me the job, which I appreciated.

The competition for GT jobs is very fierce; I heard from one employer saying they’d had over 100 applicants for the post, and considering there are probably 30 jobs advertised on the CILIP website throughout the year, that’s tough. The areas in which jobs are advertised are also very limited – most of the posts available are advertised by colleges at Cambridge or Oxford, or are based in London. Regional posts are few and far between, which can be a challenge. The other thing to keep in mind is that most of the posts (but not all) are in university libraries, so there’s not much opportunity for training experience in legal, school or public libraries, for example.

What do you do here? The job is intended to give an overview of all the different types of work that library staff do, and so it’s very varied. I work on the issue counter on a rota basis, issuing and discharging books and dealing with fine payments, and once a week I deal with enquiries at the helpdesk. I spend the rest of my time in the workroom, working on various projects. I recently created a podcast explaining how to use a database and I’ve also created various helpsheets and guides for use in the library. I am responsible for receiving new books and making sure they’re added to the catalogue and reading lists. I’m also involved in digitisation, which is where we create PDFs of chapters or articles and upload them so people can read them online. This is what takes up most of my time, as scanning a chapter from a book can take ages! I also help out with general library duties such as straightening and shelving books, as well as satisfying reservations. My work is also very tangentially related to linguistics – our library caters for speech pathology and therapy students among others, so I’m often working with books on phonology, pragmatics, speech disorders and the nature of language.

There are six other GTs at MMU, spread out over the various library sites, and the library team have set up a training programme for us with various sessions throughout the year. Topics include presentation skills, teaching and customer services, as well as behind-the-scenes tours of library support services, special collections and other libraries.

The good things: Librarians are by nature very friendly and approachable, and so I’ve settled in really quickly. There’s loads of stuff to learn and the training programme is really varied. I’ve had a lot of hands-on experience in dealing with customers which is invaluable and looks great on CVs and MA applications. I’ve become familiar with library management software and several databases and have had lots of opportunities to develop all sorts of skills. I’m even going to help teach an information skills session in the spring! It’s great preparation for a librarianship course and a great start to my career. I’ve also seen what sort of things a subject librarian gets up to, which is what I want to do – I could potentially end up as a Linguistics librarian, which would be brilliant.

The bad things: It can sometimes be incredibly boring – the workloads ebbs and flows, as does the number of students coming in to the library. Despite having a lot of projects, there are still days when there aren’t any new books or any digitisation requests and I’ll be twiddling my thumbs. There’s only so long you can straighten books before your eyes go funny! Also in a more general sense, now is not a brilliant time to be going into librarianship, what with the extensive government cuts to libraries and public services. Even academic libraries, which are probably a lot safer than other types of library, are working on very tight budgets thanks to cuts to HE funding, and there’s no guarantee of me walking into a good professional post after my MA. However, that’s a bridge I don’t need to cross for another 18 months!

Anything else we should know: Librarianship might not be an obvious choice for someone who’s studying linguistics, but a lot of the skills and knowledge you pick up are transferable – for example, if you’re the type of person who enjoys studying syntax, then you probably have the logical mindset that’s useful for cataloguing. I’ve also used my linguistic knowledge when helping speech pathology students think of search terms for databases.

If you want to get into librarianship, a Graduate Traineeship followed by an MA is only one of the routes into the field. CILIP has a comprehensive guide to the sorts of things you could do to get into libraries, and the Library Routes Project and Library Day in the Life Project are good resources too. If you’d like to ask me more about my work, feel free to contact me on Twitter (@heliotropia) or leave a comment on my blog.

Voluntary Position – Volunteer at the Bilingualism Summer School 2012 – Bangor University

Contributor: Callum

What? Volunteer for the Bilingualism Summer School at Bangor (University) 2012.

Why did you choose this place? My reason to assist with the Summer School was down to th experience it would give me, the Summer School had top names in the field of Bilingualism travelling into Bangor and this is something of which I wanted to be part. Names such as, Fred Genesee, Cheryl Frenck-Mestre, Ofelia Garcia, and Bonnie D. Schwartz were to attend, amongst many other experts in bilingualism research.

How did you find the application process? The application process was very easy, by this I mean there were no forms, or references to go around retrieving, Patrick Rebuschat (Summer School co-ordinator) asked students from the School of English Language and Linguistics to help with volunteering, we had around twelve or so helping which was around enough.

What do you do here? Throughout the two weeks of the Summer School the job of the volunteers was to make sure everything ran smoothly, and that visiting guests were content. Being more specific, these duties included helping lecturers set up their classes, escorting guests to lecture rooms, and taking them for lunch post-lectures, assisting with the set-up of events for keynote speeches and poster sessions. Furthermore, a top friend and I were asked to help a partially sighted student for the duration of the Summer School. As you may suspect, we aided this student around, making sure to keep her safe, though we did have her guide dog on hand also! This alone was an entirely new experience for both Fay (aforementioned friend) and I, but we both were able to make a new friend! Agata (said partially sighted student) remarked later that our assistance and care had made her stay in Bangor a very enjoyable one. So that was a very nice reward from the Summer School! The good things: Overall the Summer School was a great thing to have participated in; volunteering meant getting the tuition for next to nothing. Granted we couldn’t attend all advertised lectures, as we had to be in other places helping out and such. However, not just myself, but the rest of the volunteers did a great job, so it all balances out! All the same, to have been able to interact with a whole host of new people, from a vast range of different backgrounds all to unite and discuss and share ideas about bilingualism was a very worthwhile thing indeed! Though some of the talk at the pub may have sometimes strayed away from this, ha.

The bad things: If I’m honest, the schedule for the day was a little packed, which did result in long days, and if you add getting up at eight in the morning it made for a lot of tired people. Though it must be said it was the first time that this Summer School has been run at Bangor, so timing of the day may be altered for any future Summer Schools…that or I simply do not have the stamina to last a long day.

Anything else we should know: One additional thing I feel is worth mentioning is that early into week one I created a Facebook and Twitter page (though the latter was not a great success) to bring everyone together and to keep guests informed of events and ongoings throughout the two weeks. The Facebook page proved quite the success; as people made friends on Facebook as they do and can stay in contact with people they may have otherwise not had chance to see again.

Second noteworthy thing was that I was able to present my BA dissertation at one of the poster sessions, this was quite a unique opportunity that presented itself and I am very happy that I took it! Though my throat became hoarse from all the explaining that needed to be done, I was very proud to be presenting in the same room as people older than myself who had more years of experience in linguistics/ bilingualism.

Final thing to inform you of was that the second day of the Summer School was in fact my graduation from Bangor University (Linguistics BA; 2;1 for the record) safe to say I was unable to help out with most of the events on this day!

— If there is anything you have read from this you would like to know more about, feel free to email me at, callumrobsonsu@hotmail.co.uk, all the same you are very welcome to tweet me @CallumRobson

Voluntary Position – Peer Guide for the School of English Language and Linguistics – Bangor University

Contributor: Callum

What? Peer Guide for the School of English Language and Linguistics at Bangor University; 2010 – 2012.

Why did you choose this place? My Peer Guide when I was but a mere Fresher did an excellent job of helping me settle during my first ever week at Bangor. By this token, I felt a motivation to return the favour as it were, and wanted to give back so applied to become a Peer Guide.

How did you find the application process? For what I was required to do it was a pretty standard set of affairs, a basic application form with a required reference too. That was not too hard to get together; after all the “Peer Guiding Scheme” and academic schools are just wanting some competent, helpful people to be Peer Guides; so they wouldn’t make the application process too daunting. Additionally being part of a smaller school, we only usually get twenty or so wanting to be Peer Guides anyway, this is usually about the right number for the amount of Freshers we get (approximately sixty to eighty).

What do you do here? The principal focus orientates around “Freshers’ Week” (or Welcome Week as it’s also known), that time when, as a lot of you will have done, landed at your University and needed some guidance to assist with getting around, and otherwise settling in. Through a lot of planning, our school provides a week of events to help welcome and integrate new students to Bangor, this includes from quizzes, trips around the area as well as the occasional trip to the pub. You get the idea I’m sure, like most Freshers’ Weeks at University the aim is fun with a side of reassurance, however this system allows for students to be well acquainted with their course mates, as well as having someone look out for them, before their first year has truly begun. Of course, the work does not stop the minute Freshers Week ends, it is important to keep in contact with the new students during the year, I, for example, usually invite my Freshers out for a few drinks at the end of their first year of study, then once again a few months later, just to catch up, and check they’re in good stead.

The good things: For me, this is all down to the relationships formed between, firstly, working with the Peer Guides as a unit. A team which have a goal to create a successful Freshers’ Week for all involved, and that in itself is a rewarding prospect. I should make mention here that I came up with a ‘mentoring’ scheme
within the Peer Guides, that is to say the ‘senior’ Peer Guides are paired with a ‘junior’ Peer Guide. The idea of this is that, in some way like with the Peer Guide/Fresher relationship, the ‘junior/senior’ Peer Guide relationship allows new to learn from experienced. Of course, this is a two way thing, new Peer Guides
may themselves bring new ideas to the front which are always welcome, and these can initially be discussed with their senior Peer Guide, before being brought
up in meetings, as an example. I must of course make mention of the Freshers themselves, as this is what the scheme is here for! It is actually a very pleasing experience to aid your Freshers through their life at University, helping them settle in, and everything in between.

The bad things: I won’t go into anything specific here, all I’ll say is you’re working with people, so that’s going to be the main source of anything going wrong. All I’ll say is make sure everyone on the Peer Guide side of things, everyone has planned things out and you should generally be ok. Otherwise, Freshers’ Week can be a little tiresome with a lot of running around involved, but this is what you signed up to, so you can’t really complain. And at the end of the day the positives out-weigh the negatives with this sort of things.

Anything else we should know: If your University does not have a Peer Guiding scheme and you feel it would improve Freshers’ Week, bring it up with your respective school/University and make some inquiries! I have found it a fantastic two years’ worth of experience, working with both Freshers and Peer Guides that will certainly be high up on my written CV!