Dr. Lucy Pickering and three of her colleagues decided to organize a Pronunciation Symposium in Australia. The Australian Council of TESOL Association (ACTA) agreed to run the Symposium within the context of their International TESOL Conference, which took place in Cairns in July 2012.
Not only was Pickering one of the organizers and guest speakers at the symposium, but she also presented at the conference with two of her graduate students, Julie Bouchard (from Quebec, Canada) and Shigehito Menjo (from Nagoya, Japan) who are both Research Assistants in the Applied Linguistic Lab at A&M-Commerce.
Pickering emphasized that the conference gave the scholars the possibility to get familiar with the Australian linguistic situation and discuss differences and similarities in local and global contexts.
As Pickering and Bouchard pointed out, both Australia and the United States are faced with the challenge of how to best approach language-related immigration issues. Perhaps the most pertinent of those issues is how to best handle language in the educational setting, and language policies for not only the immigrant communities in both countries, but also for the indigenous populations in Australia. “In Australia they replaced native languages with English to teach aboriginal people at school. A drop in learning within the aboriginal communities has been consequently registered.” From these findings arose the necessity to re-formulate the policies that have been adopted in Australia and to design new strategies in the light of the globalized role that English plays today.
Pickering said the presentations they did at the conference flow directly from the projects being worked on in the lab: Julie Bouchard presented her paper on pronunciation and pragmatics, and Shigehito Menjo presented with Pickering the collaborative research the Applied Linguistics Lab is conducting in conjunction with Georgia State University on speech interaction in an Indonesian call center. “This conference was a very good example of how working in the
Lab extended to both presentations and publications,” said Pickering. The International TESOL Conference in Australia was a unique occasion to give international visibility to the Applied Linguistic Lab, showing that there are people active in the field of pronunciation at A&M-Commerce. Dr. Pickering explained that A&M-Commerce partially sponsored the Symposium, and expresses the lab “is grateful to both the Offices of Provost and the Dean which financially supported our participation to the Conference.” It was also an excellent professionalization experience for Bouchard, pictured below with a friendly turtle, and Menjo, as they were given the opportunity to create networks within the professional community.