Research visit to Philipps University Marburg

As part of my postdoctoral research period in the Research Council of Finland funded project Fluency and Disfluency Features in L2 Speech (FDF2; 2020–2024, PI Pekka Lintunen), I spent six months as a visiting researcher at Philipps University Marburg in Germany during January–June 2023. The main purpose of this research visit was to facilitate collaboration with a member of the project’s international advisory board, Professor Sandra Götz

It’s all about collaboration

My six months in Germany ended up, indeed, facilitating the collaboration with Prof. Götz in various ways. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss various research-related and other matters with her in our weekly meetings. Working in adjacent offices also allowed us to deepen and extend our existing collaboration, notably on a study addressing the speaking style and task mode effects on L2 speech fluency. I am also grateful to Prof. Götz and the Department of English and American Studies for making it possible to invite one of our collaborators, Dr. Loulou Kosmala from Université Paris Nanterre, for a short visit to Marburg. Her visit greatly facilitated the progress of our collaborative work on the links between fluency and gesture, which is based on the interactional data collected in the FDF2 project. Our pilot study has been published as part of the DiSS workshop 2023 proceedings. My research stay in Marburg, therefore, not only facilitated the collaboration with German colleagues, but also brought me closer to my other central European colleagues, including Dr. Kosmala.

Happy hosts (me and Prof. Götz on the left) and our visitor, Dr. Kosmala (on the right)

Getting to know the department

While working at the Department of English and American Studies, I had the privilege to get to know the department’s wonderful staff. I familiarized myself with the research done in the department by participating in their Linguistics colloquium research meetings and got to present our FDF2 project to the group. During lunches and other casual meetings, I learned that one of my colleagues, Aoife Holmes-Rein, hosts a podcast called Grandiose Grammar, including 45 episodes (and counting!) on various aspects of English Grammar.

During my stay in Marburg, I also got to witness the beginning of a great new practice facilitating casual encounters among the department’s students and staff, namely the Language lovers’ lunch club (3LC), launched by Holmes-Rein, Kathrin Kircili and Prof. Götz. The department has an Instagram account (@iaa_marburg) where they post about the lunch meetings and other activities at the department.

In the first 3LC meeting, the topic was language change and lexical innovation. Finnish “sisu” mentioned!

Teaching benefits research

While my visit was focused on research, I was happy to get the chance to give some guest lectures as well. I talked about social approaches to language learning on a course focusing on linguistic theory and the history of linguistic ideas. In addition, I gave fluency-themed talks on two different courses: one focused on spoken English and another focused on English as a foreign language. The participants on the latter course were future teachers of English, so we focused especially on the teaching of speech fluency. Getting to reflect on these topics with various groups of students gave a lot of food for thought also for my own research. I am grateful to all students in Marburg who attended these classes and to Prof. Götz and my dear “roommate” at Marburg, Kathrin Kircili, who kindly gave me the chance to join their courses as a visiting lecturer.

Other activities

A lot of my spare time during the visit was spent exploring my hometown, Marburg, as well as the cities nearby. To make the most of the central European rail network, I travelled both within Germany (for instance to Cologne, Hamburg, and Berlin) and to neighboring countries (France). In addition to these non-work-related trips, I also travelled outside Europe during my stay to participate in the annual conference for the American Association for Applied Linguistics in Portland, Oregon. At the conference, I presented preliminary findings on the effects of L1 speaking style and task mode on L2 fluency and got to meet colleagues especially from outside Europe.

The Old Town of Marburg.

All in all, the six months I spent in Marburg were really enjoyable and rewarding, both from personal and professional perspectives. I learned a lot during my stay. I know that our collaboration will continue at least remotely, but I hope I can return to Marburg for another visit sometime in the future. 

Thank you to Prof. Sandra Götz, the Department of English and American Studies at Philipps University Marburg and the Research Council of Finland for making this visit possible.

Text by Pauliina Peltonen

First photo by Sandra Götz, second and third photos by Pauliina Peltonen

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