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Celebrating Excellent Student Research in Applied Language Studies

Excellent student research was celebrated at the recent Centre for Applied Language Studies (CALS) exhibition of final year project work. The final year project is a major dissertation of about 10,000 words which all students carry out under the supervision of a member of staff over the course of two semesters.  The CALS Undergraduate Research Award was introduced this year in order to showcase and celebrate excellent final year project work in Applied Language Studies.

Students first had to submit an abstract of about 300 words outlining their final year project and identify how it aligned with one of CALS’s three research strengths: New Environments for Language Learning; Discourse, Society and Identity; or Plurilingualism and Language Policy. On the basis of these abstracts, students were shortlisted and asked to create a poster of their research project. They were also provided with a workshop on creating academic posters.

The final products were showcased at an exhibition on 24th April, which was attended by the students’ supervisors (Dr. Freda Mishan, Dr. Carrie Griffin, Professor Helen Kelly-Holmes, Dr. Máiréad Moriarty, Dr. Elaine Riordan, Dr. Elaine Vaughan), other members of faculty, fellow students, family and friends. Topics included: gender and language in ‘The Apprentice’, ‘Game of Thrones’ and Disney movies; body image in teen fiction; authenticity of varieties of French; discussion of Angela Merkel’s asylum policy on social media; instructed versus natural language acquisition; and the role of social media in minority language maintenance.

Professor Helen Kelly-Holmes, Director of CALS, spoke about the value of the final year project:

“At UL, we have a very strong commitment to research-led teaching, and working with students on final year projects is a fantastic example of this. We want students to develop a curiosity about their subject and a problem-solving approach which they can sustain throughout their careers.”

Professor Angela Chambers and Professor Eoin Devereux, who were judging the event, complimented the students and their supervisors on the very high standard of work. Professor Chambers commented that the work by the final year students compared very favourably with that on display at academic conferences, while Professor Devereux encouraged all participants to consider MA study and further research.

First place went to Robyn Cunneen (Year 4, BA Applied Languages) for her study of “The Representation of the Campaign for the Recognition of Irish Sign Language as a Language Ideological Debate on Facebook and Twitter”; Second place to Hazel Corbett (Year 4, BA Applied Languages) for her project entitled “Aspiring multilinguists and the global hegemony of English; and third prize went to Sarah Caulfield (Year 4, BA Applied Languages) for her study of “Self-perception and self-representation in Twitter biographies”.

Dr. Máiréad Moriarty, who organised the awards, thanked the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Teaching Board for its generous support for the event.  To see all the posters entered for the award, visit: ulsites.ul.ie/cals.

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