Students Organize LANSI 5th Annual Conference, Share Knowledge and New Opportunities
Each semester Teachers College is bursting with events both student and faculty-led. Some are movie screenings, others are lectures, and some are full-blown conferences with online streaming, attracting academics from around the world.
Whether large or small, each of these events need to be publicized, hopefully catered and facilitated. This past November, the Applied Linguistics/TESOL program hosted the Fifth Annual LANSI Conference, organized entirely by students.
Dr. Hansun Waring, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics and TESOL, founded the Language and Social Interaction Working Group (LANSI) in 2011 and hosts its conference annually with the assistance of student organizers.
LANSI is successful in attracting a lean list of respected scholars, while the active and less seen student volunteers humbly carry out more hands-on roles for a chance to meet respected authors and intellectuals in person. Volunteers often facilitate registration, set up the room, distribute pamphlets and help orient out-of-town guests.
Kholood Qumei, one such volunteer, is getting her MA in the TESOL K-12 track, and was manning the reception desk for visitors in between presentations. “I went to LANSI last year, and I really enjoyed it. It was my first year, and I learned a lot about language use, [Conversational Analysis], and discourse analysis. I wanted to do it again this year because of Dr. Waring,” Ms. Qumei said.
The LANSI conference does not rely on a theme, but rather opens the conference up to all types of research relating to social interactions.
“We tend to have presentations on very diverse topics, including morality, technology, education, medical and customer service encounters, to name a few,” said Elizabeth Reddington, doctoral student in Applied Linguistics. “This year is the 5th anniversary of LANSI though, which could be somewhat of a theme Our two plenary speakers, Dr. Courtney Cazden and Dr. Frederick Erickson, were among the researchers who pioneered the use of video-recordings for the purpose of closely examining social interaction, which really transformed the field of discourse analysis.”
Ms. Reddington is Dr. Waring’s research assistant and was appointed president of LANSI, a newly created position, shortly before this year’s conference. “I started going to the data sessions Dr. Waring organized. I liked the atmosphere and experience outside of courses,” Ms. Reddington said. Soon after, she was asked to participate in the organization, taking on larger roles in each successive conference. This year, Ms. Reddington reviewed 80 different proposals sent to their office from around the world.
“Probably the most fun part is actually reviewing the proposals and the abstracts that come in because we get a lot of very interesting and diverse kinds of work from people, not just doing conversation analysis but people doing discourse analysis as well,” Ms. Reddington said.
Nadja Tadic is in her third year of the doctoral program in Applied Linguistics, and this year served as co-organizer for the conference. While Ms. Reddington organized the presenters, Ms. Tadic helped procure the location and set up the room, ordered catering and handled media coverage. She said one of her key tasks was organizing student volunteers, which this year included 15 individuals across the two day event.
“We put together a space where people can come together and practice being analysts and share their work and there can be this kind of interaction between experienced people in the field and graduate students as well,” said Ms. Reddington.
Many of the student volunteers had attended LANSI before and enjoyed it, remarking they would help out again next year.
While the second doctoral student usually shifts every year, Ms. Tadic said, “I’ll definitely participate. I’ll be around to help.”
Nori Kato is a Staff Writer and Office Assistant for the Department of Arts and Humanities. She is also a second year M.A. student in the International Educational Development program at Teachers College.