Current research in language and culture

New Zealand sign language

The School's Sign Language Section is working on the following research projects:

Deaf Health Stories project

This project (2017) explores the experiences of Deaf New Zealanders in accessing healthcare and health information. 40 Deaf people from around New Zealand shared their stories about barriers in this setting as well as strategies they have used in advocating for their right to access information, communication, and make informed decisions. This video shows some of the main themes found across the stories, as told by participants themselves. The project was funded by the New Zealand Sign Language Fund. Researchers: George Major, Lynette Pivac, Susie Ovens

Watch 'Deaf health stories': NZSL video on YouTube

As a result of data collection from the Deaf Health Stories project, we have established a new corpus of NZSL at AUT, for the purpose of further linguistic and educational research.

Documenting NZSL grammar and vocabulary

In 2018, the Sign Language Section, in collaboration with Victoria University's NZSL Dictionary team, will be investigating and documenting two aspects of NZSL:

  1. Time concepts
  2. Women's health lexicon

Data will be drawn from AUT's NZSL corpus. The analysis will expand the documentary evidence base about the structure and vocabulary of NZSL, and will inform NZSL and interpreting teaching.

AUT Researchers: George Major and Lynette Pivac. Research Assistant: Karliah McGregor

Towards a pattern language for Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) design

This study, by Susan Y. H. Sun, introduces the idea of educational design patterns and pattern languages in an attempt to connect CALL design to the pattern-based design approach. The purpose is to enable and support conversations among all participants in the design process and help people understand and take more control in educational design.

Apart from communicating design ideas and experience, pattern-based approach researchers also share a strong desire to not ‘re-invent the wheel’. They do this by systematically capturing, codifying design experiences and making good designs explicit, comprehensible and sharable in and across disciplines, and beyond.

Drawing on the approach and extending the already well established research of CALL task design (e.g. task-based language teaching (TBLT), technology mediated task design), this study examines cases of CALL task design, and aims to propose an initial set of design patterns and pattern language for CALL.

Culture, Discourse and Communication

Philippa Smith's research interests focus on communication and its impact on society. She investigates communication from the level of language (media, identity construction, media texts and political discourse for example) through to the rapidly advancing use of new media and digital technologies (e.g. social media, technology and education, digital inclusion).

You can read more about Philippa's research on her profile page.

Design for online language learning

Susan Sun is currently working on the following research projects:

  • Design for fully online language learning — an investigation of co-configuration in relation to set and social design
  • Design for fully online language learning – a preliminary study on language epistemic pattern design.

Legal interpreting

Jo Anna Burn's main research interest is legal interpreting. She has published work on legal language, particularly the questioning techniques employed by trial lawyers and the challenges of accurately interpreting complex questions at different stages of the trial process.

Other interests include using innovative technology to enhance student interpreter learning in legal and paralegal settings, and language maintenance and attrition.

She is currently conducting a major research project on self and peer evaluative feedback for interpreters.