First-year of study M.A. theme seminars (1MA THEME) for winter term 2023–2024 (Full-time programmes)

What is this list?

This is a list of theme seminars we intend to launch in the winter term (October–February) in our full-time M.A. programme in English philology (Filologia angielska) whose first year of study is the academic year 2023–2024. This list is intended for:

  1. Students at the Faculty of English who are about to enter the first year of their full-time M.A. programme: this is your reference point before your enrolment into theme seminars;
  2. Candidates for our full-time programmes: this list gives you a snapshot of what theme proseminars were on offer for the study cycle that started in 2023.

How to navigate the list?

The list is sorted by name of the teacher. The format is as follows: the title of the theme seminar, the name of the teacher, and the description of the theme seminar.

Options in (English) language teaching: What do teachers need to know?

Prof. UAM dr hab. Krystyna Droździał-Szelest

“The field of language teaching is subject to rapid changes, both as the profession responds to new educational paradigms and trends and as institutions face new challenges as a result of   changes in curriculum, national tests and student needs” (Richards and Farrell, 2005: vii).

Hence, the goal of the theme seminar is to provide an overview of the field with a particular emphasis on some key aspects related to the design (i.e. what to teach?) and delivery of language teaching (how to teach?).

As it is impossible to find sure answers and easy solutions to what happens when teachers and learners meet in a language classroom, the seminar focuses on options that teachers have at their disposal to make the teaching as efficient as possible, bearing in mind that none of the teaching options is pedagogically superior to or more effective than the others.

The “what to teach” component addresses language teaching/learning objectives, including, among others, the concepts of linguistic vs. communicative vs. intercultural competence, as well as the concept of English as a lingua franca (ELF). It also presents content options in terms different types of syllabuses.

The “how to teach” component focuses on methodology – approaches, methods, techniques, principles, etc. – that are used in the classroom to achieve specified objectives. Special attention will be given to more recent developments, such as teaching English for specific purposes (ESP), content and language integrated instruction (CLIL), using IT in the classroom, etc.

Important: the participants are welcome to suggest topics of interest/relevance to them!!!

  • attendance;
  • course work (preparation for class – including presentations, homework, participation in class discussions, etc.);
  • end-of the semester written assignment (topics/areas/format to be discussed/agreed upon during the first meeting)

Approaches to the Study of Sound Structure and Speech

prof. dr hab. Katarzyna Dziubalska-Kołaczyk

The theme of the seminar is borrowed from the title of the book which my colleagues have kindly dedicated to me. The book is an overview of many areas of research with one common denominator – sounds. It is divided into three major parts, devoted to diachrony, theory and empirical studies. From my perspective, another common denominator is a rather amicable approach of the authors to natural, phonetically based explanations as well as their interest in language acquisition.

In order to enable the students to read and enjoy selected articles from the book, I will first introduce them shortly to the theory of Natural Phonology. Natural Phonology belongs to the unorthodox approaches to phonology and acquisition. Its focus is on the speaker and language use as well as on the extralinguistic conditions that shape the usage and acquisition of language.

Later in the course, the participants will be asked to read and present in class the selected papers from the cited book. I decided to repeat the theme of the previous year since it turned out to be popular among the MA students.

Major reference

Approaches to the Study of Sound Structure and Speech. Interdisciplinary Work in Honour of Katarzyna Dziubalska-Kołaczyk. Edited by Magdalena Wrembel, Agnieszka Kiełkiewicz-Janowiak, Piotr Gąsiorowski. 2020. New York and London: Routledge. DOI 398 pages. eBook ISBN9780429321757.

Race, home, and (un)belonging in texts by Canadian black and multiracial writers

Prof. UAM dr hab. Agnieszka Rzepa

The seminar is devoted to race, home and (un)belonging as theoretical concepts and lived experience. Literary texts by Canadian black and multiracial writers reflecting and fictionalizing this experience, and reflecting on it, will be read against the background of Canadian historical and social realities, and broader theoretical approaches to the three concepts. The texts to be discussed represent a variety of genres: life writing (memoirs, personal essays, etc.), fiction and poetry.

Structure-dependence and the hidden texture of language

prof. dr hab. Przemysław Tajsner

We will take a closer look at the phenomenon of structure-dependence, arguably the key property of human syntax.  We will start from some apparently trivial puzzles, e.g. why in the sentence: Can eagles that fly swim? the modal can is linked with the verb swim and not with the verb fly. Or, why do we say: the bombing of the cities is, and not the bombing of the cities are a crime, even though the sequence the cities is appears to violate Concord? We’ll thus reflect on the primacy of hierarchy over linearity and wonder why children obstinately ignore linear order and derive their knowledge of syntax almost exclusively from hidden structure. We will talk about the set of mental constraints which determine what a possible human language may be, and we will briefly refer to the role and prospects of neuro- and psycholinguistic experimentation in uncovering this hidden texture of language. This will lead us to some hot issues, such as how AI generates language. For example, we’ll reflect on how AI can handle different types of ambiguity and whether it makes use of structure-dependence for disambiguation, or whether big data and statistical analysis would do the job instead.