Invited Speaker

‘I don’t want to see my children suffer after birth’: The ‘risk of knowing’ talk and decision-making in prenatal screening for Down’s syndrome in Hong Kong

Alice Yau & Olga Zayts / The University of Hong Kong

Abstract In this paper, we examine the ‘risk of knowing’ talk (Sarangi et al. 2003, p.155) in prenatal screening for Down’s syndrome in Hong Kong. The ‘risk of knowing’ talk refers to the consequences of learning about a health condition, such as the psychosocial and interpersonal implications of testing, and the subsequent management of the condition. The stigma of eugenics and that the termination of pregnancy is the only available ‘medical intervention’ imply that the risk talk and decision-making in prenatal screening carry serious ethical, moral and social implications (Pilnick and Zayts 2012). This issue has not attracted much attention in the previous literature. This study is part of a larger project on prenatal screening conducted in one Prenatal Diagnostics and Counselling Department of a Hong Kong hospital in 2006–2013. It draws on 20 video-recorded consultations with pregnant women who had received a ‘positive’ (high risk) screening result and were invited to consider further diagnostic testing. Using theme-oriented discourse analysis (Roberts and Sarangi 2005), we show that in these consultations, the ‘risk of knowing’ talk was not initiated by the health care professionals. It might, however, be evoked by the women. We examine the impact of the ‘risk of knowing’ on decision-making, and discuss specific discourse (linguistic and rhetorical) devices that the participants employed to negotiate three competing agendas: the health care professionals’ preference of diagnostic testing, clients’ concerns of having a baby with Down’s syndrome and the overarching professional goal of these encounters of facilitating the clients’ informed choice regarding further testing.

 Alice YAU  Alice YAU is a PhD candidate at the Centre for the Humanities and Medicine, the University of Hong Kong. Her dissertation focuses on risk and responsibility in the context of telegenetic counselling. The paper that this presentation is based on is a co-authored publication forthcoming in Health, Risk and Society (Co-authored with Dr. Olga Zayts). Miss Alice Yau is the recipient of the Fawzia Braine Memorial Award for the Best Journal Article Published by a Novice Scholar (2013/2014).

Featured Speakers

Understanding language teacher educators’ professional experiences: An exploratory study in Hong Kong

Rui Yuan / The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Abstract This research explores six language teacher educators’ professional experiences in Hong Kong. Drawing on the data from their narrative frames, the study identified some distinct roles in the participants’ professional lives, including teacher, supervisor, learner, researcher, scholar, and change agent. While some of the roles were satisfying and rewarding (e.g., teacher and supervisor), conflicts and tensions occurred in other roles (e.g., researcher and change agent), which could be attributed to the lack of professional support for their continuous learning, the institutional pressure to publish, and the difficulty in bridging the research–practice divide. By taking a reflective stance and exercising their professional agency, the participants attempted to cope with the conflicting roles and found meaning and satisfaction in their work. The study concludes that teacher educators should be encouraged to inquire into their own professional practice and provided with more opportunities and resources to engage in their continuous professional development.

 Yuan Rui Rui YUAN is currently a PhD student in the Faculty of Education at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His research interests include teacher identity, teacher learning, and teacher educators’ professional identity. His publications have appeared in System, ELT Journal, The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, and Language, Culture and Curriculum. Mr. Yuan is a recipient of the HAAL Postgraduate Student Grant for Overseas Conference Presentation.


Self-concept and learning a new language: A narrative case study

Kazuyuki Nomura / The Chinese University of Hong Kong


Since Mercer’s (2011) seminal work, self-concept in FL learning has drawn attention, but the relationship between self-concept in L2 and L3 remains unclear. Focusing on her “language learning career" (Benson, 2011), this presentation reports how Ann (pseudonym), who teaches Japanese in a Hong Kong university, narrated the “internal comparison" (Marsh, 1986) between her self-concept in English and Japanese. Ann’s lower English self-concept derives from her teachers who treated her as a low achiever in an English-medium secondary school, whereas her higher Japanese self-concept is based on her learning experiences that started informally as a “safe house" (Canagarajah, 2004) to escape from anxiety in school but later successfully resulted in  distinguished proficiency in Japanese. The results of the study suggest that learning a new language may compensate for low self-concept in a previously learned language.

Nomura Kazuyuki NOMURA teaches Japanese, translation/interpretation and linguistics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). He holds a BA in Japanese Linguistics and an MA in Communication from the University of Tokyo, and currently an EdD candidate at CUHK. His research interest is in language learner psychology, with a particular focus on multilingual learner self-concept. Mr. Nomura is the recipient of the Richard Pemberton Award for Postgraduate Student Travel at Hong Kong Association for Applied Linguistics


Visual Narratives as Empathy Generators

Professor Michael Bamberg / Guangdong University of Foreign Studies


My talk addresses how in recent years products have been increasingly positioned by advertising strategies to target the establishment of a strong emotional bond between brand and consumer. One prominent strategy to accomplish this goal is by use of storytelling – particularly stories that appeal to themes of human relationship around friendship, love, and romance. In my talk I will explore this process by use of a number of TV-commercials that were aired during the Super Bowl commercial breaks in the years 2011-14 by Anheuser & Bush in their campaign to advertise their brand-product Budweiser. The analysis centers on the interplay of characters, plot constellation, and the way visual and auditory effects (especially the musical underpinning) are employed to bring about an emotionally contagious situation.

Professor Michael Bamberg is coeditor of the journal Narrative Inquiry through which he supports and encourages theorizing and research into narrative from differing perspectives. He is currently teaching at Guangwai/Guangzhou.



Revisiting workplace discourse analysis: Applying James Paul Gee’s approach

Bernie Mak and Mike Chui / The Chinese University of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong Institute of Education


Discourse studies in the workplace are notorious for lacking a comprehensive method. Stubbe et al. (2003) summarize five language-oriented approaches to investigating empirical data of workplace interaction, ranging from conversation analysis on the microscopic and structural level to discursive psychology on the macroscopic and behavioral level. While each of them has its own strengths, a number of holistic models of discourse analysis have emerged recently. In this workshop, we will discuss Gee’s (2011) discourse analysis model which can be adapted in analyzing authentic spoken and/or computer-mediated discourse collected from the workplace. We will demonstrate how different combinations of focal areas and selective uses of argumentative tools may conceptualize a flexible analytical framework in the field of workplace discourse studies. The usage is considered to be a contributive response to modern workplaces where boundaries are in flux.

Bernie C. N. MAK has been working on workplace discourse analysis since 2007. His main areas of research include the use of humor, small talk, expletives, code-switching, and jargon in face-to-face and computer-mediated organizational settings. In addition, he is interested in the development of theory in workplace discourse. He is mastering both qualitative and quantitative research skills.


Talk Matters in Writing: A case study of Malaysian Technical Undergraduates

Swi-Ee Cheah and Kok-Eng Tan / Institute of Product Design and Manufacturing (IPROM), Universiti Kuala Lumpur

Abstract In a writing class, the focus is naturally on the students’ writing. In the process of learning writing, however, instructions take place and this necessitates the use of talk by teachers to facilitate effective learning in class. Yet, fundamental questions such as what types of instructions or talk take place in the writing class and how classroom talks relate to the teaching and learning of writing still require further understanding. This paper is part of a larger study on students’ writing practices in higher education. The study was conducted on a class of 28 technical undergraduates as they learnt to accomplish the technical report in the English language classroom. Classroom observations were conducted to collect audio recordings of teacher-student and student-student talk and field notes. Findings unveil dominant talk features in the writing class that implicates the importance for teachers to consider classroom talk in teaching instructions.

Swi-Ee CHEAH lectures at Universiti Kuala Lumpur. Her research interests include TESOL, writing practices, and classroom research. She is currently completing her PhD in Universiti Sains Malaysia. She is an official delegate from the Maylaysian English Language Teaching Association, HAAL’s partnership association.