Saeed Rezaei is currently a visiting scholar in the Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University. He will deliver a seminar about the sociolinguistics of identity in Iran next week and so Language on the Move caught up with him to learn more about the person behind the research.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Born in the southern city of Bushehr in Iran, I received my early education in my hometown and my higher education in Isfahan and Tehran. I studied for a B.A. in English Literature at Isfahan University and then for an M.A. in Applied Linguistics at Allameh Tabataba’i University (ATU) in Tehran. I am now a PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics at ATU and also a lecturer at the Languages and Linguistics Center at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran.
I was recently awarded a scholarship from the Iranian Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology to further my research in Australia and specifically to work at Macquarie University with Professor Ingrid Piller.
In addition to my linguistics research, I also have literary interests and have contributed an encyclopedic entry to The Encyclopædia Iranica at Columbia University. My contribution (in press) is about Manouchehr Atashi, the modern Persian Poet who initiated a new movement in Persian Poetry, jaryan-e sher-e nab (‘pure poetry movement’).
Can you tell us a bit more about your PhD research?
My research is about language, culture and identity in the Iranian EFL context and how modernity and globalization through English language education have shaped Iranian language learners’ linguistic and cultural identity. My approach is mixed-methods and I investigate Iranian English language learners’ linguistic and cultural identities through both a validated questionnaire and post-survey interviewing. The main objective is to research how factors such as L1 background, age, ethnicity, or language proficiency influence perceptions and performances of their linguistic and cultural identities.
What was the inspiration for your PhD research?
I am interested in the social aspects of language and this interest stems from my readings in the sociology of language but also Persian and world literature and cinema. A fascination with linguistics was bestowed upon me through literature. Additionally, I should acknowledge my mentors and inspiring teachers such as Dr. Mohammad Khatib, Dr. Fahimeh Marefat and Dr. Sasan Baleghizadeh.
How and why did you choose to come to Macquarie University?
My first inspiration came from Professor Ingrid Piller’s lecture tour in the Middle East, especially her talks on the social dimensions of language learning and intercultural communication. Since then, I’ve discovered the immense breadth and diversity of Linguistics at Macquarie University, which is ranked in the top 50 linguistics programs globally.
You also teach at Sharif University of Technology. Can you tell us a bit more about your program and your students?
I joined Sharif University of Technology in 2009 and since then I have enjoyed teaching at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Sharif University of Technology is undeniably the best university in Iran and highly regarded internationally. I am truly honored to be academically based there. Our newly established Languages and Linguistics Center commenced two graduate divisions of TEFL and Computational Linguistics in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Since then, we have had several graduates who are either teaching English in Iran or are studying for a PhD elsewhere.
Can you tell us a bit more about Applied Linguistics in Iran?
Applied Linguistics, and particularly TEFL, in Iran has experienced a drastic change in the past 10 years with a wave of early career researchers joining universities across the country. There are many national and international conferences in the field held in Iran every year. However, there are also many problems with existing language education programs at both school and university levels.
What are your post-PhD plans?
Research is my passion and so my dream is to continue doing research as a post-doctoral fellow on an interdisciplinary project that allows me to make use of my expertise in sociolinguistics, cultural studies, and Iranian studies.