Language on the Move in the Middle East

By January 23, 2011Recent Posts

In the past couple of weeks I’ve had the good fortune to be able to visit a number of universities and research organizations in the Middle East. The cities I’ve visited include Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Fujairah, Isfahan, Karaj, Qazvin, Sharjah, Shiraz and Tehran. I’ve tried to share many of my experiences and reflections here on Language on the Move. This post is a review of the Language-on-the-Move tour in the Middle East in blog posts and pictures.

Many of my lectures centred on Intercultural Communication as I tried to share some of the ideas in my new book more widely. So, in my first blog post from United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain, I reflected on the secret of intercultural communication. The first-ever Language-on-the-Move Workshop at Tehran University was one of the many highlights of my tour and inspired the Language-on-the-Move Christmas message. Workshop reports in Persian are available here and here.

At Isfahan University I got to participate in the Faculty of Foreign Languages’ annual Research Week. My blog post from Isfahan had the grandiose title English in Iran. They say that if you’ve seen Isfahan, you’ve seen half the world and so a bit of hyperbole in the title seemed justified. From Isfahan we travelled further south through the Zagros Mountains to visit Shiraz, the city of nightingales and poets. I didn’t hear or see any nightingales but the evening flocks of crows were amazing and reminded me of my childhood in Germany, where these large flocks “coming home from school” in the evening seem to have since disappeared. I got to visit both Shiraz University and Shiraz Medical University, where I conducted a workshop about getting published in international journals (read a report in Persian). Fortunately, I also had a weekend in Shiraz and got to visit Persepolis, the ancient capital of Iran, which is about 50 km away and provided lots of food for thought on language on the move throughout history.

During the flight back from Shiraz to Tehran I had occasion to reflect on the injustice of sanctions that target, inter alia, civil aviation, and sadly another Iran Air flight crashed only a few days after my own intra-Iranian flight. It felt like a narrow escape. Western demonizing of Iran is also the topic of Baking a cookie in Iran. Back in Tehran my schedule got rather hectic with visits to Sharif University of Technology (also check out this Washington Post article), Qazvin Islamic Azad University and Tarbiat Moallem University in Karaj, and so you can look forward to the blog posts from that part of my trip at a later date. In the meantime, reports in Persian are available here, here, here, here, here and here.

Back in the United Arab Emirates, I got to meet education students and elementary and high school teachers at Sharjah Women’s College, Fujairah Women’s College and Zayed University. With its amazing diversity, situated at the crossroads of ancient trade routes and spaces of linguistic and cultural contact, the UAE is ideally suited to reflect on linguistic and cultural diversity, and I found Japan, India and the whole world in the linguistic landscape there.

Along the way, I met so many wonderful colleagues, students and friends that this blog post would go on forever if I mentioned everyone by name, and so I felt it best not to mention anyone by name. Nonetheless, I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped to make my visit such a rewarding experience. Thank you, shokran, sepas gozaram! Inshallah we’ll meet again.

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Author Ingrid Piller

Dr Ingrid Piller is Professor of Applied Linguistics at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Ingrid’s research expertise is in the fields of intercultural communication, bilingual education and the sociolinguistics of language learning and multilingualism in the contexts of migration and globalization.

More posts by Ingrid Piller
  • Manouchehr Kouhestani

    Professor Piller’s workshop at the University of Tehran became a good memory for all linguistics students who attended the event. On behalf of all who were present, I thank her again for your accepting our invitation and wish her more success.

  • Firooz Sadighi

    Prof. Pillers behaviour toward everybody in different situations were fantastic and all my colleagues and students in the Dept. of Foreign Languages and Linguistics at Shiraz Unisersity on Jan 1st, 2011 enjoyed being with to listen to her lecture on New Directions in Intercultural Communication.
    All the best wishes,
    F. Sadighi, Ph.D
    Prof. of English Language and Linguistics

  • What a tour!!! Welcome home and looking forward to more posts on this amazing tour:-)

  • Rahman Sahragard

    Good to hear you are safely back home.

  • khan

    Dear Ingrid

    Congratulations on a wonderful tour. Many students and teachers at Aga Khan University would love to meet you. Look forward to reading blog post on your newer insights.


  • Mira-chan

    Wow..glad to know you arrived home safe!
    It was such an honor to have you here in the UAE, and we were very pleased and proud to meet you and learn from you at FWC. Btw, you look nice in hijab hahaha and even nicer without it :D.

  • Hongyan

    Congratulations, Ingrid! I miss you more when I saw these lovely photos. Look forward to reading more about Iran, UAE and Language on the Move!

  • Shahla Simin

    many thanks Prof. Piller for your nice presentation at the University of Isfahan. i hope Isfahan has left you great memories 😉 hope to visit you more in our universities in future.

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