Changes

Preamble: this blog post is a new one after a two-year long break from WordPress, after my PhD viva (defense) at HK PolyU and University of Technology Sydney; after my first full-time research job at PolyU, and after my first full-time teaching post at CityU.

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Finally, my own (shared) workspace – thanks LT for accommodating me well.

I have not forgotten this WordPress page — I have two, but I feel more comfortable writing here. I wanted to call this page my “SFL Excursions”, borrowing Prof Christian Matthiessen’s favourite word ‘excursion’. But this is more like my own excursion, my own adventure, and my own life; so I’m ‘Erik the Linguist”, about my life as a linguist, and a linguist who does some music.

Some of you may be aware that I’m no longer working at PolyU. I have been working at Department of Linguistics and Translation of City University of Hong Kong for a month. I am Graduate Teaching Assistant for Prof Jonathan Webster’s signature GE course Language in Art, Invention & Inspiration. I’m taking care of the tutorials, and moderating student activities on Canvas, the online learning and content management platform. As Week 4 has just passed, and it’s a long weekend, I find it a good opportunity to sit down and reflect on my little post-PhD excursion a little bit.

As the preamble introduces, I have gone through a lot of changes since my last post about Fairclough when I was still struggling with my PhD thesis in Sydney. The thesis finally went to the examiners in March 2017, and was successfully defended in December the same year. Following this will be perhaps my last congregation as a student this October, wearing a bonnet as one of my primary goals of doing a PhD (no joke).

Submitting the thesis meant going jobless, at least to me, as a candidate without lots of publications. My former chief supervisor, Dr Gail Forey (now in Bath University), was so kind to let me take part in her project on scaffolding secondary school literacy through SFL metalanguage until her departure from PolyU in July 2017. I then moved towards a few part-time research and teaching posts, managed to make ends meet and start saving up for my wedding. At that time I took 5-6 part-time jobs, and it was really draining.

Then, another chance waved at me cheerfully. Right before my viva, I was invited to join Prof Matthiessen’s research team, and work on his healthcare communication project. It was my first full-time research post since 2013, and I learned a lot through collecting data at hospital with doctors and nurses, writing systematic reviews, managing finance and admin, as well as a group of very diligent RAs. This experience even helped me have a better understanding of how to talk with doctors and nurses, as my dad was admitted to hospital for treating pneumonia lately.

After nine months, there came my first full-time teaching post at CityU, as I’ve just mentioned earlier on. It’s a very flexible position, since Prof Webster is very open-minded and lets me do whatever topic I like during tutorials; he has been very encouraging and positive about my teaching so far. My favourite thing to do in the class is analysing lyrics, something I did during my MA. I can’t believe this topic comes back to me like a cycle — I have now another powerful tool to examine lyrics, especially those by The Beatles. When my analyses take shape, I’ll definitely share it here.

As was promised, my publication list starts growing. I have no immediate pressure to write as a temp staff at CityU, but I need to write, and of course, I want to write. A few exciting things are going on: my recent submission to Journal of English for Academic Purposes has been reviewed with very kind and constructive comments; my proposal to JEAP‘s special issue commemorating Prof Michael Halliday has been accepted; a book chapter about HK indie English lyrics is under way, and my co-authored paper with Gail to Journal of English for Specific Purposes is going through the final stage before getting approval for publication. All these are only possible thanks to the ones who’ve been helping me along the way. Prof Jim Martin’s advice — “Keep striving” –is surely taking significant effect.

That’s all from me. I’ll resume posting topics relevant to my excursion in the realms of SFL, discourse analysis and academic literacy. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!

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