Richard Fay

University of Manchester
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Richard 1My professional background lies in intercultural communication and language teacher education for TESOL, so maybe it is not surprising that, when I think about how and why my interest in researching multilingually arose, I can now see tell-tale signs of a multilingual process element in my early professionally-based research. Thus, my work on secret (e.g. Polari – see Cox & Fay, 1994) and specialised argots (e.g. Seaspeak in a Polish maritime college – see Fay, 1994) involved research studies and texts with a collaborative, multilingual dimension.

I can now recognise the multilingual thread throughout my academic life. For example, both my doctoral thesis (Fay, 2004) and recent MusM dissertation (Fay, 2011) involved some Greek language elements amid the largely English-medium study respectively of educational and musical phenomena in Greece. Still in the Balkans (Bulgaria), my current work with Leah Davcheva on Ladino (e.g. Davcheva & Fay, 2011a, 2011b) also involves a multilingal research process. As I now consider my researching multilingually narrative, I realise that the multilingual dimension results largely from my preference for international, collaborative research teams which, although they are often English-medium in organisational terms, nonetheless incorporate, and/or report in, other languages (e.g. Bulgarian, Greek, Mandarin, Spanish).

However, it is through my work as a language teacher educator and MA and doctoral supervisor – working in an English-medium academic setting (at The University of Manchester) with experienced educators from around the world as they research their home contexts in diverse cultural and linguistic contexts – that my explicit awareness of the complexities and possibilities of doing research multilingually first arose. Some of the flavour of the developing curiosity that my doctoral students and I experienced is captured in this poster which we created to accompany a first conference paper on this theme (see Fay, Zhou and Liu, 2010): ppt.

Around the same time, at a BAAL ICSIG event, a serendipitous discussion – between myself and Mike Byram and our two doctoral students (Xiaowei Zhou and Shu-Hsin Chen respectively) – paved the way for our first exploratory seminar on doing research multilingually at Durham University in July 2010. This is where Prue and Jane and Mariam and others joined the exploration, bringing with them their own narratives of developing curiosity in, and experience of, and competence when researching multilingually. And from those initial explorations flowed the BAAL Colloquium on this theme in September 2011.

And the rest is history as they say 🙂


  • Cox, L. and Fay, R. (1994). Gayspeak, the linguistic fringe: Bona Polari, Camp, Queerspeak and beyond. In S. Whittle (ed.), The Margins of the city. (pp.103-127). Aldershot: Arena / Ashgate Publishing.
  • Davcheva, L. and Fay, R. (2011a). Snatches of Spain in the stories of Sephardim in Bulgaria. Paper presented at the “1st Global Erensya Platform Summit”, September 19th-21st 2011, Sofia Bulgaria.
  • Davcheva, L. and Fay, R. (2011b). The Roles of Ladino in the Identity-Play of Sephardic Jews in Bulgaria. Paper presented at the “4th ENIEDA Conference on Linguistic and Intercultural Education – Negotiating and constructing European identities across languages and cultures”, Vršac, Serbia, 29th September –1st  October 2011.
  • Fay, R. (1994). The ‘newspeak’ approach: distance training in ESP for the general English language teacher (unpublished MEd TESOL dissertation). Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester.
  • Fay, R. (2004). Stories of Emergent Cultures of Distance Learning and Collaboration: Understanding the CELSE-Hellenic Open University Project (unpublished doctoral thesis). Manchester: School of Education, The University of Manchester.
  • Fay, R. (2011). Ways of Understanding: Ethnomusicology and the Cretan Lyra (unpublished MusM dissertation). Manchester: School of Arts Histories and Cultures, The University of Manchester.
  • Fay, R., Zhou, X. and Liu, T-H. (2010). Undertaking narrative inquiry bilingually against a monolingual backdrop. Paper presented at “Narrative Matters 2010 – Exploring the narrative landscape: Issues, investigations, and interventions”, hosted by the CIRN in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, May 20th – 22nd 2010.

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