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 In Focus

Verbal Interaction Studies

Published 2001-01-22

At the end of 2005, an Institutional Grant was yielded to the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies of Stockholm University, together with its partner department of Language Sciences at the Catholic University of Chile, for the implementation of an exchange programme: "Verbal Interaction Studies in Santiago and Stockholm" (VISSAS). The first two years of the programme are now being completed and a following two-year period of funding started off in July. Total funding allocated is 2.4 million SEK.

During the first two years, the VISSAS programme has made it possible for nine Chilean scholars, ranging from professors to undergraduate students, to visit the Stockholm department, and, in the opposite direction, four senior researchers and three PhD students from Stockholm have visited their Santiago partners. The purpose of these visits have varied: some scholars have done both teaching and research, others mainly research; all have attended scholarly seminars at both institutions.

A majority of the Chilean participants, regardless of the scholarly level they had just attained, have fruitfully used their time to plan their future research - be it a Master´s dissertation, a doctoral thesis or a post-doc project. In this planning, not only staff of the Spanish/ Portuguese/ Latin American Studies department has been helpful in giving advice and support, but also the English Department, the Centre for Studies in Bilingualism, and the cross-disciplinary Interaction Seminar at the Faculty of Humanities, Stockholm University.

The Swedish participants, both doctoral students and senior researchers, have been particularly active in collecting data for their current and future research. The senior researchers have also given seminars in Santiago for projects groups and students at various levels.

On top of this exchange, an external expert (Professor Luisa Granato from Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentine) has paid one visit to each partner for lecturing and tutoring purposes.

Apart from the individual benefits resulting from the exchange, several collective spin-offs deserve mentioning. Two large-scale scientific projects have received ample and valuable support through the programme. One is the Chilean project named GRUPES, which deals with the interaction taking place in workgroups. The expected outcome of this project is not only detailed descriptions of the type of interaction involved, but also findings regarding necessary conditions for cooperation and consensus-establishing in general. The other large-scale project is "High-level proficiency in second language use" funded by the National Bank of Sweden. Here, the Spanish language of Swedes living in Chile is the main object of study which has been directly supported by the VISSAS programme.

Another type of cooperation regards the creation of a new doctoral programme in linguistics at the Santiago department, which will become a reality from 2009. In this process, Stockholm scholarly staff has been actively used as consultants. Yet another project is opening a programme for Stockholm students to study Spanish for one semester in Santiago at the Catholic University. Already in 2006, as a corollary of the STINT Institutional Grant, an encompassing agreement on cooperation and exchange between both universities was signed.

Picnic on the beach near Campus Lappis Frescati

A very important overall effect has been the goodwill and social team-building which has been taking place among the staff of both institutions. Although the participants have certainly been doing hard work during their respective stays, there has also been time for leisure activities and social bonding.

Lars Fant
Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
Stockholm University

Senast uppdaterad: 08-08-14 14:18

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