Professor Minna Maijala (right) hosted Professor María Mar Soliño Pazó (left) in Turku between 23 and 27 January 2023 to map common research interests and to explore possibilities for collaboration within the EC2U Alliance.
Professor María Mar Soliño Pazó, who is Professor of German Philology at the University of Salamanca in Spain, and Professor Minna Maijala, who is Professor in Language Teaching and Learning at the School of Languages and Translation studies at the University of Turku, spent a week on the Turku campus getting to know each other and discussing possibilities for cooperation.
– We met on Zoom for the first in December 2022. However, I feel it is important to develop collaboration also face-to-face, Maijala emphasises.
The cooperation began when Maijala expressed a wish to collaborate with an Italian or a Spanish colleague via the European Campus of City-Universities (EC2U) Alliance. An interested colleague was found in Salamanca.
– Those who are interested in internationality but have not established the necessary contacts abroad can easily find suitable partners for collaboration from the universities of the Alliance in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, Romania and soon also in Austria, explains Project Manager Liisa Järvinen.
The pair has already identified German as a foreign language as one common research interest. Additionally, María Mar Soliño Pazó’s research interests include didactic and methodological questions in applied linguistics, cognitive semantics and German-Spanish contrastive studies. She also works with corpus linguistics and the construction of bilingual parallel corpora with a research group of the University of Santiago de Compostela.
In addition to teaching and learning German as a foreign language, Minna Maijala’s areas of expertise are culture and grammar teaching and learning in foreign language education, research of textbooks and other teaching materials, pre-service language teacher cognition and sustainability in language teaching and learning. Maijala also acts as a Project Director in Ethical and Sustainable Language Teaching (EKKO), a project funded by the Kone Foundation (2021-2024).
– Besides foreign language learning and teaching in general, linguistic variation in teaching German as a foreign language is one possible joint project, adds Maijala.
Various Project and Participation Opportunities
Soliño Pazó and Maijala have plans for a joint article or possibly for an EU-funded project. Both have also had the chance to teach in the joint EC2U Master’s degree programme European Languages, Cultures and Societies in Contact. A visit to Salamanca, a city of students like Turku, is in the works.
– At some point it would be great to have students involved and learn more of how German is taught as a foreign language both in Finland and in Spain, Soliño Pazó and Maijala state.
According to the pair, in addition to virtual and physical mobility possibilities, EC2U offers them a framework through which they can explore the questions of European citizenship and aspects of sustainability in language teaching as well as promote teacher education and research, leading to a situation where they can learn from each other. Involving students in projects and short-term exchanges might also serve as a gateway to longer student exchanges to the universities of the Alliance.
The objective of the EC2U Alliance is to create a pan-European campus with a new model of quality education with the aim of facilitating mobility and forms of academic cooperation while strengthening European higher education.
Text: Lassi Yli-Muilu
Photos: Hanna Oksanen & Lassi Yli-Muilu