Thriving McGill’s DISE Language Education Community Celebrates a Successful Term with Evening Soirée

Published: 5 December 2023

On November 30, 2023, graduate students in the M.A. Second Language Education and Ph.D. in Educational Studies/Language Acquisition Program in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE) celebrated one more successful term. Students met with faculty and their colleagues at the bi-annual DISE Language Education Soirée at McGill’s Faculty of Education Learning Commons in this evening event. Informal and casual events of this type offer students unique opportunities to build community while discussing research and teaching interests, learning more about the Montreal community, and having fun over pizza, snacks, and board games.

“We have amazing students with such diverse backgrounds, experiences, and research interests. I love teaching them because I always learn from them,” said Associate professor Susan Ballinger, who currently directs McGill’s interdisciplinary doctoral program in Language Acquisition and whose research focuses on bilingual education contexts. “Our students and faculty have created such a wonderful synergy together. This is not only a place where we work—this is a place where we can lean into each other without wiping out our differences, where everyone belongs, and where we become stronger together.” said Assistant Professor Pengfei Zhao, who recently joined the DISE faculty. A critical qualitative methodologist by training, she has developed a line of work on critical multilingual research methodology.

Yunjia Xie, who is in the final phases of her M.A. research focusing on plurilingualism in non-Western contexts revealed, “This event offers an excellent platform for us to exchange views and ignite innovative thoughts. For someone like me, who has been deeply engaged in thesis work for the last half year with minimal social engagements, this opportunity to engage and collaborate with peers and professors is incredibly uplifting and energizing.” Informal gatherings, where colleagues can chat, and discuss research allow people to connect on a personal level. “These moments foster a sense of community and provide a platform for meaningful exchanges, especially for those who have completed coursework and may not have regular opportunities to interact within the department,” emphasized Lana Zeaiter, a Ph.D. Candidate in Educational Studies and Faculty Lecturer in the B.Ed. TESL and Pédagogie de l'Immersion Française programs. Cris Barabas, a Ph.D. student in Educational Studies whose research interest is out-of-school literacies of urban queer immigrant youth, stressed the importance of belonging in a community of like-minded individuals. For him, this event is “an outlet to socialize with fellow students and professors in the department.”

DISE Graduate students whose interests lie in Language Education and Applied Linguistics come from quite diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds and share their one passion: teaching and learning languages with a focus on inclusion, social justice, and equity. Angelica Galante, Assistant Professor and President of the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics (ACLA) concluded, “This was such a great event! I heard of students planning to go ice-skating this weekend, developing innovative ideas for future research projects, and even organizing a symposium.” It was an evening to remember.

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