Marjorie Rosenberg is originally from the United States and has been living in Austria since 1981. She teaches at the University of Graz, trains teachers and writes materials in the business English field and on methodology. She was the Coordinator of the IATEFL BESIG group for the last five years and recently stepped down to take on the IATEFL Presidency. She blogs about teaching and learning at https://learnerasteacher.wordpress.com/
Here she took time out of her busy schedule to share her experience of MULLing with us.
How long have you been a member of the MULL group?
It is just about a year now. I remember seeing it on Facebook and thinking it looked like a great idea. Then Jill Hadfield added me to the group and I was thrilled to become part of it.
Where do you usually take photos for the group? What kinds of photos do you take?
I had long noticed signs, announcements, menus and other examples of interesting language or quirky expressions as I assume most language teachers tend to do. Joining MULL, however, gave me a purpose for this and I often found myself stopping to get a photo of a sign, either handwritten on a blackboard outside a café or shop, a professional advertisement seen in the public arena or a notice posted in a window. Some of these are from the US, some from Austria where I live and others from places I travel to for work or pleasure.
What do you use to take photos?
I tend to take them with my smartphone as I can then immediately upload them to Facebook.
Have you learned anything about language through taking photos for MULL?
I have become more aware of translation difficulties and how people transform their own language into English. I have also noticed a fair amount of English being used in other languages, in some cases correctly and in some with new meanings or with typical mistakes made by speakers of another language. What I have also noticed quite often are problems in communication of the message that may arise when two languages are mixed together. If the sign had stayed in the original language, the message would have been clear but adding in English words often gives it a completely different meaning or interpretation.
Can you tell us about a memorable photo?
Some of my favorites include one I took in West Hartford, Connecticut outside a chocolate shop. As a true chocoholic, this sign spoke volumes to me. The second one was a mixture of German and English which was understandable to me as a speaker of German but probably fairly misleading to someone who didn’t know ‘Schmuck’ in German means jewellery and may have completely misunderstood the message of what the shop was selling. The last one was taken outside a seaside restaurant in Maryland and it just struck me as interesting.
What do you like/dislike about the MULL group?
I think it is great. It is fascinating see what colleagues and friends around the world post as well as the accompanying comments. It also opens up the world to the richness of language (not only English). I also like the fact that is a cooperative, grass-roots type of ‘movement’, if I can call it that. In addition, I would say that it is a wonderful awareness-raising activity for anyone interested in language and how it works. I have commented on other friends’ photos and suggested they post them on MULL as well.