Marjorie Rosenberg on MULLing

flowered blazer Internet

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

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.

Chocolate is the answer by Marjorie Rosenberg    CC BY 2.0
Chocolate is the answer by Marjorie Rosenberg CC BY 2.0


Schmuck for you by Marjorie Rosenberg    CC BY 2.0
Schmuck for you by Marjorie Rosenberg CC BY 2.0





No Pets on Deck by Marjorie Rosenberg    CC BY 2.0
No Pets on Deck by Marjorie Rosenberg CC BY 2.0

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.


Thanks Marjorie!



MULLers in marriage

A and N marriage pic
Photo by Gabriel Carrara

Natália, an English language teacher from Brazil, recently married Andrew, a Welshman who used to be a loss adjuster before moving to South America. Their relationship has been sprinkled with MULL photos spanning two continents. They have kindly agreed to be our first interviewees, answering questions about their involvement with the group.

A photo from Wales

How long have you been members of the MULL group?

Natália: I think I was one of the first MULLers. About a month later, I added Andrew, who was only a friend at the time. Little did I know that we would soon be mulling together.

Where do you usually take photos for the group?

Natália: Most of the photos we take now are in the city we live in of course, but I used to take advantage of frequent business trips to do some mulling on the side.

Andrew: Not to mention the honeymoon! And random bus trips I take now and then. It’s curious that as a loss adjuster, I used to travel the UK extensively, but I hadn’t yet caught the MULL bug. So most of my pics have actually been taken in Brazil, as I am picking up the language from the signs around me.

Mulling on honeymoon


What kinds of photos do you take?

Natália: All kinds. When I traveled to the UK, puns drew my attention. They were everywhere. Here in Brazil what I like photographing is the use of English and other languages mixed with Portuguese. I find it interesting to consider the status attributed to different languages, including those that do not usually show up, such as indigenous languages.

Andrew: I photograph combinations of languages too, and things that look peculiar, such as mistranslations.

Indigenous languages


 What do you use to take photos (e.g. smartphone or camera)?

Andrew: Mostly our smartphones.

 Have you learnt anything about language through taking photos for MULL?

Andrew: What I learnt was to pay attention to language in a way I didn’t use to. And it’s fascinating.

Have you had any interesting experiences along the way?

Andrew: Well, we did get married.

Natália: And you moved to Brazil. So quite a few interesting experiences, but as far as Mull is concerned…

Andrew: Trying not to look shifty when you take photographs.

Natália: And ignoring the bewildered looks around you… However, what I thought was most peculiar was the conversation we had mid-honeymoon. There we were in idyllic Paraty and we wouldn’t stop taking photos for MULL. So we were discussing whether a new post would break the rule of one post a day when I remembered, “wait, YOU posted, but I didn’t.” Moral of the story: less than a week married, and MULL helped us find out that no, we are not one, but two different individuals.

Can you tell us about a memorable photo?

Andrew: “Passion juice” in a hotel in Belo Horizonte. It had me laughing maniacally before my caffeine injection regime had commenced.

Passion juice
Passion juice

Natália: “Porque toda marca cool tem de ter um slogan em inglês.” (=Because any cool brand needs to have a slogan in English) I took this photo even before MULL came to existence, but it kind of sums up much of the use of English in Brazil. People don’t seem to care whether what they write is correct. It’s the status that the language brings to the table that interests them, I think.

Status of English
Status of English


What do you like about the MULL group?

Andrew: The fast wit and humour of other MULLers.

Natália: And the respect MULLers show to one another when discussing controversial topics.

What do you dislike about the MULL group?

Andrew: There’s nothing to dislike…

Natália: … now, but I have to admit there was a certain someone that used to rub me the wrong way. Anytime a non-native speaker made a typo, there they were, correcting. When a native speaker of English made a mistake, this person would stay put. We even devised an experiment… I had Andrew make a mistake in a comment just after this person had corrected a fellow Brazilian MULLer. Not a peep.

Andrew: Now, now, Natália, where is the respect MULLers are supposed to show one another?

Anything else you’d like to share?

Andrew: I blog about my Brazilian experience on Before you ask, I’m not a trekkie. James is my middle name. It’s just a coincidence.

Natália: Hey, no shame in being a trekkie! And with Andrew, I’ve been learning a lot of colloquial British English, which I post on my online Vocabulary Notebook ( ) . Also, I blog about TESOL on Richmond Share. ( In addition, MULL English language teachers might be interested in joining BRELT, the community of EFL teachers in Brazil ( . And thank you, Damian, for the invite.

Andrew: Thanks. And we’re looking forward to the first MULL get-together: Brazil chapter.

Map of the Urban Linguistic Landscape: Want to Get Involved?

Linguistic Landscapes

It’s been a busy few weeks since we launched this site, with news about our new book and then one of us deciding to go on holiday (thanks for that Damian).  So busy, in fact, that we just haven’t had the time to launch the projects we have lined up for this site.

The basic idea is to involve people as much as possible, and as much as you want, in the area of Linguistic Landscapes.  Many people are happy to look at the photos that are posted on the Facebook Group page and Flickr, others actively comment on images people post and debate the meanings of the language, while other people are assiduous in tracking down and finding some brilliant examples of language in the wild.

A few people, though, have suggested they might like to contribute a bit more to this ongoing project.  If you are one of these people then we would like to hear from you.  We are interested in publishing here your thoughts and experiences of the language you see around you.  Some ideas we have had include:

Behind the photo

Tell us about what was going on behind the camera for an image you captured.  Where were you?  Who were you with?  What happened before or after?  Did you get any strange looks or comments from other passers-by?

The one that got away

Tell us about that great image you saw, but disappeared before you could whip you camera out.  Or maybe there was an advert that you passed every day and kept thinking you’d take a photo of it, but then it came down before you got around to it.  We’ll believe you.

I take photos of random pieces of language because…

Why are you interested in taking pictures of words?  What effect has it had on you?  What about your friends and family?

One from the archives

Take a look at the photos we have on Flickr and find one, or more, that you really like for some reason and tell us why.

Connect the dots

Perhaps there are a few photos that follow a similar theme and you’d like to highlight the language use, or the similarities and differences between them.  They could be your own photos or some you have found from the Flickr site.

Something else

These are just our ideas.  If you can think of something else you would like to write about, please just get in touch.  You can find us in the Facebook group, on Twitter, leave a message below this post, you can email us at stephen@tmenglish or or you can check out our About Us page.


Images used on this page

Very good restaurant Image: MULL by Ben Goldstein – CC BY 4.0

There will be haters: MULL by Damian Williams – CC BY 4.0

Yoghurt emotions: MULL by Ilá Coimbra – CC BY 4.0

Pet fantasy: MULL by Damian Williams – CC BY 4.0

Usual person: MULL by Paula Boyce – CC BY 4.0

I wait for answer: MULL by Hana Ticha – CC BY 4.0

Coming Soon: Linguistic Landscapes – The Book

Linguistic Landscapes - The Book
Linguistic Landscapes – The Book

It seems that the good news just doesn’t stop coming.  Hot on the heels of starting this site to support the growing community on Facebook, we are delighted to announce that we are soon to publish a book full of great exercises for using the linguistic landscape to teach and learn languages.

Our proposal has been accepted by the good people at The Round and so now all we have to do is write it.  We already have lots of ideas and have published a couple of these on The Round’s website in their Labs section for people to comment on.  We think we know what we are doing (famous last words), but we would appreciate any insights or tips you might have by taking a look at giving us some feedback.

Obviously, this means that we are going to busy writing away for the next few months, but we will still have time to set up the projects we have been planning for this site as well as continuing to collate all the images from the Facebook group to our Flickr page.

What is The Round?

The Round is ‘an independent collective of creative individuals in English language teaching’ which seeks to allow ELT professionals with good ideas the space to publish.  The ideas they are looking for are those that are often overlooked by the traditional publishers, perhaps because they fit a niche segment or are innovative or critical.

The Round also seeks to be fair to its creatives by offering reasonable deals and, at the same time, make their products available to educators at as low a price as possible to make them accessible to everyone.

What is Labs?

Labs is a space available for writers to show the projects they are working on and invite feedback from readers or other people who may have valuable experiences.  We have been thinking about this project for a long time now, so it is entirely possible we have driven down a cul-de-sac and are missing some obvious points.  Please feel free to go to the Labs page for our book and let us know where we have gone wrong and how we can remedy the situation.