Dr Mª del Carmen Méndez García

I consider that researching multilingually has greatly contributed to my personal and professional development.

As a member of research project multicultural teams I firmly believe that working with people from different disciplines and with a heterogeneous command of the team language(s) has not only increased my interest in getting familiar with further languages but it has also made me question the role languages and cultures play in the way human beings interact, interpret the world and behave.

As a researcher in Spain and through Spanish I have felt the need of delving into fundamental issues of my own language and culture in connection with foreign language education, particularly in the cases of English and French. Conducting research in my own language and reporting it in Spanish greatly differs from conducting research in Spanish and disseminating it in English. I strive to keep a balance between disseminating results in Spain using Spanish and abroad by means of English. One question I was asked some years ago in a conference I attended abroad has given me food for thought. I was asked why in international venues I do not use my mother tongue, as it is also a relevant world language. I am afraid I still haven’t found a satisfying answer.

In academic terms, I have become aware that using English to design and conduct investigation and to disseminate results has required a change of mindset so that my own research and how it is reported in English complies with acceptable standards of research in an English-dominated realm.

At a more personal level, the subtleties of multilingual and multicultural research have taught me that English as a lingua franca has become the most powerful communication vehicle but that it is not value-free or culture-free as each user of English as a lingua franca instills their own language-and-culture bound worldview into it. It needs a constant process of dialogue and negotiation for which, in my experience, users of English may not have been fully prepared in their foreign language education.