Dr Xiaowei Zhou

As a native speaker of Mandarin, I studied English language and literature at university in China and extended my interest to the field of intercultural communication during my postgraduate studies. I spent years exploring the fascinating topics regarding “language and culture”. It was not until my doctoral studies in Manchester that I realized how hard I had been trying to develop my academic self monolingually in another language while ignoring the value of my mother tongue and its enriching implications for me as a researcher.

My doctoral research, resonating with Prue’s, focused on the academic aspect of the intercultural communication experiences of students from mainland China. It “naturally” involved some bilingual elements from the outset of my thinking, mainly including the language issues I thought I needed to address when generating data and writing up the thesis. Under Richard’s supervision, I gradually noticed so many things to which I had been blind, such as relevant literature written in Mandarin, similar research studies undertaken in Mandarin with unique methodological insights and the potential of richer interpretations of the data when drawing on different linguistic resources. What I once took as “normal” (a discourse foregrounding “language barriers” and “translation accuracy”) then became problematic and constraining to me.

Therefore, I purposefully explored the linguistic issues in my doctoral research as a theme running throughout the study. In May 2010, I presented my first narrative of exploring research multilingually in a conference related to Narrative Inquiry in Fredericton, Canada. After that, I joined the growing DRM group and continued to contribute to this area at the Durham Exploratory Seminar in July 2010 and the colloquium at the BAAL Annual Meeting in September 2011.

I am now a lecturer in Intercultural Communication in the Business School, Edinburgh Napier University. I teach intercultural communication to students from more than twenty countries. Many of them are multilingual and have brought very interesting dynamic to the classroom informed by their linguistic resources. I look forward to adding my enriched experience of working and doing research multilingually to my contribution in the DRM project.