Sanita Lazdina

I have for the past 7-10 years developed my scientific interests within the field of applied linguistics, and in particular in research on second language acquisition and in sociolinguistic surveys. Most of this time I have worked at the University College of my home town Rēzekne, but since 2009 I have also been affiliated to the University of Greifswald in Germany.

For my PhD, I conducted a study of second language acquisition. I concentrated on the most significant trends in the acquisition and teaching of Latvian as a second language in minority schools with bilingual (Latvian-Russian) education in Latvia. I looked at several models of bilingual education and analyzed changes which have taken place in this field during the past 20 years. My data collection was based on the content analysis method, through which I analyzed different approaches of teaching grammar as they have been used in text books from Soviet Union times until the present day, and on classroom discourse observations. I have also been interested in the content of texts which are used in teaching aids, e.g. how they reveal the changes in the political system and how they reflect the multicultural society of Latvia.

From 2007 until 2009, I did research in a project dealing with multilingualism in the Eastern part of Latvia – the region of Latgale which borders both Russia and Belorusia. Together with my colleagues from Rēzekne University College, we polled more than 9000 respondents for getting data about their language skills, their usage in the individual and social spheres, and their linguistic attitudes. The process of conducting the survey, the questionnaires, a summary of the data and a large number of language maps is published in the monograph “Languages in Eastern Latvia: Survey Data and Results (2009).” Further, the monograph has had a more concrete impact too – based on the data of the survey, researchers have become engaged in discussions with language and educational policy makers to grant Latgalian the status of a regional language, and to include Latgalian in the curricula of schools in Latgale.

During the last 3 years, my interests have also developed into the direction of the Linguistic Landscape method, researching urban areas in the Baltic States for identifying the role of regional, national and global languages. I am particularly interested in the erosion process of Latgalian as a regional language which is still used in oral communication, and which is currently striving for more recognition. Most recently, I have started to look at Linguistic Landscape research from a more interdisciplinary perspective (in a project in cooperation with geographers and economists) and features of an attractive city, of the relationship between language and economy, and between linguistic and economic variables. My present theoretical interests are dealing with a transfer of these ideas to analysing at first my home city of Rēzekne: how could linguistic diversity within the linguistic landscape create a more attractive city for both local people and tourists.