Final-year student Matt Williamson has completed the first part of the fieldwork for his dissertation on multilingualism at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

Matt Williamson at Liverpool John Lennon Airport

With the full co-operation of the staff at the airport, Matt spent several hours exploring the various sections of the airport, retracing the steps a passenger normally follows in order to assess the extent to which the public space is presented multilingually. This fieldwork took in escorted visits behind the scenes at the airport, including at the UK Border in the arrivals part of the airport. Matt joined staff from the UK Border Agency as they processed arriving flights, and saw first hand how the challenges of multilingualism are met.

Recording multilingualism at Customs

Matt’s research falls within the field of sociolinguistics, and his dissertation, worth 30 credits as part of his degree in French, builds on the original research he undertook as part of his year abroad. Matt worked as an English Language Assistant at a secondary school in Autun, Burgundy, and produced a year abroad project essay on multilingualism in the public space at three tourist sites in Burgundy, including the Hospice de Beaune. Back in Liverpool, Matt is applying some of the theories he initially considered in France to the ways in which Liverpool John Lennon Airport accommodates for travellers who do not speak English.

The University of Liverpool is grateful to John Lennon Airport for its support with this project

Matt’s research is on-going but he has submitted a proposal to present his findings at the annual British Conference of Undergraduate Research which will take place at the University of Warwick in March 2012.