Interland Researcher of the Month: Emmanuelle Labeau




To kickstart Interland’s brand new blog we’re introducing a special ‘researcher of the month’ feature, in which we will shine a spotlight on one of our talented researchers. This month you have the opportunity to get to know Emmanuelle Labeau a little better. Here’s what she has to tell you about herself:

You will never guess from my accent where I come from. Of course, it is not from France, but from Belgium… but yeah, you’re right… it is a French accent!

After completing a degree in French linguistics and Literature and a teacher qualification, I joined Aston University as a graduate colloquial assistant but after a few months, I was entrusted with written classes. The difficulties my students encountered in mastering the French past tenses spurred me into embarking on a PhD, awarded in 2003. Now a senior lecturer in French Language and Linguistics, I also lead the ever-increasing University-Wide Language Programme. My research interests revolve around French in its many guises: I am working on a monograph on the past historic and I am involved in international collaborations on movement periphrases with Jacques Bres (Montpellier, France), sociolinguistic variation in the expression of future with Hélène Blondeau (Florida, USA), comparative study of French and Serbian with Tijana Asic (Kragujevac / Beograd, Serbia) and the constitution of a corpus of French as spoken in Brussels with Anne Dister (Université St Louis, Belgium.

  1. What is the best thing about your job?

Being an academic has many highlights: the constant learning curve, the relative freedom in managing one’s research interests and timetable, the international dimension brought by collaboration and conference attendance… However, the most rewarding part of my job is the human dimension: helping students and younger colleagues to discover their strengths and unleash their potential.

  1. Why did you decide to join Interland?

My latest project, a British Academy small project on French as spoken in Brussels, has potential for interdisciplinary developments and there is a lot going on around cities within Interland.

  1. What are you working on at the moment?

Too many things! An edited book from my latest conference, a handful of papers, the preparation of 4 conferences in the next two years, writing a couple of research bids, trying to learn a new software, planning a book on movement periphrases in Romance languages, leading strategic developments in the Association of French Language Studies of which I am the President…. While making strawberry jam so that our new garden’s gigantic crops don’t go to waste!

  1. What achievements are you most proud of?

Two things come to mind at a professional level. On the one hand,  I am proud of having led the University Wide Language Programme from a fairly modest operation to one of Aston’s biggest success stories and unique selling points. My vision for languages has been fully embraced by the University and is a major objective of Aston 2020 Strategy. On the other hand, I derive much joy from my former students’ achievements in academia. Yet the biggest achievement needs to be my lovely little boy.

  1. How do you like to spend your leisure time?

My what? In a former life (pre-maternity) I used to enjoy reading. I dreamt as a girl to lead afrugal Laura Ingalls’ type of life. My little house is not in the prairie, but it has a fairly big garden so I enjoy making elderflower cordial and preserves from our crops, for which I cannot take any credit! I also like all things vintage… so much that I am turning into one myself ;-)!

  1. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you most like to have with you and why?

If it is a tropical island, I would need a house with air conditioning because of my sun allergy. I would take a Bible as it is a library in itself, and obviously my laptop (solar powered?) as it would be a perfect opportunity to catch up with all those projects… with  a good internet connection so that I can call for help when I have had enough…

7.  What would you like to achieve in the next year?

Efficiency and serenity!


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