TLU blog

Anastassia Zabrodskaja : The life of a researcher must be vibrant!

Anastassia Zabrodskaja, Professor of Intercultural Communication at Tallinn University Baltic Film, Media and Arts School is a perfect example, how dedication leads to a successful academic career.

Anastassia Zabrodskaja

Anastassia Zabrodskaja is from Kohtla-Järve. She entered Narva College of the University of Tartu with the desire to acquire impeccable Estonian language skills. After graduating with honours (cum laude), she received a recommendation from her supervisor, Dr Anna Verschik, to continue her career in postgraduate studies. “Exactly 20 years ago, in 2003, I enrolled for a Master's degree in the Estonian Philology at Tallinn University, where the elite of Estonian linguistics were gathered at the time: I was taught by experts in their field, such as Anu-Reet Hausenberg, Mati Hint, Martin Ehala, Krista Kerge, Helle Metslang, Mart Rannut, Jüri Viikberg,” Zabrodskaja recalls. Under the supervision of Dr Anna Verschik and lectures by top experts in their field, Zabrodskaja's interest in the study of language contacts grew and grew. 

Zabrodskaja stresses that her supervisor has played an important role in her research career: “The personality of the supervisor matters! My supervisor, Dr Anna Verschik, became a professor of Estonian as a foreign language in 2006, and I witnessed how brilliantly and engagingly young people can be taught in lectures, and how skilfully the world's contact linguistics models can be applied to Estonian language material.” After completing her PhD thesis, Zabrodskaja continued her post-doctoral studies at the Institute of Estonian Language and General Linguistics at the University of Tartu, what she considers the hub of Estonian language research. She then returned to Tallinn University, where she was elected full professor of Estonian as a second language in 2013. Thus, this year she celebrates several important work anniversaries at Tallinn University.

Looking back on her career as a scientist, Zabrodskaja is reminded of her practical Estonian teacher Reet Pärss, who once used the phrase "vibrant life" (‘pulbitsev elu’ in Estonian – editor) in a lecture. “I heard it for the first time and thought, what an interesting expression!” Zabrodskaja reminisces and says her career as a researcher has also been vibrant: “In addition to my dissertations, I have actively taught and published in the fields of bilingual studies, ethnolinguistic vitality, linguistic landscapes and intercultural communication.” (Read HERE how Anastassia Zabrodskaja got into the field of intercultural communication)

When an interviewer inquires about a professor's recent personal life success, she takes the opportunity to give a short lecture on intercultural communication: “In intercultural communication, there are such concepts as ‘social self’ and ‘personal self’, that is, how many topics we are willing to share with others. I can say about myself that my ‘social self’ is very small.” Therefore, she prefers to talk about her working life and how she really enjoys being a leader in her field, and as an editor of scientific journals, she looks for topics that need more coverage and thinks about who to invite to write for publications. “This is my second year as editor of the international journal Sociolinguistic Studies and my first year as co-editor-in-chief of Frontiers in Communication, Culture and Communication. It is a very exciting undertaking!” Zabrodskaja is delighted.

According to Zabrodskaja, her working life has brought her nothing but satisfaction and happiness so far, and she has truly enjoyed it, adding that she is such a “lucky” researcher to have experienced first-hand the hardships of the people her research can help. “When I started the ADORE project (the aim of the project is to raise awareness of accessible (digital) learning content among communication teaching staff – editor), I was able to break my leg so that I was in bed for six weeks and experienced first-hand what a person with special needs requires.” She adds, “I very much hope that, as a result of our project, we will be able to offer truly educational solutions for publishing accessible content.”

Looking back on her career, Zabrodskaja argues that she would not change a thing. “It is often said that people from Ida-Viru County have a hard time, their Estonian language is not as good, and there are no supportive social networks. I am a very influential exception in this respect. My university career convincingly demonstrates what can really be achieved in science in Estonia when you do research and teach with dedication”, professor shares the keys to success in her research career. “Life must be vibrant!” Zabrodskaja is confident.