Language and Literacy in Education Research Group

ioe-clockwebbyThe Language and Literacy in Education Research Group brings together a number of researchers across the fields of education, teacher education, psychology, and first and second language learning. The group is interested in issues relating to the development of language and literacy in instructed, experimental and naturalistic settings. Interests span both first and second language development and pedagogy, monolingualism, bilingualism and multilingualism, including learners of English as an additional language (EAL). The development of literacy is a particular area of interest for several members of the group. Our interests cover learners from the pre-school years through all school phases and into adulthood. Our work includes learners who show typical development and those with special educational needs including dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders and specific language impairment.

In their research members of the group use both naturally occurring and elicited data from language learners, users and teachers, and work within both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. We are part of the University's interdisciplinary institute, the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM), and as such have close links with English Language and Applied Linguistics, Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, Modern Languages and European Studies and the International Study and Language Institute. Work from the Language and Literacy in Education research group is recognised for its importance both nationally and internationally. This research group sits within the University's Prosperity and Resilience theme which mirrors members' overarching aim to foster language and literacy among all learners as a route to self-efficacy and economic well-being.

Staff members of the group and their research interests:

Cara Broadhurst: Teaching early reading; home and school reading links and spaces

Dr Louise Courtney: Second language acquisition, second language teaching and learning, primary language teaching, second language motivation, primary to secondary transition, lexical development, grammatical development (French), development of second language literacy skills, individual differences, English as an Additional Language

Dr Naomi Flynn: Pedagogy for teaching children with EAL; effective teachers of English; policy for teaching English; developing teachers' subject knowledge for teaching English/ EAL through on-line learning spaces; the position of English as a global language.

Professor Suzanne Graham : Second language learner strategies; motivation; second language listening comprehension; second language pedagogy and teacher cognition; transition across different stages of language education

Dr Holly Joseph: Reading development and difficulties; incidental vocabulary acquisition during reading; discourse level processing during reading; skilled adult reading; reading in children with comprehension difficulties, ASD, dyslexia and in children with EAL

Barbara King: MFL education; primary languages; content and language integrated learning (CLIL); learner identity

Dr Daguo Li: Motivation; language learner strategies; second language pedagogy; professional development for second language teachers; international education; intercultural communication

Dr Margaret Perkins: Early literacy; teachers as readers; the use of autobiography in professional development; observing primary literacy

Dr Daisy Powell: Literacy acquisition; in particular the development of word-level reading and spelling skills in typically and atypically developing children. Understanding the link between Rapid Automatised Naming (RAN) and reading development. Reading ability and academic attainment in young adults. The development of number skills

Professor Brian Richards: First and second language acquisition; bilingualism; vocabulary development; language assessment. Currently working on an analysis of the discourse related to 'grammatical correctness' and the debates and controversies arising from this.

Rachel Roberts: Discourse in Education, particularly in ITT; Transition between key stages; the use of Media and Moving Image in the classroom; Expertise in teaching; Observation as part of ITT and CPD in education; Teaching of writing at KS2 and 3.

Dr Alison Silby: Theory and practice of teaching English in primary schools; children's literature: exploring gender and identity; transition in primary education: impact on writing; literacy and inclusion; supporting literacy through primary music education; Qualitative research methodologies.

Stephanie Sharp: Literacy and transition between KS2 & KS3

Professor Rhona Stainthorp: The development of reading and writing including spelling and handwriting; precocious reading ability; children with reading difficulties; effective teaching of reading and writing; Reading ability and academic attainment in young adults

Professor Jeanine Treffers-Daller Vocabulary richness, vocabulary learning and teaching, language and thought or "thinking-for-speaking" in bilinguals and L2-learners, statistical learning.

Lionel Warner: The nature and quality of mentorship to Overseas Trained Teachers; Contemporary plays; Reading aloud in the secondary school

Dr Clare Wright: Multilingual acquisition/education, task-based teaching, individual differences and working memory: particular focus on learning processes involved in building grammatical knowledge and oral fluency for L2 English and L2 Mandarin. Director of Bilingualism Matters @ Reading.


We have links with the Forum for Research in Language and Literacy (FRiLL) based at the Institute of Education, University of London, Bilingualism Matters , and the Special Education Centre at Macquarie University in Australia. Colleagues working in second language work closely with the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL), and the European Association for Second Language Acquisition (EUROSLA), among others,

Alongside the work we do with practitioners in our partnership schools, we have strong links with professional associations such as the Association for Language Learning, the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA), the National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE), the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR), the British Psychological Society (BPS), the Experimental Psychology Society (EPS) and the British Education Research Association (BERA).

We also act as consultants to Government here and overseas about the teaching of language and literacy. For example, our work in the area of phonics has influenced government curriculum policy in England and abroad, as has our research in the teaching of Modern Foreign Languages.

Current and Recent Research Projects

  • Investigating online inference making in children who speak English as an additional language. Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (UoR), 2016, PI: Holly Joseph, £997

  • Private Language Management: Home Literacy Environments for Bilingual Development. Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (UoR), 2014-2015, PI: Xiao Lan Curdt-Christiansen, £765

  • Biliteracy Development: Metalinguistic knowledge and bilingual academic performance Office of Educational Research/MoE (Singapore) grant, 2010-2014, PI: Xiao Lan Curdt-Christiansen, $226,276

  • Professional Development Consortium in Modern Languages. ESRC Follow-on Fund, 2012-2013; PI: Suzanne Graham;

  • Primary Modern Languages: The impact of teaching approaches on attainment and preparedness for secondary school language learning. Nuffield Foundation, 2012-2014; PI: Suzanne Graham;

  • Second language listening comprehension in England: From current practice to improved pedagogy. Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, 2010-2012; PI: Suzanne Graham

  • Autovocab: The analysis of vocabulary and n-grams in the Pearson Test of English Academic. Pearson, 2012-2013. Thinking, Speaking and Gesturing in Two Languages, European Science Foundation (with University of Newcastle), 2012.

  • Lost in Transmission? The role of attrition and input in heritage language development. ESRC seminar series on attrition. Reading, October 2015; PI: Jeanine Treffers-Daller

  • Multilingualism and Multiliteracy: Raising learning outcomes in challenging contexts in primary schools across India ESRC/DFID, 2015; Co-I: Jeanine Treffers-Daller, £650k, pending

  • Developing Crosslinguistic lexical tasks for Malay children, Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (UoR), 2014, PI: Jeanine Treffers-Daller, £1125

  • Development of a Malay-English bilingual vocabulary, Institute of Education (UoR), 2013, PI: Jeanine Treffers-Daller, £800

  • Contribution of vocabulary knowledge to academic achievement among BA-Education students. Institute of Education (UoR), 2012, Jeanine Treffers-Daller, Rhona Stainthorp, Daisy Powell, Debbie Grimmond and Anna Tsakalaki, £900

    Postgraduate research students

    All PhD students have close contact with academic staff members and are invited to participate in group meetings and seminars in the area. Attendance at meetings provides PhD students with a supportive environment in which to discuss their research with more experienced researchers in their field and prepare for conference and seminar presentations.

    Postgraduate research proposals are welcomed in all areas of Language and Literacy research. Detailed information about postgraduate research and how to make an application can be found in the Institute of Education's Postgraduate Research pages.

    Current and recent postgraduate students working in the area include:

    • Selma Ashikuti (Namibia): The enactment of the language-in-education policy in Namibia: The Hegemony of the English Language over Indigenous Languages
    • Suhair Husan M. Alhelfawi (Saudi Arabia): Identifying dyslexia in Arabic speakers
    • Maria Aaron: Bilingual education
    • David Arnold (Japan). L2 listening in the EAP context.
    • Anthony Attwood (UK): Transfer of conceptualization patterns in a bilingual child: The construal of motion events in Spanish and English
    • Onyedikachi Abiodun-Ekus (Nigeria): The literacy experiences of deaf children in Nigeria
    • Denisa Velasquez Flores Balazova (Slovakia): Employers' perceptions of university graduates' communicative competence in the workplace: A case study in Bratislava/Slovakia
    • Heike Bruton (UK). An investigation into the subject of German in UK schools
    • Fang-I Chu (Taiwan). English learning motivation in a Taiwanese university context: A study of its dynamic nature from socio-dynamic perspectives.
    • Emre Debreli (Cyprus): The impact of teacher training programmes on pre-service teachers' beliefs about teaching and learning English in Cyprus
    • Debbie Grimmond (UK): Reading comprehension in secondary school students with diverse language backgrounds
    • Nayr Ibrahim (France): Language, literacy and identity of bilingual primary school children in Paris
    • Tomasz John (Poland): The international student journey: enhancing postgraduate students' experience
    • Barbara King (UK). CLIL and speaking outcomes in MFL lessons in the UK context.
    • Ruth Koro (UK). Rethinking the Foreign Language curriculum through content and language integrated practice.
    • Arjen de Korte (The Netherlands): Teaching English grammar to vocational students in the UK.
    • Sheikha Majid (Malaysia): A Translanguaging Perspective: A Study of Malaysian Teachers' Medium of Instruction in the ESL Classroom
    • Zdislava Şişkova (Czech Republic): Lexical richness and cohesion in essays of Czech learners of English
    • Suttawan Sriwantaneeyakul (Thailand): The development of critical reading in a second language
    • Anna Tsakalaki (Greece): Spelling performance in different orthographies: evidence from typical and poor spellers in England and Greece.
    • Lily Ye (China): Beyond culture shock: understanding the changing experience of Chinese students in the UK
    • Pengchong Zhang (China). Language teaching strategies and lexical acquisition in high school English as a foreign language (EFL) context in China
    • Xiaorang Zhang (China): The impact of residential courses in the UK on the professional development of Chinese teachers of English in the western provinces of China.
    • Yun Wang (China): Individual Differences in Listening Comprehension among Chinese Learners of English

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