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Applied Linguistics and TESOL

Christopher Brumfit famously defined Applied Linguistics as ‘the theoretical and empirical investigation of real-world problems in which language is a central issue’ (1995: 27). Applied Linguists therefore aim to bring together academic expertise with real-world language practices, investigating how language is used, and taught, in the world today, and exploring the different interests and values which underpin these phenomena in our everyday lives.

At Northumbria, whilst much of our research attends to language teaching and learning, we also take in a broader range of applied linguistic topics including discourse analysis and representations of culture, especially in relation to China; the spread of English and Englishes around the world and attitudes to language varieties; educational linguistics and the internationalization of British Higher Education; the links between formulaic language and intonation; and second language acquisition. Thus, in recent years, our research has been published in journals ranging from Language, Culture and Communication to ELT Journal and the International Review of Applied Linguistics, and from the International Journal of Management Education to the Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development.

Northumbria’s applied linguists also retain strong links with the professional (English) language teaching community around the world, aiming to contribute to the on-going dialogue between researchers and practitioners. Northumbria’s Applied Linguistics staff are regularly invited to present their research around the world, in recent years giving keynote lectures in, for example, Argentina, China, Japan, India, Libya, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Spain and Turkey as we explore genuinely applied linguistics understandings insights into real-world problems, and in which professional practice can both inform and draw upon academic understanding.

Alex Leung’s research focuses on second language acquisition (SLA) and applied linguistics. He is especially interested in the study of second language (L2) speech acquisition from both formal-linguistics-based as well as sociolinguistics-based perspective. He is also collaborating on projects that aim to apply SLA research findings in classroom teaching and learning.

Regina Weinert has expertise in second language acquisition and cross-linguistic/intercultural studies, with a focus on syntax, pragmatics and discourse in English and German. She has previously worked on the role of formulaic language and has more recently explored the implications of research into spoken language for the study of L2 learning (García Mayo et al 2013. Contemporary perspectives on second language acquisition. John Benjamins). As a visiting professor at the University of the Basque Country ( in 2009/10 she ran a project into the spoken English of advanced foreign language learners with L1 Basque/Spanish. A resulting corpus will shortly be published in collaboration with colleagues in Belgium as part of the LINDSEI corpus ( Regina has been involved in compiling a number of specialist spoken L1 and L2 corpora. She currently researches mostly L1 language usage, but welcomes applications for PhD projects into L2 topics which focus on linguistic analysis.

Gerald Kelly's research interests centre round pronunciation teaching and phonology generally. He is particularly interested in investigating the role of intonation as an organising principle in linguistic communication, and also looking into links between intonation and formulaic language. Formulaic language and its role in language production and processing is also central to his interest in the wider field of psycholinguistics. Given his background in TESOL, he also retains enthusiasm for and interest in most aspects of teacher training.

Graham Hall's research interests focus on the uncertainties of language teaching and complexity in the L2 classroom. For example, (how) do teachers help or hinder learners, how might we create learning opportunities in the L2 classroom, and what might learners learn as a result? He is particularly interested in classroom-centred research and classroom discourse. He is also interested in finding sustainable ways for teachers (and learners) to develop understandings of what takes place in their own classrooms.

Graham is also interested in Critical Pedagogy and its implications for English language teaching. How appropriate are the issues critical approaches raise in individuals’ professional contexts, and how might the debates and discourses surrounding linguistic imperialism; language and power; ELT methodology, curricula and materials etc be taken forward at the local level? His interests extend to the changing role of English in the world and the debates surrounding the ‘ownership’ of English and World Englishes.

In 2011 and 2013, he received British Council ELT Research Partnership (ELTRP) awards to investigate ‘The use of the learners’ own-language in ELT classrooms’, and ‘The English language needs and priorities of young adults in the EU’, whilst his book, Exploring English Language teaching: language in action (Routledge, 2011) was awarded the 2012 BAAL Book Prize.

He is currently Editor of ELT Journal, having previously edited the journal's Key Concepts feature and been a member of the journal’s Editorial Panel. He has reviewed papers for the Asian Journal of English Language Teaching (AJELT), the Journal of Language and Intercultural Communication, and the International Journal of Management Education .

Brumfit, C. J. (1995). ‘Teacher Professionalism and Research.’ In G. Cook and B. Seidlhofer (eds.) Principle and Practice in Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 27-42.

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