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Languages and applied linguistics

Our researchers view language as a social and cultural phenomenon and a powerful resource for learning across the lifespan. Our research projects reflect that perspective, and encompass all areas of Modern Languages, English Language Studies and Applied Linguistics.

Creating Facebook: the management of conflict and the pursuit of online conviviality

The project investigates people’s awareness of how communication via Facebook works, and the social implications of their communication. This includes the way that information and opinions are circulated, and how people react to them.

Developing online teaching skills

Developing Online Teaching Skills (DOTS)

This training kit presents bite-size activities for ten popular tools that even the busiest language professional can fit into their schedule. Working through training units which can be completed in around 30 minutes, teachers will get to know the uses and pedagogic benefits of online tools and learn how to integrate them into their language classes.


Digital Literacies in Higher Education (DigitaLits)

This research project sets out to examine the real nature of digital literacies for today’s undergraduates. These students are often referred to as ‘digital natives’, spending time text messaging, chatting online, surfing the net and using social networking sites like Facebook.

Stack of books (top one open) in a library

Discourse of reading groups

Reading plays an important part in many people’s lives - it has sometimes been termed ‘a tool for living’. And reading is not simply a private matter: people have always discussed, debated and argued about their reading, and contemporary reading groups can provide an excellent forum for critical debate. The research has tried to find out more about this, focussing on the reading choices of a diverse range of reading groups in Britain.

African landscape

Empathy Dynamics in Conflict Transformation (EDiCT)

The EDiCT Manual applies contemporary empathy research to real world conflict situations. It offers ideas for practitioners in conflict transformation, and for anyone dealing with conflict in everyday life.

English Language Teaching in International Development

Research at the Open University has begun to explore the relationship between English language skills and personal and national development. While we are starting to gain a picture of the relationship between English language learning and economic value, this relationship is complex and different for each context, and thus requires new, nuanced means of investigation.


ExplOERer: Supporting OER reuse in learning ecosystems

The project adopts a cross-sectorial approach by involving six European partners: three Higher Education Institutions, a Ministry of Education supporting a large OER repository, a private company specialising in OER and social networking/gaming, and a non-profit organisation leading the field in open licensing and open education.

Learning English for economic development?

This project is investigating the relationship between (English) language learning and economic development by looking at the case of workers from rural Bangladesh who emigrate to the Middle East and Southeast Asia in search of employment opportunities.

Living with uncertainty

Increasingly mobile and transient societies present increasing needs for people to understand others who they may find, not only very different from themselves, but also holding attitudes and beliefs which may be difficult to accept.


MOVE-ME: MOOCs for university students on the move in Europe

The main objective of the project is to facilitate the integration of students in academic mobility enhancing their ability to function in academic and specialized contexts and developing their ability of learning to learn.

Open World Research Initiative (OWRI)

The part of the project that is led by the Open University is called ‘Diasporic identities and the politics of language teaching’. It aims to investigate the role of modern language teachers in a changing linguistic, social, and cultural landscape.

Professional Academic Writing in a Global Context

The writing practices of the wider research community are examined through the ‘Professional Academic Writing in a Global Context’ project. This includes a longitudinal ethnographic study of the politics and practices of writing for publication.

Teaching Grammar / Testing Grammar in the Primary School

An investigation into the professional and pedagogic impact of the statutory grammar test in primary schools.

Writing in professional social work practice in a changing communicative landscape (WiSP)

The production and use of written texts (often referred to as paperwork, recording, inputting or documenting) is a high stakes activity in professional social work, playing a central role in all decisions about services for people and at the same time used to evaluate social workers’ professional competence. To date, little empirical research has been carried out on the nature of contemporary social work writing.