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Language and Literacy

This area of the Professional Doctorate programme embraces research projects that explore texts, discourses or practices in connection with child or adult language learning and teaching in formal or informal physical or virtual contexts in any global location, including schools, colleges, universities, workplaces, and home, community or online settings. It encompasses a number of broad themes, which are described in more detail below. Proposals are nevertheless welcome for studies that fall outside these themes.

1.  Talk and the processes of teaching and learning

This theme explores the nature of talk in educational setting – e.g. supporting learners in multilingual contexts; the uses of English for education in multilingual environments; issues in the assessment of oral language; gender and language in educational settings etc.

2.  Discourse and genre

This theme is concerned with discourse and identity in educational contexts – e.g. competing discourses in educational contexts; genres in different disciplinary areas; discourses about standard and non-standard language; discourses underpinning teaching approaches and teaching materials etc.

3.  The nature and purposes of texts

The focus here is on the analysis of oral, written or multimodal texts, as produced by learners, teachers or instructional designers – e.g. issues related to the production, dissemination and interpretation of particular texts; the assessment of student speaking and writing etc.

4.  Language and literacy practices

This theme refers to the uses and meanings of speech and writing in educational institutions, homes and communities – e.g. contrasts between learners’ language and literacy practices inside and outside school; learners’ multilingual language and literacy practices and their implications for education (c.f. translanguaging); online, text and social media-focused literacies.

5.  Multimodal communication

This theme focuses on the use of different semiotic modes – words, images, sound effects, moving images, colour and embraces the creation of meaning in connection with specific areas and text types, online and offline.

6.  Language and literacy policies in education

This theme is concerned with language and literacy policies (among these: mother tongue-based initiatives, minority language maintenance, English medium instruction - EMI, Content and language integrated learning – CLIL) in multilingual educational contexts and embraces their interpretation, implementation and adaptation at national, regional and institutional levels.

7.  Open, distance, blended, and online language learning and teaching

This theme embraces examples of open, distance, blended and online forms of language learning and teaching, as deployed in specific contexts – e.g. the effective use of different ‘blends’ of components; the impact of such programmes on learner and teacher motivation etc.

8.  Language learning and e-literacies in multimodal online environments

Here the focus is on ways in which the affordances of online synchronous and real-time tools for communication influence or shape learning, teaching and interaction – e.g. the impact of these tools on task design; associated forms of learner and teacher training and support etc.

9.  Language learning strategies and individual learner variation

This theme focuses on the relationship between individual learner characteristics, contexts, learning purpose, self-management, awareness in respect of different strategy ‘training’ and its impact on specific aspects of language learning.

10.  Language and intercultural competence

This theme is concerned with the development of intercultural competence among language learners in a variety of settings – e.g. how it is acquired and might be measured; how the various frameworks and theories of intercultural competence are put into practice by teachers, in textbooks or in other educational materials etc.

We are also able to offer supervision in studies exploring the application of learning theories to language learning; aspects of second language acquisition; learner autonomy and motivation; and language teacher development.

Examples of successful EdD theses

  • Perspectives on literacy: a critical investigation of primary teachers’ understanding of the concept of ‘literacy’.
  • The role of metaphor in facilitating mathematical learning in the secondary classroom.
  • Speaking the subject: a discourse analysis of undergraduate student seminar practice
  • 'Professional conversations': spaces for learning?
  • The influence of teaching strategies and behaviours in the EFL classroom on student motivation and anxiety.
  • Teachers' practices through adaption of open educational resources for online language teaching.
  • CLIL at the tertiary level in Italy: institutional context, input and the views of students and lecturers.