Robert is Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics and lead tutor for the Modern Languages PGCE course. His main research interests centre on instructed foreign language learning and teaching, particularly in school settings. He is interested in particular in the development of reading skills and strategies, the role of phonology in reading and the teaching of phonics. He is passionate about building stronger links between research and classroom practice, and is a team member of the NCELP (National Centre for Excellence for Language Pedagogy).
Robert teaches and supervises on the PGCE, MSc ALSLA, MSc ALLT, Masters in Learning and Teaching and doctoral programmes. He is a member of the Applied Linguistics, Teaching and Teacher Education and Subject Pedagogy research groups.
Robert obtained an Honours degree in Modern Languages (French and German), an MPhil in General Linguistics and Comparative Philology, an MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition, an MSc in Educational Research Methods and a DPhil in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford. After completing a PGCE in Modern Languages at the University of Sheffield in 1998, he worked as a secondary school teacher of French, German and Outdoor Education before joining the department in 2007.
Robert would particularly welcome doctoral applications from students interested in the following topics:
- The learning and teaching of foreign languages in instructed settings, particularly in respect of reading skills and strategies, phonology and motivation.
- Teaching phonics in a foreign language context
- The development of second language (L2) phonological decoding (print-to-sound conversion) in learners of a range of different L2s and with a range of L1 backgrounds
- The impact of L2 phonological decoding on other aspects of L2 learning, such as vocabulary acquisition, reading comprehension, motivation, listening comprehension and speaking.
- The learning and teaching of Chinese as a Foreign Language