Other group members

Applied Linguistics alumni

Yuko Hayashi

Supervisor: Dr Victoria A. Murphy
Title of doctoral thesis: On the nature of morphological awareness and vocabulary knowledge in school-age English-Japanese bilingual and monolingual children
The study investigates vocabulary knowledge (lexical meanings) and morphological awareness of inflections and derivations in different groups of school-age English- and Japanese-speaking monolingual and bilingual children. It also examines the extent to which English morphological awareness influences/or is influenced by Japanese morphological awareness among the bilingual sample. The findings revealed variability in the ability to recognize and produce lexical meanings and morphemes within the bilingual sample (consecutive versus simultaneous bilinguals) as well as bilingual-monolingual differences. The bilingual data identified a reciprocal nature of morphological transfer (Japanese ó English) only in the group of consecutive bilinguals, whereas an increase in morphological awareness was found to be language-independent for the group of simultaneous bilinguals.

Upon completing my doctorate in September 2012, I worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Language Education and Research Centre at Fukuoka University, Japan (October 2012 – March 2014). I currently hold the title of University Lecturer at the Faculty of Culture and Education at Saga University, Japan (April 2014 – present).

Research interests: I have been working on a two-year funded project on the effects of language-based and working memory training on the development of cognitive ability and foreign language proficiency (JSPS KAKENHI Grant No. 25780535) (April 2013 – present).

I have also published papers on topics including morphological awareness, remedial education and CALL (Computer-Assisted Language Learning).

Nahal Khabbazbashi

Supervisor: Dr. Robert Vanderplank
Title of doctoral thesis: An investigation into the effects of topic and background knowledge of topic on second language speaking performance assessment in language proficiency interviews.

The study focuses on the effects of the two variables of task topic and background knowledge of topic on second language speaking performance in language proficiency interviews. The study used a parallel forms reliability design where different topics were administered to 82 candidates. Performances were scored by raters and questionnaires were used to establish levels of background knowledge. Language proficiency was controlled for using C-tests. Multi-Faceted Rasch Measurement was used for the analysis of score data with persons, raters, topics and background knowledge as the different facets. The study’s main finding showed that while differences in topic difficulties and levels of background knowledge posed statistically distinct effects on performance, the size of the effects was too small to have a large practical impact on scores.

Current position: Senior Research and Validation Manager at Cambridge English Language Assessment, involved in research projects related to the assessment of language for specific purposes , impact studies and automated assessment of speaking.

Jang Ho Lee
Supervisor: Professor Ernesto Macaro
Title of doctoral thesis: The differential effects of teacher code-switching on the vocabulary acquisition of adult and young EFL learners: a study in the Korean context.

My research interest is in the broad area of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and English Teaching in Asian contexts, which includes teachers’ codeswitching in English classrooms and learners’ attitudes towards teachers’ instruction. I have also been working on issues such as the uses of electronic glossing and concordance applications in hypermedia environments to enhance learners’ vocabulary acquisition. I have published in journals such as Modern Language Journal, TESOL Quarterly, Language Learning & Technology, English Teaching: Practice & Critique, among others.

  • 2012 Assistant Professor, Department of English, Korea Military Academy, South Korea.
  • 2014 Assistant Professor, Department of English Education, Chung-Ang University, South Korea.

Yuen Yi Lo
Supervisors: Dr Victoria Murphy (MSc), Professor Ernesto Macaro (DPhil)
Title of doctoral thesis: What happens to classroom interaction patterns and teachers’ code-switching behaviour when the medium of instruction changes? An exploratory study in Hong Kong secondary schools.

I am interested in content-based instruction and medium of instruction (MoI) policy, I investigated a special type of secondary schools in Hong Kong, “MoI-switching schools”, which used Chinese (L1) as the MoI from Grade 7 to Grade 9, but then switched to English (L2) from Grade 10 onwards. By comparing the classroom discourse in Grade 9 lessons with those in Grade 10 lessons, this study reveals the potential effects of MoI on teacher-student interaction, which would in turn affect students’ learning outcomes. This study also has implications for teacher education in content-based instruction, a popular bilingual programme around the world.

I am currently working as an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Education, the University of Hong Kong. My research interests include bilingual education, Medium of Instruction policy and code-switching. In recent years, I have been investigating how to enhance the teaching and learning effectiveness in content and language integrated learning/ EMI education through cross-curricular collaboration and Language Across the Curriculum.

Mairéad McKendry
Supervisor: Dr Victoria Murphy
Title of doctoral thesis: Investigating the relationship between reading comprehension and semantic skill in children with English as an Additional Language: a focus on idiom comprehension

Study summary:
The participants in this study were 9-10 year old children attending UK primary schools.  The study’s main findings are as follows:

  • Not all UK EAL children struggle with reading comprehension.  For those who do, a lack of L2 proficiency is likely to be a contributing factor.
  • Even UK EAL children who excel in reading comprehension differ from their comprehension-matched EL1 peers on measures of expressive vocabulary breadth and depth.
  • It is particularly important to develop the vocabulary abilities of EAL children, as the relationships between word-level semantic skills and sentence/discourse level semantic skills are stronger for EAL children than for their EL1 peers.
  • For EAL children, the relationships between reading comprehension and i. prior knowledge of English language idioms; ii. semantic analysis; iii. inference from context, are stronger than for EL1 children, suggesting the importance of a comprehensive approach to the semantic development of EAL children.

Current activities:
I am currently training to be a teacher at Oxford University’s Department of Education and will take up a full-time position as teacher of English at a comprehensive Secondary school in East Oxfordshire in September 2014.

Sara Smith
Supervisor: Dr. Victoria Murphy
Title of doctoral thesis: The nature of multi-word vocabulary among children with English as a first or additional language and its relationship with reading comprehension.

Sara A. Smith received her B.A. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2007 and her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 2013, followed by a post-doctoral research position at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the Brain Experience Education Lab. She also worked in the Gaab Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. In 2014, she joined the Human Development Department at California State University East Bay as Assistant Professor of Cognitive and Language Development. Her research focuses on the developmental trajectories of learners from diverse linguistic backgrounds. Sara is also interested in early childhood issues of bilingual learners with language-based learning disabilities.

Lili Tian
Supervisor: Professor Ernesto Macaro
Title of doctoral thesis: Teacher codeswitching in a communicative EFL context: measuring the effects on vocabulary learning.

Research summary: This study is focused on exploring the possible impact of the teacher’s use of codeswitching on learners’ second language vocabulary learning and judicious use of the mother tongue in second language classroom. It attempts to fill the research gap by examining the role of codeswitching in vocabulary learning when learners are presented with listening materials and encouraged to interact with the teacher and negotiate meaning of the listening materials and new vocabulary without disrupting the communicative orientation of the lessons.

Current status: Lili is currently an Associate Professor in School of Foreign Languages at Renmin University of China. Her research interests mainly lie in codeswitching, vocabulary learning, second language oral production, and so on.

Maria Vrikki
Supervisor: Professor Ernesto Macaro
Title of doctoral thesis:Investigating the impact of learner codeswitching on L2 oral fluency in task-based activities: The case of EFL primary school classrooms in Cyprus.

Doctoral research: For my DPhil work, I conducted a quasi-experimental study which aimed to determine whether learner codeswitching during task completion in EFL classrooms could lead to the development of second language oral fluency through a language recycling process. Three primary schools in Nicosia, Cyprus, acted as three different groups of the experiment: a Codeswitching group, an English-only group, and a Comparison group. Oral production tests, which acted as pre- and post-tests, were analysed quantitatively in terms of fluency, accuracy and content.

Current position: I am currently working as a Research Associate at the Faculty of Education of the University of Cambridge. I primarily work for the ‘Teacher Learning and Lesson Study’ project which investigates how and what teachers learn in the context of the development of a self-sustained Lesson Study community of teachers and Lead Mathematics Practitioners in the London Borough of Camden. As part of a research team, I carry out detailed analysis of teacher talk in Lesson Study and develop measurement instruments to identify teacher learning patterns and teacher learning outcomes. I also work for the CamTalk project which investigates the role of dialogic teaching and learning in secondary classrooms.