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Prior to coming to the Department of Education Oxford, Liz held positions as an Associate Professor in the Division of Language Sciences at UCL and an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Warwick.

She was previously at Oxford as a Junior Research Fellow housed in the Department of Experimental Psychology and Linacre College. Her degrees are in Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence (University of Edinburgh;  MA Hons) and Brain and Cognitive Sciences (University of Rochester, USA; MSc & PhD). Between her degrees, she worked briefly as Teacher of English to students of other languages.

Broadly speaking, Liz is interested in human language learning. Her research explores the extent to which this rests on input-driven, statistical learning processes, both in the context of learning a first native language, and in learning further languages in later childhood or adulthood. She is interested in learning that occurs both in naturalistic contexts and in input-limited contexts (such as the classroom), as well in the educational implications of statistical learning approaches for modern foreign language instruction. She also has an interest in the development of literacy and in language processing.

From a theoretical perspective, Liz has recently become interested in whether human language may be understood in terms of discriminative learning — a well-understood theory of learning developed in the study of animal learning. This work is funded by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust.

See also

  • Dong H, Clayards M, Brown H, Wonnacott E. 2019. The effects of high versus low talker variability and
    individual aptitude on phonetic training of Mandarin lexical tones. PeerJ 7:e7191
  • Sinkeviciute, R., Brown, H., Brekelmans, G., & Wonnacott, E. (2019) The role of input variability and learner
    age in second language vocabulary learning. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 1-26.
  • Samara, A., Singh, D., & Wonnacott, E. (2018) Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental
    learning experiment with children. Cognition, 182, 25-30. DOI 10.1016
  • Amridge, B., Barak, L., Wonnacott, E., Bannard, C., & Sala, G. (2018) Effects of Both Preemption and Entrenchment in the Retreat from Verb Overgeneralization Errors: Four Reanalyses, an Extended Replication, and a Meta-Analytic Synthesis. Collabra: Psychology, 4(1), 23.
  • Giannakopoulou, A., Brown, H., Clayards, M., & Wonnacott, E. (2017) High or Low? Comparing high and low-variability phonetic training in adult and child second language learners. PeerJ 5:e3209; DOI 10.7717/peerj.3209
  • Wonnacott, E., Brown, H., & Nation, K. (2017) Skewing the evidence: The effect of input structure on child
    and adult learning of lexically-based patterns in an artificial language. Journal of Memory and Language, 95, 46-48. 10.1016/j.jml.2017.01.005 Rcode data
  • Samara, A. Smith, K., Brown, H., & Wonnacott, E. (2017) Acquiring variation in an artificial language:
    children and adults are sensitive to socially-conditioned linguistic variation. Cognitive Psychology, 94, 85-114
  • Smith, K., Perfors, A., Fehér, O., Samara, A., Swoboda, K., & Wonnacott, E. (2017) Language learning,
    language use and the evolution of linguistic variation. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 372(1711), 20160051.
  • Fehér, O., Wonnacott, E., & Smith, K. (2016) Structural priming in artificial languages and the regularisation
    of unpredictable variation. Journal of Memory and Language. 91, 158–180.
  • Wonnacott, E., Joseph, H. S. S. L., Adelman, J. S. and Nation, K. (2016) Is children’s reading “good
    enough”? Links between online processing and comprehension as children read syntactically ambiguous sentences. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69 (5). Pp. 855-879.
  • Joseph, H. S., Wonnacott, E., Forbes, P., & Nation, K. (2014) Becoming a written word: Eye movements
    reveal order of acquisition effects following incidental exposure to new words during silent reading. Cognition, 133(1), 238-248.
  • Wonnacott, E. (2013) Statistical Mechanisms in Language Acquisition. In P. Binder & K. Smith (eds.). The
    Language Phenomenon, Springer.
  • Wonnacott, E., Boyd, J.K, Thomson. J.J., & Goldberg, A.E. (2012) Input effects on the acquisition of a
    novel phrasal construction in 5 year olds. Journal of Memory and Language, 66, 458-478.
  • Wonnacott, E. (2011) Balancing generalization and lexical conservatism: An artificial language study with
    child learners. Journal of Memory and Language, 65, 1-14.
  • Perfors, A. & Wonnacott, E. (2011) Bayesian modelling of sources of constraint in language acquisition. In:
    Arnon, Inbal and Clarke, Eve V., (eds.) Experience, variation and generalization : learning a first language. Amsterdam ; Philadelphia: John Benjamins , pp. 277-294
  • Smith, K., & Wonnacott, E. (2010) Eliminating unpredictable variation through iterated learning. Cognition,
    116, 444-449.
  • Perfors, A., Tenenbaum, J.B., & Wonnacott, E. (2010) Variability, negative evidence, and the acquisition of
    verb argument constructions. Journal of Child Language, 37, 607-642.
  • Wonnacott, E., Newport, E.L., & Tanenhaus, M.K. (2008) Acquiring and processing verb argument
    structure: Distributional learning in a miniature language. Cognitive Psychology, 56, 165-209.
  • Wonnacott, E., & Watson, G. (2008) Acoustic emphasis in four year olds. Cognition, 107, 1093-101.

Mark teaches the English Language Teaching module on the MSc course in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition (ALSLA). It is a 2-term optional module for both experienced and less experienced teachers of English with the opportunity to put theory into practice.

Mark has worked in ELT for over thirty years and has been a teacher, course writer, director of studies, examiner, materials writer and an academic consultant to OUP.

For the University of Oxford, Mark is also a teaching associate of the EMI Research Group. In this capacity he has designed and delivered several EMI courses in the Department of Education at Oxford University as well as in China and Serbia.

Mark also works as a consultant trainer and course writer for the British Council and has designed and delivered EAP and EMI teacher training courses at universities in Brazil, Peru, Chile, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Germany, Austria, Czechia and Italy.

Mark is an alumnus of the University of Oxford, Department of Education and was among the first to be awarded the innovative MSc. in Teaching English in University Settings.

Ernesto Macaro is Emeritus Professor of Applied Linguistics and a Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College, University of Oxford.

He is the founding Director of the Centre for Research and Development in English Medium Instruction (EMI) in the department. He was also the Director of the Department from 2013 to 2016.

Before becoming a teacher educator and researcher Ernesto was a language teacher in secondary schools in the UK for 16 years during which time he obtained an MA at the University of Warwick. He then obtained a PhD from the University of Reading whilst teaching on that institution’s PGCE course. He joined the Department of Education at Oxford in 1999 and soon after introduced the area of Applied Linguistics by designing the Masters in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition.

Ernesto’s current research focuses on second language learning strategies and on the interaction between teachers and learners in second language classrooms and in those where English is the medium of instruction. He has published widely in these areas.

Ernesto is currently supervising doctoral students researching the following topics:

• English Medium Instruction in Turkish Higher Education
• The interaction in science lessons where English is the Medium of Instruction
• The vocabulary learning strategies of students in English Medium Instruction classes

Ernesto continues to be highly research active and is frequently called upon to give keynotes, plenary lectures and workshops in many parts of the world as well as providing consultancies on language policy.

Current or recent research projects

The effects of teacher codeswitching on acquisition of second language vocabulary

Using listening comprehension texts as the tasks around which the intervention took place, year 9 students were taught vocabulary by either being provided with target language information or via first language information. We measured pre- post and delayed tests.
Funding Body: ESRC

EMI in Turkey: A collaborative experiment

The research investigated the extent to which it is feasible and beneficial for English language specialists in Turkish universities to collaborate with academic subject specialists teaching through the medium of English in the preparation and delivery of content lessons or lectures.
Funding body: part funded by Oxford University Press

Decoding French, Motivation and Foreign Language Learning

This study involved an England-wide survey of Key Stage 3 learners of French in comprehensive schools which elicited respondents’ mastery and perceptions of decoding French (from the written form to the spoken form) and correlated these results with the same learners’ self-reports on their self-efficacy in French, their attributions of success and failure in French and their motivation to continue learning it.
Funding Body: ESRC

The certification of EMI teachers in Higher Education

The study sought to establish the feasibility of certifying the teaching competence of teachers teaching academic subjects through the medium of English in non-anglophone contexts. Specifically it investigated teacher attitudes towards the kinds of competencies needed and whether it was possible and/or beneficial for the certification to be awarded at an institutional, national, or international level.
Funding Body: Fell Fund (University of Oxford)

Transition from secondary CLIL to tertiary EMI in Italy

The research investigates the challenges faced by students transitioning from the upper secondary school CLIL classroom to EMI in Universities. Specifically it measures the lexical knowledge needed to adequately understand lectures in the L2 (English) and the strategies that students might use to compensate for lexical deficiencies.
Funding Body: The British Council

Hamish is the Course Director of the MSc Applied Linguistics & Second Language Acquisition (ALSLA). He lectures and supervises on the MSc Applied Linguistics & Second Language Acquisition (ALSLA) and the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT).

Hamish convenes the Applied Linguistics Seminar Series in the department. He is Vice-Chair of the National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum (NALDIC). He is editor of NALDIC’s blog, and associate editor of the EAL Journal, NALDIC’s professional periodical. He is on the advisory panel for Assessing Claims in Education project in collaboration with the Education Endowment Foundation and the Chartered College of Teaching.

Hamish’s research interest centres on evaluation of pedagogical approaches to teaching children who use English as an Additional Language (EAL). In particular, his research focuses on the use of the first language as a pedagogical tool for multilingual learners in English medium classrooms. His methodological interest is in randomised trials and systematic reviews.


Chalmers, H. (2019). The Role of the first language in English Medium Instruction. OUP ELT Position Paper.

Chalmers H (in preparation). First language-mediated strategies for improving linguistic proficiency and academic attainment for bilingual children aged 4-11 in non-bilingual schools: a systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews.

Chalmers H (2017). What does research tell us about using the first language as a pedagogical tool? EAL Journal. Summer, 54-58.

Chalmers H (2016). How to … inspire EAL students. Times Educational Supplement. 20 November, 42-43.

Chalmers H (2014). Harnessing linguistic diversity in polylingual British curriculum schools. Do L1 mediated home learning tasks improve learning outcomes for bilingual children? A randomised trial. Masters Dissertation. Published online by the British Council.

Chalmers H (1999). Did Microsoft commission a fair test of the geographical knowledge of British children? TERSE Report. Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, Durham University.

Laura specialises in modern languages teacher education.

Before working with the department, she taught French and German in state secondary schools in Oxfordshire. She became interested in teacher education whilst mentoring beginning languages teachers during their school placements.

Laura is the subject lead for the PGCE in modern languages and she also supervises higher degrees in the fields of instructed second language learning and language teacher education. Her recent research has focussed on: the use of the target language for instruction; explicit teaching of language learning strategies; students’ motivation for learning languages other than English; languages teachers’ professional learning needs and experiences; and formative language teacher evaluation.

In this project, I have investigated how 16 – 17-year-old students enrolled in the obligatory subject social studies in Norwegian Upper Secondary school perceive and relate to the concepts of ‘democracy’ and ‘politics’, and how they view the role of social studies in terms of preparing them for citizenship. This is a mixed methods study, utilising individual and group interviews, as well as a quantitative survey.

In this presentation, I will focus on the second sub-study, namely students’ perceptions of the concept of politics and their conceptions of the relationship between people and politics. This study has implications for citizenship education, particularly in view of research from the UK and other Western democracies raising concern about young people’s levels of political interest and participation.


After obtaining a degree and PhD in chemistry at the University of Birmingham, Ann Childs taught science in secondary schools in the UK and West Africa for eleven years, seven of these as a head of chemistry and head of science.

Since 1995 she has been involved in science teacher education at Oxford University where she is a fellow of Lady Margaret Hall.

Ann would welcome informal contacts from prospective doctoral students interested in the following topics:

  • Explaining science/chemistry in secondary science classrooms – what makes an effective explanation?
  • Interaction between teachers and students in second language classrooms in science where English is the medium of instruction
  • Developing teacher education in science of both pre and in-service science teachers
  • Educating the teacher educators – what is the knowledge base of a teacher educator in mathematics and science?

Convener: Anne Watson
Speaker: Professor John Mason Open University and University of Oxford

The conjecture is put forward that theories in mathematics education consist of collections of frames or frameworks, which themselves consist of labels for distinctions. Alongside these distinctions there are assumptions and values which, combined with the distinctions, suggest actions which might be taken.

Convener: John Furlong
Speakers: Geoff Whitty Institute of Education, University of London and Tim Brighouse previously Schools Commissioner for London.
This Seminar is the second in the Cities Seminar Series on Educational Improvement and Equity.
The seminar will be preceded by tea at 4.30 and followed by a drinks reception at 6.30.
Further information: Will Baker

Geoff Whitty and Tim Brighouse will draw on evidence from London and other cities including Hull and Bristol to consider if there are any essential ingredients that will ensure that more children enjoy more success in city schooling systems: they will reflect on the impact of various initiatives such as City Challenges in this country and comparable efforts internationally. They will conclude by drawing out some lessons for the future.

Geoff Whitty is Director of the Institute of Education and Professor of Education, University of London. His main areas of research and scholarship are the sociology of the school curriculum, education policy and teacher education. He has directed ESRC-funded research projects on the impact of education policies, such as the assisted places scheme, city technology colleges, Education Action Zones, and changes in initial teacher education. His most recent research includes a study of school councils for the Department for Children, Schools and Families and a series of projects on school-university links for the Sutton Trust.

Professor Sir Tim Brighouse has spent his entire career working in education. Most recently he has served as London Schools Commissioner, working to improve education in the capital. Before that his career started in the classroom and has taken in the role or Professor of Education at Keele University, as well as Chief Education Officer in both Oxfordshire and Birmingham Local Authorities.