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Department of Education

Paul Meara

Honorary Research Fellow

Paul Meara was a founder member of the Department of Applied Linguistics at Birkbeck College, London University, where he worked from 1973-1990.

In 1990 he moved to Swansea University, where he set up an innovative distance learning PhD program specialising in L2 vocabulary research. He retired from Swansea in 2009.

Paul is an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Within the department, he works with Prof Victoria Murphy to develop research training for post graduate students.


Paul’s current research is mainly concerned with developing computational models of how people acquire words and how they lose their lexical skills as they grow older. He is particularly interested in the emergent properties of lexical models with minimal assumptions.

He runs a number of small projects that apply bibliometric methods to the corpus of research in applied linguistics. These projects are mainly concerned with evaluating the main historical trends in applied linguistics research, and with identifying new research fronts at an early stage.

Paul also works with colleagues in Cardiff and Swansea to develop research resources for the Welsh Government’s Welsh for Adults programme. This work is currently focussed on establishing a graded word list for Welsh L2 speakers.

Some recent publications
  • Meara, P. M. and Morris, S. (2014) Welsh words: Core vocabulary and phrases. Talybont, Y Lolfa.
  • Meara, P. M. (2014) ‘Vocabulary Research in The Modern Language Journal: A Bibliometric Analysis.’ Vocabulary Learning and Instruction, 3(1), 1-28.
  • Meara, P.M. (2014) ‘Life before Nation: Bibliometrics and L2 vocabulary studies in 1982’. In: The Functional Perspective on Language and Discourse: Applications and Implications, 247, 111.
  • Meara, P. M. (2011) ‘Translating Lorca : A graph theory approach. Sociolinguistic Studies, 4(3), 615-633.
  • Meara, P. M. (2011) ‘Gossamer or Bindweed?: Association links between common words.’ EuroSLA YearBook, 11(1), 94-114.
  • Meara, P. M. (2010) ‘The bibliometrics of vocabulary acquisition: An exploratory study.’ RELC Journal, 43 (1), 7-22.
  • Meara, P. M. and Olmos-Alcoy, J. C. (2010) ‘Words as species: An alternative approach to estimating productive vocabulary size.’ Reading in a Foreign Language, 22 (1): 222-236.
  • Meara, P. M. (2009) Connected words: Word associations and second language vocabulary acquisition. Amsterdam, Benjamins.
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