Athina is a Research Officer working on TalkTogether: Supporting Oral Language Development.
The project investigates children’s oral language in multilingual urban poor contexts, with an aim to develop and evaluate an intervention programme for kindergarten classes. TalkTogether is an international collaboration led by Prof. Sonali Nag and involves academic and non-academic partners in India.
Athina completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge being awarded a PhD Studentship from the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics. Before her PhD, Athina obtained a MA in Linguistics from the Radboud University Nijmegen, in the Netherlands. During her MA studies, she did an internship at the University of Amsterdam where she was involved in testing bilingual children and used the data to write her MA thesis on the occurrence of cross-linguistic influence in the acquisition of grammatical gender by Greek-Dutch bilingual children. She also worked as a student assistant for three months at the Center for Language and Speech Technology of the Radboud University of Nijmegen with her task being the preparation of a literature overview of the indicators investigated and reported in the literature to predict L2 oral proficiency, as well as, a review of the systems (manual and automatic) used to evaluate speaking proficiency. She holds a BA in Greek Philology from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. During her BA, she also spent an academic year at the University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain as a student being awarded an Erasmus scholarship. Finally, she has a CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and has some teaching experience with children and adults in various settings (immigrant populations, undergraduates, foreign and repatriated students).
In her previous research, she investigated age (of onset) and first language effects on the acquisition of English grammar (focusing on finiteness) by Chinese and Russian child learners in a minimal input EFL (English as a Foreign Language) context. During her current role, she is involved in various research projects within TalkTogether all focusing on shedding light on child oral language development of (Kannada-speaking) children and/or aiming to support their oral language development through interventions.
Her research interests involve child (second) language acquisition with a particular interest in the development of morphosyntax, the factors both linguistic and contextual that shape it, and the support of oral language development through classroom interventions to help children be ‘readier’ for literacy and school.
- ‘Age in child L2 acquisition: The case of finiteness’ (In collaboration with Theodora Alexopoulou, Henriette Hendriks, Ianthi Maria Tsimpli, University of Cambridge). Paper presented at the EuroSLA 28 conference, Munster, Germany, September 5-8, 2018.
- ‘The acquisition of finiteness in English by Chinese and Russian speaking children: the impact of age’ (In collaboration with Theodora Alexopoulou, Henriette Hendriks, Ianthi Maria Tsimpli, University of Cambridge). Paper presented at the workshop: ‘Age effects in bilingual language acquisition’ in Poznan, Poland, March 7-8, 2019.
- ‘The acquisition of finiteness in English by Chinese and Russian speaking children: the impact of L1 (In collaboration with Theodora Alexopoulou, Henriette Hendriks, Ianthi Maria Tsimpli, University of Cambridge). Paper presented at the workshop: ‘Tenselessness II’ in Lisbon, Portugal, October 3-4, 2019.
- Age in child L2 acquisition: The case of finiteness (In collaboration with Theodora Alexopoulou, Henriette Hendriks, Ianthi Maria Tsimpli, University of Cambridge). Poster presented at the Lead summer school for L2 acquisition, University of Tübingen, Germany, July 23-27, 2018.
- Age in child L2 acquisition: The case of finiteness (In collaboration with Theodora Alexopoulou, Henriette Hendriks, Ianthi Maria Tsimpli, University of Cambridge). Poster presented at the School on Experimental and Corpus Linguistics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, September 25-27, 2018.
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.
Before working with the department, Laura taught French and German at secondary school level. She became interested in teacher education whilst mentoring beginning languages teachers during their school placements. Her doctoral research focussed on in-service languages teachers’ professional learning experiences and needs.
Laura is currently working on a project to compare the nature of instructed second/foreign language learning at secondary school in England, Norway and France.
Before joining the DPhil program, Johannes obtained a B.Ed. in English and German Language Studies from Tübingen University, Germany, and an M.Sc. in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition from the University of Oxford (Distinction). During his undergraduate studies, he spent a year at the University of Cambridge where he read Linguistics and Modern and Medieval Languages. Johannes has worked as a research assistant for several linguists in Tübingen, where he also taught introductory courses in theoretical linguistics.
Johannes’ research focuses on the role of multi-word units in primary school foreign language learning contexts both from a psycholinguistic and a pedagogical angle. His work is funded by the Department of Education.
Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.
He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).
His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.
Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.
For further information, please click here.
Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.
Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.
Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.
Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.
Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.
Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.
Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.
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 https://languagelearninglab-ox.com/
- 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 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.7191
- 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,
- 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.
Naosuke is a DPhil student whose research interests are Global Englishes and mutual intelligibility in English communication.
Naosuke finished an MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition at the University of Oxford with distinction in 2019. His DPhil research focuses on the intelligibility of non-native English speakers. Specifically, he would like to seek what kind of English pronunciation features are critical for successful English communication between non-native English speakers.
Darshini Nadarajan is a doctoral student whose research is centrally concerned with unpacking the notion of what it means to be a ‘proficient’ English language teacher in Malaysia and consequently, the discourses, practices, and identities that manifest from aspiring to be ‘proficient’.
Drawing upon epistemologies of the South and situating her study within the dynamism of education as a performative practice, her research is informed by sociological, linguistics, and anthropological lenses that aim to decolonise and indigenise knowledge along with developing theorisations that are aligned with such worldviews. Animating her research is a persistent curiosity in exploring the power and politics of education. In particular, her research dwells on scholarship that interrogates and problematises the production of knowledge and power within the intersection of gender, race and class
Darshini’s research interests are influenced by her rich and diverse educational experiences from the East and the West. Prior to coming to Oxford, she was a teacher educator for the Ministry of Education Malaysia where she trained in-service English language teachers, designed and developed face-to-face and blended language courses, edited policy blueprints, as well as wrote speeches for Ministers. Darshini graduated from Macquarie University, Australia with a B.Ed TESOL and was subsequently awarded a Fulbright scholarship where she majored in Creative Writing and American Literature at Michigan State University. She then read her Masters in both TESOL from the University of Nottingham; and Educational Leadership and Management from the National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan.
Selected Conference Presentations
Darshini, N. (2019). Translingual Tensions in In-Service Teacher Education in Malaysia. Paper presented at the English Teaching & Learning International Conference, Taiwan, 27-28 July.
Darshini, N. (2018). Portraits of Cinderellas: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Exploration of Identity and English Language Learning of Foreign Domestic Workers in Malaysia. Paper presented at the International Conference on TEFL and Applied Linguistics, Taiwan, 16-17 March.
Darshini, N. (2017). Hide! There’s a Zombie in School: Students’ Perceptions of Institutional Rules in an Urban Malaysian School. Paper presented at the Sociology of Education Conference, Taiwan, 5-6 May.
Darshini, N. (2016). What Do Parents Seek? Factors Influencing Malaysian Parents’ Decision to Enroll their Children in International Schools in Malaysia. Paper presented at the Hong Kong Comparative Education Conference, Hong Kong, 15-16 April.
Darshini, N. (2015). Fiction or Friction? Bringing the ‘Creative’ Back into Creative Writing. Paper presented at the RELC International Conference, Singapore, 13-15 March.
Darshini, N. (2015). From Michigan to Mekong: Lessons Learnt from a Technologically-Impaired Teacher. Paper presented at the CamTESOL International Conference, Cambodia, 28 February-1 March.
Darshini, N. (2014). Flipping Technology! How to Flip your Language Classroom with Minimal Hair Loss. Paper presented at the Fulbright Scholars’ Mid-Year Conference, United States of America, 11-15 December
Heather was awarded the 2019 FirstRand FNB Fund Scholarship for International Postgraduate study in Education
Heather’s research looks at the comparability of different language versions of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) in the diverse linguistic context of South Africa. She is using techniques from psychometrics and corpus linguistics to explore the difficulty and lexical comparability of PIRLS items and passages across different language versions.
After completing her MA in Applied Linguistics at the University of Johannesburg, Heather began teaching in Johannesburg, during which she completed her PGCE part-time. She has come to Oxford after seven years’ experience teaching in primary schools in South Africa. Her research interests include improving the quality and fairness of reading assessments within the diverse linguistic environment of South Africa. Since joining OUCEA, she has been involved in a collaborative project with International Baccalaureate that applies Differential Item Functioning analysis as well as techniques from Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning to compare the item difficulty and textual complexity of different language versions of science examinations. Heather is also a member of the OUCEA research team for PIRLS for England 2021.
TITLE OF THESIS
Investigating comparability across language versions of PIRLS Literacy 2016 in South Africa
McGrane, J., Kayton, H.L, Double, K., Woore, R., & El Masri, Y. Is Science Lost in Translation? Language Effects in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme Science Assessments. Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment – Commissioned report for the International Baccalaureate
Kayton, H. L., McGrane, J. A., (forthcoming Dec 2022). PIRLS 2021 Encyclopedia – England. Boston College, TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center