English language teaching and applied linguistics

At Birmingham we conduct research in a number of areas of language teaching and learning.

These include business English, English for Academic Purposes, corpus approaches to the learning and teaching of phraseology, lexis and grammar, discourse approaches to academic and second language learning and teaching, cognitive linguistics, the  acquisition of metaphor by language learners and applications of integrational linguistics to language teaching. We have a particularly strong focus on learner corpora and interdisciplinary variation in academic writing, and the applications that these have to English language teaching.

We have considerable research strengths in Business English and workplace discourse. Our work includes the application of research on workplace and business corpora to the teaching of English for Business and Professional Purposes. We have contributed to the development of published teaching and teacher training materials, as well as producing internationally renowned monographs on the management of change in educational contexts, the teaching and learning of figurative language, cognitive linguistics and language learning, the teaching of lexico-grammar, collocation and pronunciation, and the teaching of English for Academic Purposes.

We also have experience of researching policy and practice in the teaching and learning of English within the English school system, including using corpus methods with young learners. Dr Jeannette Littlemore is currently involved in a research project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education, investigating the language used in multilingual office hour tutorials with ERASMUS students. Previous research projects include a British Council-funded investigation into the use of metaphor and gesture in bilingual encounters and a Cambridge ESOL-funded investigation into the use of metaphor in Cambridge written English examinations.

We have two highly reputed Masters programmes that reflect these interests: the MA in TEFL/TESL and the MA in Applied Linguistics. These programmes are offered both on campus and through distance education. We also run a thriving PhD programme in English Language and Applied Linguistics with students working on a variety of topics related to second language teaching and learning.

Staff and their areas of expertise

  • Dr Nicholas Groom The compilation, analysis and exploitation of learner corpora and pedagogic corpora.
  • Professor Susan Hunston The study of evaluative language and the analysis of written academic English. 
  • Dr Suganthi John The analysis of academic discourse, particularly issues on writer identity and self-representation. EAP research and research on academic writing development, including materials design for writing and the teaching of writing.
  • Jeannette Littlemore Cognitive Linguistics and the acquisition of metaphor and metonymy by language learners.
  • Dr Paul Thompson Academic discourse and uses of educational technologies in language learning.
  • Professor Michael Toolan Applications of Integrationist Linguistics to second language learning and teaching.
  • Dr Crayton Walker Collocations; the way they operate in the English language compared with the way they are taught in the classroom. The phraseological behaviour of high frequency nouns and verbs and how these are represented in mainstream EFL coursebooks.