Dr Deirdre Martin


Senior Lecturer

School of Education

Deirdre Martin

Contact details

School of Education
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom


Qualifying as a speech and language therapist, Deirdre spent over two years in a special school in Peru, where she worked, through Spanish, with teachers and children with a range of educational needs. She continued to work as a speech and language therapist in the UK, and obtained masters and doctoral degrees in aspects of speech and language development and difficulty in bilingual children. She entered higher education as a lecturer in clinical phonetics and linguistics before taking up her current post in the School of Education, in the University of Birmingham.


  • PhD
  • MSc
  • LCST


Programme lead for the Masters programme in Language, Literacies and Dyslexia. The entry qualifications for the masters level programme are 2.1 degree or equivalent qualification/study, and professional work with/access to learners with literacy difficulties /dyslexia.  Students who successfully complete the first year of the masters level Language, Literacies and Dyslexia programme are eligible to receive the University of Birmingham PGCertificate award and may be eligible to apply for professional status accredited by the British Dyslexia Association.

Postgraduate supervision

Deirdre is interested in the following research topics:

  • A critical, poststructural perspective on traditional research approaches to language disabilities and literacy difficulties in inclusive and culturally/ linguistically diverse contexts;
  • sociocultural approaches to disabilities; researching with ethnographic approaches and intervention methods;
  • using socio-cultural and activity theory approaches to interprofessional learning and collaborative practices.

She currently supervises a number of students including the following:

PhD opportunities


Research Interests

Speech, language and communication needs in education

This research focused on the interface of language disability and learning in contexts of school inclusion. It was orientated by theories concerned with the relationship between language and learning developed for bilingual learners in the work of Jim Cummins and more recently by socio-cultural theory in the work of Neil Mercer. Ideas in this vein were developed in two books written jointly with Dr Carol Miller and a third solo authored work (1996/2003, 1999, 2000). They also appeared in a contribution to Norwich and Lewis’s (2005) text critically interrogating the notion of specialist pedagogy for learners with identified special educational needs.

Empirical research with specialist provision for children and young people with complex communication needs examined aspects of planning for the educational and communication management of the students, through research consultancy with a residential school (2002) and through analysis of Ofsted reports and site visits (2000).

More recently, research has focused on developing conceptualisation/concepts about speech and language difficulties and needs using socio-cultural theory through an ESRC research seminar series (2004-6) and a subsequent School of Education funded seminar series.

Language and literacy disability in cultural and linguistic diversity

There are three inter-related threads to her research in this area. Theoretically this research has drawn on psycholinguistic approaches to explore early literacy skills in bilingual children, and socio-cultural approaches to explore developing children and young people’s identity in culturally and linguistically diverse contexts. She also developed resources as tools to support research in bilingualism.

Empirical research funded by the ESRC (1996-7) explored the relationship between phonological awareness in both languages of bilingual children who were learning EAL literacy skills. This line of research was continued by researching the changing form of Panjabi in English contexts through codeswitching, using corpus linguistics to demonstrate changes in lexis and surface patterns of Panjabi (Leverhulme fellowship 1998). This work led to a British Council consultancy working in the Czech Republic with TEFL teachers in the development of professional knowledge and teaching skills for dyslexia in inclusive (heterogeneous) TEFL classrooms. Collaborative work with doctoral students drawn on socio-cultural explored the effects of metacognitive / transactional teaching with TEFL and EAL students on academic achievement (Goldfus 2001, Sheik Abdullah 2005, Nelson 2006).

Another approach she took to bilingualism, language and literacy explored children’s constructions of their identity through bilingualism and literacy practices in school and home. This research took place in England (ESRC 1996-7) and South Africa (1997).

The development of the Bilingual Database was funded by an award from BT through the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, and is maintained with support from the School of Education, University of Birmingham.

Policy into practice: Learning in and for multi-agency working

This research was orientated by socio-cultural activity theory to examine aspects of organisational learning in the implementation of government policy about ‘joined up’ thinking and working among professionals working with children at risk (Every Child Matters 2003). This research interest involved her in a variety of research projects. She was a co-director in a major national project, linked with international projects, concerning organisational learning for multi-agency and multi-disciplinary working around young people at risk, “Learning in and for inter-agency working” led by Professsors Harry Daniels and Anne Edwards (ESRC TLRP 2004-7). She was also co-organiser of a three-university ESRC funded research seminar series, “Integrating services into schools: policy, discourse and research” (ESRC 2006-7). This research orientation led to two further projects with a local LA. One project looked at intra-professional learning between therapists and bilingual co-workers in a Speech and Language Therapy service (Martin 2005). A further externally funded project examined the integration of Speech and Language Therapy services into secondary schools (Children’s Fund Dudley LA 2005-6).

Current research

2010-2013: Researching multilingualism, multilingualism in research practice, ESRC Researcher Development Initiative (ESRC RES- 046-25-0004 £80,000); D. Martin (PI), with Professor Marilyn Martin-Jones, Dr Sheena Gardner, Professor Adrian Blackledge and Professor Angela Creese.

Collaboration with academic colleagues in USA for lecture/seminar tour during sabbatical March –April 2010. Also March 2013: Paper at the Wilga Rivers Invited Colloquium, Americal Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) March 2013 with Professor James Lantolf. Editorial Board:Language and Sociocultural Theory, Equinox 2013.  

Forthcoming edited volume: "Researching dyslexia in multilingual settings: diverse perspectives"  (Multilingual Matters).

Other activities

Editorship of journals: Executive Editor of Educational Review (1999-2009);

Editorial Board, Language and Sociocultural Theory, Equinox 2013-

Peer review of funded grant applications for major funding agencies, e.g. ESRC, BIG Lottery Fund; Peer review for 7 international journals; External examiner (2009-12) for BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy degree programme, University of Manchester. External Examiner for PhD theses.


Selected Publications

Martin, D. (Ed)(2013) Researching Dyslexia in Multilingual Settings: Diverse Perspectives, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Book details

Martin D. (2012) Dynamic assessment of language disabilities, Language Teaching, 1-18. ISSN: 0261-4448. DOI: 10.1017/S026144481200016X

Martin DM. (2011) A critical linguistic ethnographic approach to language disabilities in multilingual families. In Multilingualism, Discourse and Ethnography, 320, Gardner S, Martin-Jones M (Co-Editors), Routledge, London, ISBN: 9780415874946.

Martin, D. (2009) Language Disabilities in Cultural and Linguistic Diversity, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters

Martin, D. (2009) Research Directions in Leading and Managing Collaborative Practice,  in J. Forbes and C. Watson (Eds) Service Integration in Schools: Research and Policy Discourses, Practice and Future Prospects, Rotterdam/Taipei: Sense Publishers 93- 96.

Martin, D. (2008) A new paradigm to inform inter-professional learning for integrating speech and language provision into secondary schools: a socio-cultural Activity Theory approach, (Special Issue) Child Language Teaching and Therapy 24, 2, 173-192

Full publication list for Dr Deirdre Martin

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