Dr Almut Koester PhD


Senior Lecturer

Department of English Literature

Photograph of Dr Almut Koester

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


I am a Senior Lecturer in English Language and specialise in the area of spoken discourse and workplace language.


I have a BA in Cultural Anthropology, an MA in Applied Linguistics from the University of Birmingham, and a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Nottingham investigating spoken office discourse.


After completing my undergraduate studies in the USA, I became interested in English language teaching, and went to live and work in France and Germany for a number of years, eventually obtaining a Masters and a PhD in Applied Linguistics. My work experience, prior to taking up my post at Birmingham in 2001, includes working as an English language teacher, teacher trainer, and director of studies in Germany, France and the USA and lecturing at the University of Nottingham.


I teach courses in TEFL, Discourse Analysis, Genre Analysis and Business English to undergraduates and MA students studying English Language. I also teach on short, intensive teacher training courses in English teaching methods.

Postgraduate supervision

I am interested in supervising research students who would like to work on a project in the area of spoken workplace communication.


My research is in the area of spoken workplace discourse, and I am particularly interested in the function of interpersonal features of language, such as idioms, metaphor and the use of small talk in workplace interaction. The approaches I use include discourse analysis, conversation analysis, genre analysis and corpus linguistics. I am also interested in applying insights from research to the teaching of Business English.

Areas of research

  • The analysis of spoken workplace discourse
  • Figurative language and interpersonal features of talk
  • Teaching applications of research

Other activities

  • I am actively involved in trying to bridge the gap between research and practice in English Language Teaching, for example I develop teaching materials and write a column for a learner magazine on Business English. I have also run teacher training courses and workshops both in and outside the university. For example, I have organised short intensive courses for academics from Chinese universities and for Japanese secondary school teachers.
  • I am Academic Advisor to students on the Distance (Modular and Sandwich) PhD programmes in English Language.



  • Koester, A. 2010. Workplace Discourse. London: Continuum.
  • Koester, A. 2006. Investigating Workplace Discourse. London: Routledge.
  • Koester, A. 2004. The Language of Work, London: Routledge.

Papers in refereed journals

  • Chen, P., Littlemore, J., Barnden, J. and Koester, A. (forthcoming). Metaphor and the non-native speaker. A varied landscape of difficulties. Applied Linguistics.
  • Handford, M. and Koester, A. 2011. ‘It’s not Rocket Science’: Metaphors and Idioms in Conflictual Business Meetings’. Text & Talk. 30 (1):  27-51.
  • Low, J. Littlemore, J. and Koester, A. (2008). Metaphor use in three UK university lectures. Applied Linguistics 29 (3): 428-455.
  • Koester, A. 2004. ‘Relational sequences in workplace genres’. Journal of Pragmatics 36: 1405-1428.
  • Koester, A. 2002. The Performance of speech acts in workplace conversations and the teaching of communicative functions’. System 30 (2): 167-184.

Contributions to edited works

  • Koester, A. (forthcoming) ‘Corpora and workplace discourse’ in K. Hyland, M. H. Chau, & M. Handford (eds), Corpora in Applied Linguistics: current approaches and future directions. London: Continuum.
  • Koester, A. and Handford, M. (forthcoming) ‘Spoken professional genres’. In J. P. Gee and M. Handford (Eds). The Routledge  Handbook of Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge.
  • Koester, A. (forthcoming). ‘English for Occupational Purposes’. In , C.A. Chapelle (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
  • Koester, A. (forthcoming). ‘Working in English’. In  D. Allington, A. Hewings, and G. Cook,(Eds), Worlds of English: Talk, Text and Technology. Milton Keynes: The Open University.
  • Koester, A. 2010. Building small specialised corpora. In McCarthy, M. and O’Keeffe, A. (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Corpus Linguistics. London: Routledge.
  • Koester, A. 2009. ‘Conversation Analysis in the language classroom’. In Susan Hunston and David Oakey (Eds), Introducing Applied Linguistics: Key Concepts and Skills. London: Routledge, pp.37-48.
  • Koester, A. 2007. ‘ “About Twelve Thousand or so”: Vagueness in North American and UK Offices’. In Cutting, J. (Ed.), Vague Language Explored. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 40-61.
  • Mercer N and Koester, A. 2007. ‘English at Work’. In Maybin, J., Mercer, N. and Hewings, A. (eds), Using English. London: Routledge.
  • Koester, A. 1990. ‘The Intonation of agreeing and disagreeing in English and German’. In Hewings, M. (Ed.), Papers in Discourse Intonation. Discourse Analysis Monograph 16. University of Birmingham: English Language Research, pp. 83-101.

Papers in refereed conference proceedings

  • Koester, A. 2007. The Contribution of materials development in ESP: The case of Business English. A TESOL Symposium: Teaching English for Specific Purposes, Universidad Argentina de la Empresa, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 12 July 2007. Alexandria, Virginia: Teachers to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.
  • Koester, A. 2000a. Getting things done and getting along in the office. In Coulthard, M., Cotterill J. and Rock, F. (Eds), Dialogue Analysis VII: Working with Dialogue. Selected papers from the 7th IADA Conference, Birmingham 1999. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag GmbH, 197-207.
  • Koester, A. 2000b. ‘The Role of Idioms in Negotiating Workplace Encounters’. In Trappes-Lomax, H. (Ed.), Change and Continuity in Applied Linguistics. Selected papers from the Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics held at the University of Edinburgh, September 1999. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 169-183.
  • Koester, A. 2000c. ‘Teaching spoken discourse: What we can learn from “real” conversations’. In Pulverness, A. (Ed.). IATEFL 2000 Dublin Conference Selections. Whitstable, Kent: IATEFL, 55-56.

Other published conference papers

Other papers/publications


  • Raymond Murphy with Almut Koester 2001. Essential Grammar in Use (adapted German edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 0-521-64560-3.


  • Since 2001, I have been writing a regular column entitled ‘Authentic English’ for Business Spotlight, a magazine for Learners of English as a Foreign Language published in Germany.

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