Dr Elizabeth Chilton

Dr Elizabeth Chilton

School of Education
Lecturer in Language, Literacies and Education
Digital Champion for the Department of Education and Social Justice

Contact details

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

Elizabeth is lecturer in language, literacies and education. She is the Programme Director for MEd Bilingualism in Education and convenes the MA/MSc module Language, Discourse and Society. As Digital Champion, Eizabeth leads the enhancement of digital learning and teaching across the Department of Education and Social Justice. She is a member of the School of Education’s Mosaic Group for Research in Multilingualism.

Elizabeth is a committee member of the National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum (NALDIC), the national subject association for English as an additional language (EAL).  She is Deputy Editor of NALDIC’s EAL Journal.

Her teaching and research reflect her interest in the interrelationship between ideologies, identities, social interactions and texts in multilingual and monolingual contexts, and the changing nature of literacy practices across time, space and digital boundaries. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


  • PhD (Education) 
  • PG Certificate in Research in Education
  • MEd (Education)
  • PGCE (Further, Adult and Higher Education)
  • BA (Hons) American Studies


Elizabeth has spent much of her early career working in post-compulsory education. Her interest in language, literacy practices and sociolinguistics is rooted in her experience of teaching adult literacy in adult, community and further education (FE) settings, and her experience of managing learning support provision in two FE colleges. This interest has developed over time as a result of her involvement in higher education through teaching on the English/literacy post-compulsory teacher education programme at the University of Wolverhampton, her research in the Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Mental Health at the University of Birmingham, and her PhD research.

Her PhD is a critical linguistic ethnography of practitioners’ interpretations of family literacy programmes in the West Midlands. Whilst completing her PhD Elizabeth was awarded two scholarships:  a Universitas21 PhD scholarship to visit the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia, Canada; and the Educational Review Research Degree Progress Scholarship. She won first prize for her poster presentation based on her PhD research (Exploring the positionings of researcher and participants: moving between local and global understandings of interactional data) at the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) International Conference in 2010.

Elizabeth is interested in the complex relationship that exists between language and social context, whether in schools, communities or institutional settings; a relationship that spans local and trans-local contexts. She is concerned with how social identities and relations are constructed through text, talk and other semiotic resources. She is particularly interested in how the social world is mediated through interaction with written and electronic texts.


Elizabeth is Programme Director for MEd Bilingualism in Education. She teaches on the MA Education and MSc TESOL module, Language, Discourse and Society (module leader)

Postgraduate supervision

Elizabeth supervises MA and PhD students on topics related to language and literacy practices.


Elizabeth’s research interests include:

  • Literacy practices – including home and school literacy practices; everyday and workplace literacies; multilingual literacy practices; digital literacy practices; academic literacies; literacy practices and accountability
  • Participatory research methods and approaches, including arts-based approaches
  • Interrelationship between ideologies, identities, social interactions and texts (print and electronic) in multilingual and monolingual contexts
  • (Multimodal) discourse analysis
  • Post-compulsory education – including adult literacy, family literacy and teacher education
  • Linguistic ethnography
  • ‘Small story’ narratives

Recent research

Principal investigator: Language portraits: Multimodal representations of linguistic repertoires. CI: Dr James Chisholm (University of Louisville, USA)

Co-investigator: The changing language and literacy landscapes of Brazilian universities: English in policy development and in practice

Other activities

  • Deputy Editor, NALDIC EAL Journal
  • Publications Committee Member, NALDIC
  • Convenor of the Mosaic Research Seminar Series for the MOSAIC Group for Research on Multilingualism
  • Member of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) and BAAL Special Interest Groups – Linguistic Ethnography Forum; Professional, Academic and Work-based Literacies, Language and Social Media, Language Policy
  • Member of AILA (International Association of Applied Linguistics) Research Network on Creative Inquiry in Applied Linguistics 

Journal reviewing

  • Internal peer review panel: Anthropology and Education Quarterly (2009-2013)
  • Peer reviewer: Educational Review (since 2019)
  • Editorial Advisory Review Board: Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice (LR:TMP) (February 2021) 

Conference presentations

Elizabeth has presented at a number of peer-reviewed international conferences. In August 2019 she was an invited speaker at the 7th International Colloquium on Literacy and Written Culture, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.