Natalie Finlayson

Natalie Finlayson

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

I am a postdoctoral research fellow on the Reading Concordances in the 21st Century (RC21) project led by Michaela Mahlberg in collaboration with Stephanie Evert (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg). In this role, I am currently leading on the development of a systematic account of strategies used by corpus linguists to organise and analyse concordances.

I am interested in corpus and cognitive semantic approaches to the contrastive study of lexis across modern Romance and Germanic languages. I also explore applications of this knowledge in language education, translation and discourse analysis. I enjoy public engagement activities and have previously worked with UK-based secondary school teachers, teacher educators and awarding organisations to develop aspects of language education policy.


  • PhD in English Language and Linguistics (University of Glasgow, 2022)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PgCAP) (University of Glasgow, 2020)
  • MSc in Translating and Conference Interpreting (Heriot-Watt University, 2013)
  • MA in French and German (University of Glasgow, 2012)


I joined the department in 2023 from the University of York, where I worked as a Research Associate in Language Education (2022-2023) and a Learning Resource Developer (2019-2022). Alongside these roles, I held a part-time position as a Research Assistant in Language Education at the University of Leeds (2021-2023).

Before coming to England, I worked at the University of Glasgow (2015-2020), where I also held a College of Arts Scholarship to fund my PhD in English Language and Linguistics. My thesis entitled ‘Making and evaluating topic word lists for intermediate learners of English and German: A corpus and cognitive semantic approach’ was supervised by Professor Wendy AndersonProfessor Sheila Dickson, and Dr Barbara Burns and examined by Dr Dana Gablasova and Professor Tom Bartlett. I graduated in 2022.  

I was awarded a Carnegie-Cameron Taught Postgraduate Bursary to study for my master’s degree in Translating and Conference Interpreting (Heriot-Watt University, 2012-2013), for which I received the prize for best overall performance. My dissertation, supervised by Dr Marion Winters, focussed on the translation of animal imagery in Wie Es Euch Gefällt (As You Like It). I completed my undergraduate MA in French and German at the University of Glasgow in 2012 and was awarded the Agnes Smith Memorial Medal for the most distinguished student of German.

I have also worked as a Native Language Teacher (University of Nice, 2013-2015) and as External Examiner for German (University of Salford, 2018-2022).


My research has focussed on using corpus methods in combination with other approaches to answer questions in cognitive semantics, EAP, language education, and medical humanities, and to inform the development of materials, tools and methodological processes for applied linguistics purposes.

My PhD research explored the overlap between highly frequent topic vocabulary in written discourse (corpus frequency) and semantic category prototypes (associative frequency) and considered applications of this knowledge in the development of pedagogical word lists. In my Research Associate work with Professor Emma Marsden on the Language-Driven Pedagogy project at the University of York, I led on the development of MultilingProfiler (Finlayson, Marsden & Anthony, 2022), an adaptable online vocabulary profiling tool for use with texts in highly inflected languages (French, German and Spanish). I have since used the tool to investigate various issues in LOTE education, such as the reading coverage provided by word lists developed for languages GCSEs. At the University of Leeds, I worked with Dr Huahui Zhao and Dr Yen Dang on the Unveiling the factors for the predictive validity of IELTS for postgraduate studies project. We investigated the relationship between IELTS scores, use of academic language, and performance in postgraduate assessments. I have also collaborated with Dr Moira Hansen at the Centre for Robert Burns Studies to develop a corpus of Burns’s personal letters and look for links between frequent use of metaphorical language in his correspondence and significant episodes of disordered mood in his life. For this work, we were awarded the prize for Best Poster Presentation at CL2019.


Recent publications


Finlayson, N & Marsden, E 2023, Assessing Depth of Word Knowledge of Beginner Learners of French, German and Spanish Aged 11–14 in England. in SW Chong & H Reinders (eds), Innovation in Learning-Oriented Language Assessment . 1 edn, New Language Learning and Teaching Environments, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 137-161.

Finlayson, N 2022, A grand problem and a jolly solution: Unmasking false friends with corpus analysis. in V Viana (ed.), Teaching English with Corpora: A Resource Book. 1st edn, Routledge, pp. 44-48.

Finlayson, N 2022, Exploring similes in corpus data. in V Viana (ed.), Teaching English with Corpora: A Resource Book. 1st edn, Routledge, pp. 104-108.

Finlayson, N 2022, Using corpora to explore varieties of English. in V Viana (ed.), Teaching English with Corpora: A Resource Book. 1st edn, Routledge, pp. 114-117.

Conference contribution

Hansen, M & Finlayson, N 2022, “Adrift after some wayward pursuit”: a literary and corpus-linguistic analysis of Robert Burns’s use of water-related language in relation to mood disorder. in T Tran (ed.), L'eau en Écosse – Water in Scotland: Actes du colloque 2018 de la Société française d'études écossaises 2018. 1 edn, Annales littéraires, Presses Universitaires de Franche-Comté, Besançon, France, Colloque international annuel de la Société française d’études écossaises 2018, Tours, France, 8/11/18.

Doctoral Thesis

Finlayson, N 2022, 'Making and evaluating topic word lists for intermediate learners of English and German: A corpus and cognitive semantic approach', ???, University of Glasgow.


Finlayson, N, Marsden, E & Anthony, L, MultilingProfiler (Version 3), 2022, Software, University of York. <>

View all publications in research portal