The Language and Literacy in Education Research Group

This group brings together a number of researchers across the fields of education, teacher education, psychology, and first and second language learning. The group is interested in issues relating to the development of language and literacy in instructed, experimental and naturalistic settings. Interests span both first and second language development and pedagogy, monolingualism, bilingualism and multilingualism, including learners of English as an additional language (EAL). The development of literacy is a particular area of interest for several members of the group. Our interests cover learners from the pre-school years through all school phases and into adulthood. Our work includes learners who show typical development and those with special educational needs including dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders and specific language impairment.

In their research, members of the group use both naturally occurring and elicited data from language learners, users and teachers, and work within both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. We are part of the University’s interdisciplinary institute, the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM), and as such have close links with English Language and Applied Linguistics, Psychology and Clinical Language SciencesModern Languages and European Studies and the International Study and Language Institute. Work from the Language and Literacy in Education research group is recognised for its importance both nationally and internationally. This research group sits within the University’s Prosperity and Resilience theme which mirrors members’ overarching aim to foster language and literacy among all learners as a route to self-efficacy and economic well-being.



Staff members of the group and their research interests

Cara Broadhurst: Teaching early reading; home and school reading links and spaces

Dr. Naomi Flynn: Pedagogy for teaching children with EAL; effective teachers of English; policy for teaching English; developing teachers’ subject knowledge for teaching English/ EAL through on-line learning spaces; the position of English as a global language.

Professor Suzanne Graham : Second language learner strategies; motivation; second language listening comprehension; second language pedagogy and teacher cognition; transition across different stages of language education

Dr. Holly Joseph: Reading development and difficulties; incidental vocabulary acquisition during reading; discourse level processing during reading; skilled adult reading; reading in children with comprehension difficulties, ASD, dyslexia and in children with EAL

Barbara King: MFL education; primary languages; content and language integrated learning (CLIL); learner identity

Dr. Daguo Li: Motivation; language learner strategies; second language pedagogy; professional development for second language teachers; international education; intercultural communication

Dr. Daisy Powell: Literacy acquisition; in particular the development of word-level reading and spelling skills in typically and atypically developing children. Understanding the link between Rapid Automatised Naming (RAN) and reading development. Reading ability and academic attainment in young adults. The development of number skills

Professor Brian Richards: First and second language acquisition; bilingualism; vocabulary development; language assessment. Currently working on an analysis of the discourse related to ‘grammatical correctness’ and the debates and controversies arising from this.

Rachel Roberts: Discourse in Education, particularly in ITT; Transition between key stages; the use of Media and Moving Image in the classroom; Expertise in teaching; Observation as part of ITT and CPD in education; Teaching of writing at KS2 and 3.

Dr. Alison Silby: Theory and practice of teaching English in primary schools; children’s literature: exploring gender and identity; transition in primary education: impact on writing; literacy and inclusion; supporting literacy through primary music education; Qualitative research methodologies.

Stephanie Sharp: Literacy and transition between Key Stages 2 & 3

Professor Rhona Stainthorp: The development of reading and writing including spelling and handwriting; precocious reading ability; children with reading difficulties; effective teaching of reading and writing; Reading ability and academic attainment in young adults

Dr. Clare Wright: Multilingual acquisition/education, task-based teaching, individual differences and working memory: particular focus on learning processes involved in building grammatical knowledge and oral fluency for L2 English and L2 Mandarin. Director of Bilingualism Matters @ Reading.


We have links with the Forum for Research in Language and Literacy (FRiLL) based at the Institute of Education, University of London, Bilingualism Matters , and the Special Education Centre at Macquarie University in Australia. Colleagues working in second language work closely with the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL), and the European Association for Second Language Acquisition (EUROSLA), among others,

Alongside the work we do with practitioners in our partnership schools, we have strong links with professional associations such as the Association for Language Learning, the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA), the National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE), the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR), the British Psychological Society (BPS), the Experimental Psychology Society (EPS) and the British Education Research Association (BERA).

We also act as consultants to Government here and overseas about the teaching of language and literacy. For example, our work in the area of phonics has influenced government curriculum policy in England and abroad, as has our research in the teaching of Modern Foreign Languages.



Current and recent research projects

  • Investigating online inference making in children who speak English as an additional language. Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism
  • Professional Development Consortium in Modern Languages. ESRC Follow-on Fund, 2012-2013; PI: Suzanne Graham
  • Primary Modern Languages: The impact of teaching approaches on attainment and preparedness for secondary school language learning.
  • Second language listening comprehension in England: From current practice to improved pedagogy.
  • Autovocab: The analysis of vocabulary and n-grams in the Pearson Test of English Academic.


Postgraduate research proposals are welcomed in all areas of Language and Literacy research. Detailed information about postgraduate research and how to make an application can be found in the Institute of Education’s Postgraduate Research pages.