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EL Research

Mapping the masters market


A team of researchers at the University of Stirling has set out to take the pulse of the ELT masters provision in the UK, Claudia Civinini writes. With our experience in compiling huge lists of masters, it doesn’t come as a surprise that such research would attract our attention. In a study funded by the British Council, the team has indexed UK ELT masters provision and elicited students’ opinions on a range of topics related to their programmes. As well as practical guidance for providers and recruiters, the team hopes to develop a theoretical understanding of the student experience, which has been lacking to date for Tesol students.

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Sheffield’s £1m for natural learning

University Sheffield BEA

A research team from the University of Sheffield in the UK has been awarded a £1 million grant by the Leverhulme Trust to carry out a major research project with an ambitious aim: make language learning more natural for adults, Claudia Civinini writes. Team members Dr Dagmar Divjak and Dr Petar Milin represent expertise from a wide range of fields, from linguistics and psychology to machine learning, and are supported by research software engineer Dr Mike Croucher.

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EAP – The medium or the message?

English for academic purposes (EAP) is the branch of ELT that concerns itself with the study of English in, and for, higher education, Claudia Civinini writes. We wanted to have a taste of the research that powers teaching practice in EAP, and we went right to the source: the courses that prepare future EAP instructors. We talked to Professor Sue Wharton, course leader of the MA English language teaching – EAP and ESP at the University of Warwick, and Dr Heath Rose, course leader of the MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (TELUS) at the University of Oxford. Their responses focus on the ever-increasing use of English as a medium of instruction (EMI) in higher education, and the changes brought by the use of English as a lingua franca (ELF).

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Gestures, grammar and global issues

Photo courtesy of Tulane University Public Relations with Creative Commons license

Claudia Civinini presents a round-up of the latest ELT and applied linguistics research.


Has English removed all barriers to the global sharing of knowledge? A paper published in PLOS Biology, ‘Languages are still a major barrier to global science’, thinks otherwise. Using Google Scholar in sixteen languages, researchers surveyed 75,513 scientific documents on biodiversity conservation published in 2014 and found that 35 per cent of them were not in English, with most of these providing neither an abstract nor a title in English.

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Neuroscience meets linguistics


Claudia Civinini looks at a review trying to connect neurolinguistics and the classroom

Knowing what a P600 is might not be at the top of a teacher’s priorities – except to make sure that it is not yet another requirement of their school’s nightmarish bureaucracy. Certainly, the fact that the P600 is a type of brain response often associated with syntax violations could make it very interesting to language teachers. It would be even more compelling if they could use this knowledge in class. But can neurolinguistics inform classroom teaching, and if so how?

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