School Director of Research
REF Coordinator for Applied Linguistics
Member of University Senate
ECLS Director, iLAB:Learn
DPD MA Applied Linguistics Research
Chair IPhD Board of Examiners
1979 University of Durham. BA(Honours)Class 2:1,German(French subsid.)
1992 University of Aston. MSc in Teaching English.
1996 University of York D Phil. Title of thesis: ‘Learning Talk: a Study of the Interactional Organisation of the L2 Classroom from a CA Institutional Discourse Perspective.’
1983 International House London. RSA Cert TEFL
1984 Durham University School of Education. PGCE
1989 Centre for British Teachers, Brunei. RSA Dip TEFL
I am Chair of the UK New Route PhD Consortium. I am a member of the British Association of Applied Linguistics, the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society and the British Science Association.
The knowledge which is created by my research is of how people communicate in professional settings. Specifically, I uncover how the organisation of interaction in an institutional setting is related to the institutional goals. Close examination of the detail of the interaction can reveal issues and problems which can then be tackled through policy or training.
To get free electronic access to a number of my publications, please go to
I also research how digital technology can be combined with a task-based approach to promote language learning.
I am currently working on the EU-funded research project: Learning languages, cultures and cuisines in digital interactive kitchens - see below for details as well as the website http://www.europeandigitalkitchen.com
I am also working on a project on the IELTS Speaking Test: Speaking features that distinguish IELTS proficiency levels, funded by British Council/IELTS.
REF Coordinator for Applied Linguistics for the 2013 exercise.
School Director of Research and Chair, School Research Committee.
Chair, UK New Route PhD Consortium.
Editorial Board member for the journals: Classroom Discourse, English Profile Journal, Novitas Royal, Bellaterra, ARECLS.
Co-editor, Edinburgh University Press Book Series 'Studies in Social Interaction'.
ECLS Director, iLAB:Learn
PhD students who have completed are Ghaleb Rababah, Jim Ackers, Aboubaker El-Aswad, Eda Ustunel, Chris Jenks, Navaporn Sanprasert, Kitcha Thepsiri, Buthayna Al-Garawi, Hanan Waer, Olcay Sert and Chen-Ying Li.
I am currently supervising: Hiromi Mitani, Chanidapa Sookcharoen, Li-Ting Cheng, Ming-Fen Lo, Saad Al-Mutairi, Andy Harris, Nor Ishak, Aki Imuro.
The Modern Language Association of America awarded me its twenty-fifth annual Kenneth W. Mildenberger Prize in 2005 for my book The Interactional Architecture of the Language Classroom: A Conversation Analysis Perspective. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding work in the fields of language, culture, literacy, or literature with strong application to the teaching of languages other than English. The book was also shortlisted for the British Association for Applied Linguistics Book Prize 2005.
The book Conceptualising Learning in Applied Linguistics, for which I was first editor, was runner-up in the British Association for Applied Linguistics Book Prize 2011.
The French Digital Kitchen project won the 2012 European Language Label prize.
I have given invited plenary talks at conferences in Denmark, UK, Italy, Korea, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Turkey, Finland and Malaysia.
I am currently external examiner for:
University of Warwick Doctorate in Education and MA programmes(ELT and Applied Linguistics)
University of Southampton MA Applied Linguistics and MA ELT.
I have been external examiner for 11 UK doctorates as well as for theses in Australia, Finland, Spain and Switzerland.
Expert list member, EU Comenius and Erasmus programmes.
I currently have 2 funded projects:
1) Speaking features that distinguish IELTS proficiency levelsThis project received a grant of £22,000 from British Council/IELTS. I am sole investigator. The overall aim of the project is to identify speaking features that distinguish IELTS proficiency levels in the IELTS Speaking Test (IST). There are two research questions: 1)The grading criteria distinguish between levels 5, 6, 7 and 8 in the ways described in the Speaking Band descriptors To what extent are these differences evident in Tests at those levels? 2)Which speaking features distinguish Tests rated at levels 5, 6, 7 and 8 from each other? For the first research question, quantitative measures of constructs in the grading criteria are applied to the spoken data. The second question is answered by working inductively from the spoken data.
2. Learning languages, cultures and cuisines in digital interactive kitchens
This project received a grant of €400,000 from the European Union KA2 Programme and runs for 3 years from 1 December 2011. Paul Seedhouse and Patrick Olivier are lead investigators.
The project develops new materials for our existing application of technology to language learning, namely the use of embedded digital sensors (ambient intelligence) together with a Task Based learning approach. In a previous project, we have built digital kitchens that speak to the users in French and give them step-by-step instructions on how to prepare French cuisine. Sensors (accelerometers) are attached to kitchen equipment and ingredients so when an item is correctly or incorrectly moved, participants can be given appropriate verbal feedback. Users learn targeted grammar and vocabulary items by doing the task and are post-tested on those items on a digital screen.
Students in classrooms rehearse the language, rather than carrying out actions, and it is difficult to bring foreign culture to life in the classroom. The pedagogical design of the kitchen means that learners learn European languages whilst performing a meaningful real-world task and experience the cultural aspect of learning to cook a European dish.
We propose to use the technology developed for the French digital kitchen project to produce materials for other European languages and cuisines: English, German, Spanish, Catalan, Italian and Finnish. Partner institutions develop materials for use with specific languages and cuisines, including cultural aspects. Partners are the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, the University of Helsinki, Paderborn University and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
This European Digital Kitchen project will produce a network of 7 functioning portable kitchens across Europe, each of which can teach 7 languages and cuisines. Each unit consists of a laptop with touchscreen and a set of utensils with embedded sensors.
This study targets lifelong learning, higher and vocational education and training, promoting learning of 7 languages and linguistic diversity. The study will impact on learners who use the kitchens, whilst open platform technology means that a much broader exploitation is achievable. See http://digitalinstitute.ncl.ac.uk/ilablearn/kitchen.
Able to record and analyse communication in institutional settings. Close analysis of details of the interaction can uncover the sources of communication problems and suggest solutions to these.
Applications of digital technology to language learning.
I am module leader for the following modules : Research Methods in Applied Linguistics , Research Methods in Applied Linguistics for Doctoral Students. I also teach on the following modules: Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Understanding Second Language Classroom Interaction and the HASS Faculty research training programme.