School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Staff Profiles

Dr Elaine Lopez

Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and TESOL



I joined Newcastle University as Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and TESOL in September 2016, having previously worked at the University of Leeds. My primary research area is formal linguistic (generative) approaches to Second Language Acquisition and the application of this research to the language classroom. I also do collaborative work on child language acquisition. I became interested in acquisition while working as an English language teacher abroad. On returning to the UK I spent a decade working and studying in Yorkshire before moving to the beautiful NE coast.

I am the Degree Programme Director (DPD) for the MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL, the co-convenor/chair of the Language and Cognition Research Group and a Senior Fellow of the HEA. I teach modules on Language Awareness, English for Academic Purposes and Research Methods on the MA ALT. I spend my spare time building sandcastles with my son, boxing, and listening to reggaeton and 90s hip hop.


PhD Linguistics, University of York 2015
MA Applied Linguistics with TESOL, University of Sheffield (pass with distinction) 2010
BA English Language and Linguistics, University of Sheffield (first class honours) 2009

Area of expertise

Second Language Acquisition of morpho-syntax

Previous Positions

Lecturer in TESOL, University of Leeds (January 2015-September 2016)
Associate Lecturer in TESOL (English for Academic Purposes), Sheffield Hallam University (2009-2013)
Various ELT roles in Indonesia, Mexico and the UK (2002-2009)

Google scholar: Click here.


I research second language acquisition and language teaching, and my research is underpinned by two key questions: why is what is taught not what is learnt (and vice versa)? and why do learners make the errors that they make? Both of these questions arose when I worked as a language teacher, and after 12 years studying and now researching language acquisition they remain the questions that drive me.

In order to explore these questions I research formal linguistic (generative) approaches to the Second Language Acquisition (SLA) of morpho-syntax as well as more applied work around learning and teaching. My doctoral research was a teaching intervention which investigated the classroom application of generative SLA research. It connected theoretical research on acquisition of the English article system to instruction on articles for Chinese learners of English. Current projects include a corpus study of expletive subject use by Chinese, Spanish and German learners of English, and skills development in highly qualified refugees (funded by Erasmus ). 

I am increasingly interested in how individual differences impact on acquisition and learning as well as child language development, both of which are areas I hope to explore more in the near future. I am also interested in how psycholinguistic research methods could be used as a measure of classroom-based learning. 


Module leader for

ALC8024 Language Awareness

ALC8020 Research Methods

I also teach/have taught on the modules ALC8033 English for Academic Purposes and ALC8026 Language Learning

Degree programme director for the MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)