I am a researcher and teacher in the field of TESOL and Applied Linguistics, specialising in English for Academic Purposes (EAP). I am interested in how learners and users of English in academic contexts acquire linguistic forms and structures, use these in appropriate ways, and express new meanings as new knowledge is created and disseminated. I have published work on the phraseological features of written academic discourse in different disciplines, and on how English words take on new meanings during the process of interdisciplinary research collaboration. I am currently looking at these meanings using Frame Semantics (Fillmore 1976), which draws on cognitive and corpus linguistic approaches.
I have been fortunate to work with and learn from many researchers, teachers, and learners of English at universities around the world, all of whom have influenced my approach to the investigation, description and teaching of academic English. I studied at the University of Leeds where I learned from Lynne Cameron and Martin Bygate about the way second languages are acquired. Alice Deignan introduced me to using software to study lexical and grammatical patterns in language. The obvious prevalence of patterns in academic English led me to work on formulaic language: language which is produced ‘ready-made’ rather than composed from scratch, and which can be important in certain social situations. Peter Howarth introduced me to the related field of phraseology, and how software can evaluate the form-function phrases which are frequently taught in EAP writing classes.
After teaching EAP at the University of Hull I joined the English Department at the University of Birmingham where I was able to learn more about corpus linguistics, lexico-grammar, metaphor, and EAP through working with Nicholas Groom, Susan Hunston, Tim Johns, Philip King, Jeannette Littlemore, and Rosamund Moon. After completing my PhD, which was supervised by Alice Deignan and examined by Ronald Carter and John Flowerdew, I moved to the Applied Linguistics and Technology Program at Iowa State University in the USA. Here I learned from David R. Russell about the field of Rhetoric, which complements EAP by teaching English academic writing in the Liberal Arts traditions of logic and argumentation. My colleagues Evgeny Chukharev-Hudilainen and Volker Hegelheimer also introduced me to the ever-shifting field of computer-assisted second language acquisition, applying concepts and methodologies from computational linguistics and educational psychology. From my time running the Academic Literacy Development Centre at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, I have on-going research projects on lexis, grammar, and phraseology in EAP in English Medium of Instruction (EMI) universities in China.
At the University of Liverpool my interests in academic English research, teaching, and learning all meet in the MA Programmes in Applied Linguistics and TESOL in the Department of English. I am happy to hear from applicants for PhD study in the following areas: Applications of English Corpus Linguistics, particularly for Chinese learners of English for Academic Purposes; Interdisciplinary Academic Discourse; English Grammar, Vocabulary, and Lexico-Grammar; Phraseology, Formulaic Language, Collocation, Multi-word Expressions and Lexical Bundles.