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About me

I was educated at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada (Bachelor of Journalism, 1994; Master of Applied Language Studies, 2001) and the Department of Education and Professional Studies at King's College London, University of London (PhD Applied Linguistics, 2010).

After university I worked for two years as a newspaper reporter in my hometown, Ottawa, Canada, then took a job working as an assistant English teacher at a junior high school in Seoul, Korea. This prompted me to become more interested in the academic study of language, which led me to an MA degree in language studies. I worked in Tokyo, Japan for seven years as an English instructor at the university level, then came to London to work on a PhD.

I joined this department in 2008, where I teach Language and Texts for first year undergraduates and Discourse Analysis for the second year, as well as Sociolinguistics for MA students. I also administer the work experience module for undergraduate students.

My research interests are primarily in the area of discourse analysis (the academic study of language in use), sociolinguistics (the relationship between society and language) and language teaching.

Teaching

I am a lecturer in English Language. I teach Language and Texts for first-year students, which is largely an exploration of functional grammar and its relation to language at the text level. 'Text' here means 'language that is longer than one sentence'. People are often aware of the grammatical rules that organise language at the sentence level (subject, verb, object, for example), but they are rarely aware of the rules that show how parts of longer texts are organised. In this module students review their knowledge of traditional grammar to an extent, but the primary focus is on systemic functional grammar.

I teach Discourse Analysis for second year undergraduates, which is the investigation of 'language in use': how we speak and write differently at different times, how we use prosodic features (speed, emphasis, etc.) to change the meaning of what we say, and so on. This is the most interesting aspect of language study, for it helps us think about how we make sense of the multitude of things we see and hear each day, many of which are initially ambiguous. For example, why would I react one way when my young daughter says, 'I'm hungry', but react differently when a student at the university says the same thing?

At the MA level I teach Sociolinguistics, the study of the relation between social variables and language use. Students look at the variety possible in language (phonology, lexis, syntax and morphology) and at the independent variables (age, gender, class, ethnicity, origin, and so on) that may affect the production of those varieties.

Research

For my PhD thesis I interviewed Japanese teachers of English in Japan about language teaching, the status of English in Japan and the world, and their relationships with their native English-speaking assistant teachers. I also spent time engaged in classroom observation in a Japanese junior high school. I used a qualitative discourse analytic approach to analyse the data, looking at how the teachers used language to both display their identities as Japanese teachers of English and to show their perceptions of the issues listed above.

My research interests are thus the fields of discourse analysis as a method of data analysis, and sociolinguistics, World Englishes and English as a Lingua Franca as content areas in which discourse analysis can be applied. I am interested in hearing from potential PhD students who want to do research in any of these areas.

I am currently the director of studies for Ms. Giulia Pepe’s doctoral dissertation, which focuses on young Italians living in London and their adoption and use of English terms in order to create a code which signals their identity.

Publications

For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.