ETAL research projects

We have ongoing research projects in our various fields of interest.

Current research projects

Dr Joan Cutting is involved in the following projects:

Second-language Competency for Technicians in Industry (Lang2Tech) LEONARDO DA VINCI Transfer of Innovation, European Commission

2012-14 Partners: from Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Scotland and Spain. Research shows that across Europe, technician workforce supply is not aligned with locations of increasing demand for skilled technicians, as evidenced for example in national shortage occupation lists. The most significant constraint on these technicians’ occupational mobility is absence of second-language competency. This derives from lack of opportunity or incentive for language-learning in technicians' education, training and work socialisation. Objective 3.3 of the Education and Training 2010 Work Programme deemed foreign language provision in Europe inadequate and called for new methodologies. Lang2Tech's response will be to adapt and transfer, for technicians' use within the Open Source Mahara e-portfolio system, the e-portfolio tool from the Leonardo project European Certificate of Basic Skills (EUCEBS). Lang2Tech is predicated on a key notion: that demonstrating basic skills through the medium of a second language is proof of successful communication in that language.

Corpus analysis of written feedback given by tutors and classroom teachers to students on school placement, seed-corn funding from the School of EducationTitle

 2013 Partner: George Hunt, ETL, Moray House. The written feedback students receive while on placement looms very large in their personal and professional lives, and is a powerful factor in how they see themselves and how they subsequently interact with the children in their care. It is also one of the most ‘high stakes’ and anxiety inducing aspects of the jobs of tutors and host-teachers. The project aims to identify patterns of language at the levels of lexis, syntax and discourse, used by tutors and teachers in the written feedback they provide to students on school placement; to investigate how these patterns relate to currents rhetorics of pedagogy and of educational policy at institute and national levels; to establish a database of analysable discourse that might be used as a source for subsequent inquiries in the fields of both corpus analysis research and more open-ended qualitative research, perhaps involving students themselves.  

‘Dingsbums and dong dong: vague language across cultures’, seed-corn funding from the School of Education

2013 Vague language (e.g. thing, stuff, and all that) in English-speaking countries has many functions but research suggests that it mainly creates an informal and relaxed atmosphere, and shows closeness and solidarity. A pilot study of vague language in other cultures has revealed that it has different associations, such as ‘it’s used by less educated people’ and ‘that’s how young people talk’. If EFL learners can understand English vague language and have the option to use it, it might enhance their intercultural understanding and help to achieve their social objectives when talking to speakers of English. I would like to survey how speakers of German, Japanese, Mandarin and Swedish perceive vague language forms and functions in their own languages, in order to be able to pass on to EFL learners with these mother tongues the differences, if any, between vague language in their language and English vague language. I would ultimately pass on my findings to MSc TESOL students so that they can discuss the applications in their classrooms.

Dr Yvonne Foley is involved in the following research projects:

Exploring the language and literacy needs of EAL pupils across international contexts

Received Seedcorn funding for an international research project in the United States with Professor Candace Harper. 

Examining EAL policy and practice in mainstream schools

Received funding for a longitudinal study with Dr Pauline Sangster and Dr Charles Anderson. 

The first publication linked to this longitudinal study can be found at:

Dr Bróna Murphy

Exploring Identities in Muslim Women Discourse

British Academy Funding 2010-2012

Exploring Male Talk - The intimate world of male friends

Seedcorn Funding Grant 2011