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Our Projects
Belfast City Hall and surrounding streets at dusk
Soundscapes of the city
Creating a welcoming feeling of belonging in our communities

Dr Yecid Ortega is currently working on a research project that involves mapping the languages and cultures of the city. Using sound walking methodologies, he has recorded sounds, taken videos and photos to capture and amplify the diversity of the spaces we inhabit. The main goals of his project are 1) to theorize how the concepts of languages and cultures intersect and synergically co-exist, and 2) to build a sense of awareness of the vibrant cultures and languages thus creating a welcoming feeling of belonging in our communities. More details about this project.

Teaching with Diverse students and learners
Linguistically and culturally responsive teaching

The number of linguistically and culturally diverse students has been increasing steadily across UK, Ireland and EU. The shifting demographics mandate a closer look at the teaching  and teacher education practices across grade levels. Dr. Sultan Turkan is currently involved in three projects that ultimately aim to enhance understandings and practices in linguistically and culturally responsive teaching.

Dr. Turkan leads a project funded by the Standing Conference on Teacher Education, North and South (SCoTENS). The project aims to provide the preservice teachers the opportunity to engage English as an additional Language learners (EALs) in scientific classroom discussions by utilizing a virtual simulated teacher learning environment. In collaboration with colleagues from Queen’s SSESW and University College Dublin, we are examining the extent to which the simulated environment is useful and practical for teacher educators to adopt in their science teaching modules when teaching teacher candidates how to lead scientific classroom discussions with EALs. On a parallel line of inquiry into science classrooms, Turkan is simultaneously collaborating on a project that examines middle school EALs’ translanguaging practices in scientific modelling.


Dr Turkan is also actively involved in an EU-wide study that aims to contribute to enhanced understandings about teachers’ current practices with diverse learners across EU countries. Turkan is representing Ireland in the study in relation to primary level teachers’ views and attitudes towards bi/multilingualism and bi/multilingual children. Other participating countries are UK, Sweden, France, German, Israel, Norway, and Netherlands. Originally conceived by researchers at Karlstad University Sweden, the project team is interested in finding out what shifting demographics means for teachers’ day-to-day work at the primary level, and in documenting teachers’ views and ideas on bi/multilingualism.


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United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5
Gender-ing in ELT: International perspectives, practices, policies

Dr Aisling O'Boyle is part of an innovative research project titled "Gender-ing in ELT: International perspectives, practices, policies" which is examining the contribution of English language education to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The project takes place in 10 ODA countries (Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Morocco, Philippines, Ukraine and Vietnam), representing different geographical continents, ODA levels, language policies, and gender inclusion levels. Through the participation of key school stakeholders (pupils and parents, school leaders and teachers, university students and lecturers), the research aims to examine their perspectives and practices, raise their awareness of gender matters and foster their context-sensitive reflections on gender equality in ELT in these ODA countries.


Dr Vander Viana, Associate Professor in Education, at University of East Anglia and PI on the project said: “I am delighted to be working on this project alongside a large group of experts in the 10 partner countries as well as in the UK, such as my co-PI Dr Aisling O’Boyle from Queen’s University Belfast. Gender has been under-explored in English language education, and this is a unique chance to advance the boundaries of existing research, to trigger social change in a bottom-up, context-sensitive way and to support United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5.” The research is funded by the British Council through their Widening Participation Research Grants. The project counts on the participation of researchers based in ODA countries and with the support of international research associations.

One of the institutional supporters is the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP). Dr. Marie Paz Morales, the Chairperson on NRCP Division I in charge of Governmental, Educational, and International Policies said: “Integrating the gender perspective in English Language Teaching (ELT) in the Philippines may lead to significant policies that inform gender mainstreaming in the fields of education, governance and international policies the country advocates. As the pillar of the National Research Council of the Philippines is to promote research in the fields of education, governance, and international policies, studies on ‘gender-ing’ may spark initiatives from other sections and sectors of the Council, and may strengthen and further promote policies on gender sensitivity across fields and disciplines.”

Non-academic stakeholders have also been directly involved in the project from its inception. One example is the Education and Culture Office of Banten Province in Indonesia, which is responsible for organizing and managing early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, and community education affairs and the management of culture.

Teddy Hendra Pratama, Head of Division for Secondary School Affairs, said: “I unequivocally support Gender-ing ELT and strongly encourage an in-depth study on this topic, particularly in Indonesia. The outcome of this research project will help the government to continuously improve gender equality, and I believe it will result on the fast development of human resources at Banten Province.”

The project will run for 18 months – from April 2021 to September 2022 – and more information can be found on the project website: Gender-ing ELT - Groups and Centres - UEA by following its Twitter account Gender-ing ELT (@GenderingELT) / Twitter or by liking the project Facebook page: (20+) Gender-ing ELT: International perspectives, practices, policies | Facebook

The team can also be contacted by e-mail at

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The Graduate School front entrance
Languages Provision in FE
Investigating the trends in languages provision in the FE sector

Founding members, Ian Collen and Centre Director, Aisling O’Boyle are part of a unique research project investigating the trends in languages provision in the FE sector over the past 20 years in the UK. Funded by the British Academy, the project takes a partnership approach to the collation and assessment of evidence on languages provision (other than English) in Further Education (FE) in the UK. 


The team which also includes Leanne Henderson and Jennifer Roberts (SSESW) are engaged with key stakeholder groups and are conducting secondary data analysis and a UK-wide survey of FE staff and students. For further info, contact Principal Investigator:

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Heritage and Indigenous language education
Indigenous language documentation and reclamation

Indigenous languages are critically important to the health and wealth of human relations with the social and natural world. The vitality of Indigenous languages has been linked to phenomena such as academic achievement, public health outcomes, and ecological diversity. Dr Mel Engman has been involved in an ongoing Indigenous language maintenance and reclamation for many yearsSince 2016, Dr Engman has been part of a research team of multilingual Indigenous scholars from North America to examine what happens when an Indigenous language that has been reclaimed in schools (i.e., Ojibwemowin) returns to the land for intergenerational use.

Initially supported by the United States’ National Science Foundation grant no. 1664510, the "Forest Walks" project builds on learning sciences scholarship to better understand the role and nature of language in Indigenous youth-Elder groups in interaction on and with Indigenous land. Team members include Dr Mary Hermes (PI) (University of Minnesota), Dr Meixi (University of Minnesota), and James McKenzie (University of Arizona). Relying on multimodal analyses of point-of-view video and ethnomethodological and Indigenous thought traditions, this research illuminates the relational nature of language as ‘more than code’ and reimagines important related concepts such as learning, expertise, and agency. 

The  first article to come out of this work is here:  

Engman, M. M., & Hermes, M. (2021). Land as interlocutor: A study of Ojibwe learner language on and with naturally occurring ‘materials’. Modern Language Journal, 105(S1), 86-105. 

A webinar on the study’s methodology can be found on the link below: 

Engman, M. M., & Hermes, M. (2020). Land as interlocutor: Transcribing and analyzing material participation in interaction. Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA). 

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Revitalization of languages
Research project on the revitalization of indigenous languages

Dr Yecid Ortega is engaged in a research project on the revitalization of indigenous languages. Learning languages with the intention to understand cultures is the centre premise of trans[cultura]linguación (Ortega, 2019). Deploying a hybrid ethnographic approach (Przybylski, 2020) for online and in person data collection methods, this project explores the learning of the Quechua language for students in the diaspora and for Quechua speakers who want to revitalize the language. Data draws from interactions from an in person and online Language course from a community organization that promotes the learning of the Quechua language from a cultural-oriented approach to assert Quechua speakers’ identity but also to spark curiosity for learning Indigenous languages. This hybrid learning approach fosters as sense of community, wellbeing and the promotion and revitalization of Indigenous languages for social cohesion and human coexistence.

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Language Trends England, Northern Ireland and Wales
Languages Teaching in Primary and Secondary Schools

Dr Ian Collen is currently Principal Investigator on Language Trends England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Language Trends England is a large-scale three year longitudinal study of the health of languages teaching in primary and secondary schools, funded by the British Council. Ian’s research assesses the impact of policy measures in relation to languages, as well as analysing strengths and weaknesses based both on quantitative evidence and on views expressed by teachers.

The annual report has impact at the highest levels of government and is read widely by school leaders, school inspectors and policy makers. This year’s Trends Wales 2022 report has been covered in a number of national media outlets

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Community Cultures and Languages Mapping
This project maps out multimedia and multi-modal sounds and images of the languages and cultures of the city

Dr Yecid Ortega’s ongoing audio-visual project is connected with the concept of critical multiliteracies and community cultures and languages. Students, teachers, and community members record sounds that represent the complexity and multiple perspectives and experiences of people in the cities. Typically, sounds, stories or audio representations are described along with a photo/video that represents the location or specific geographical spaces. These are captured through a project called Community Cultures and Languages Mapping (CCLM) to contend that the spaces in the cities are community literacies and critical literacies (López,2020) in which cultures and languages are alive.

This project maps out multimedia and multi-modal sounds and images of the languages and cultures of the city as perceived by community members (students, teachers, and others). The main goal of this project is to build a sense of awareness of the vibrant cultures and languages and to create a welcoming feeling of belonging. It is the hope that with this project teachers engaged with students and communities to promote critical literacies units in the curriculum to embrace the complex and multiple perspectives of perceiving a plurilingual and pluricultural city. Using visual, sound ethnographic approaches (Berg, 2008; Blommaert & Jie, 2010; Faudree, 2012; Kheshti, 2009) and linguistic landscaping lens (Landry & Bourhis, 1997; Shohamy & Gorter, 2009)as a methodology , CCLM hopes to visibilize the languages and cultures to broaden and expand the notions of literacies and languages as experienced by the communities while serving as a platform for community reflection and understanding of the other. More information at:

If you would like to participate or send us your videos, audios or photos of multilingual and multicultural spaces in your city with a description on how you relate to those, please contact Dr. Ortega at

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Knowledge Creation
Academic productivity scheme for Indonesian universities

Building on previous work Academics Writing, Dr Ibrar Bhatt has completed a project examining the writing and knowledge creation practices of academics at Indonesian universities. 

The findings of this research form the basis of a new writing mentoring scheme for academics at Universitas Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa in Indonesia. Both the research and the new scheme, which commences in April 2021, focus on how knowledge is produced and disseminated through writing practices and how Indonesian academics, as multilingual academics in the global south, can respond to new requirements on their research productivity.

Digital data driven learning and teaching
Digital data driven learning and teaching: making best use of corpora for ELT

Dr Aisling O’Boyle (PI) has undertaken a review and case studies of the use of corpus linguistics in ELT. In the review she points out how the use of CL in ELT has the potential to contribute to a decentring agenda for ELT. The project team conducted practitioner interviews in Asia, Europe and South America, and developed a series of guides for learners, teachers, and teacher educators.

Supporting learners, teachers and teacher educators to improve their awareness of how language works is a key goal in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT) worldwide. From everyday conversations, to business meetings and academic lectures, access to all kinds of digital language data is now possible using a corpus. A corpus is a digital collection of textual examples created for the purposes of exploring how language is used (Sinclair, 2004). The millions of words and phrases in a corpus can be searched and retrieved instantly, using similar technical skills as those required by standard search engines. 

The benefits of using corpora in language teaching and learning have been well documented in the literature such as the provision of better quality language input for learners; the development of more accurate grammatical and vocabulary knowledge; and the design of more reliable teaching materials; the facilitation of students’ and teachers’ control over their own learning and teaching. Surprisingly, the potential of corpora in ELT remains largely untapped. The researchers undertook a systematic review of ELT corpus studies and conducted interviews with members of the ELT community in order to understand more fully how and why corpora are being used (or not) in ELT. The project team developed guides on how to use a corpus for learners, teachers, and teacher educators as well as a tool for evaluating corpus websites with a view to bridging the gap between corpus research and pedagogical practice in ELT.

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Covid-19 and Refugee Language Programmes
Impact of COVID on Community-based English language programmes for migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in NI.

Working in collaboration with a partner organization, Dr Aisling O’Boyle is investigating the support for social integration and language education of refugee and asylum-seekers in Northern Ireland using interview data from hard-to-reach groups/persons in positions of vulnerability. The community sector in NI has long provided free and non-formal language classes to meet the socially embedded communicative needs of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers (DfC, 2019; McNulty, 2019; Parizzia and McKeown, 2020). Having worked for decades to create ‘safe spaces’ where people in situations of vulnerability can have their social and educational needs met, community groups and volunteers have had to close and/or restrict access to such spaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has broken the vital links to social and educational programmes and access to informal social interaction which these spaces had been providing for people in situations of vulnerability and their families. Whilst formal learning may adapt somewhat readily to digital alternatives, non-formal online substitutions are not necessarily easy. 

Further questions are also emerging in relation to the safety and trustworthiness of a cyberspace alternative for refugees and asylum seekers (Palanac, 2020). The small-scale research has two modest aims: to begin gathering evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on pre-existing community programmes supporting the social integration and English language education of migrants, refugee and asylum-seekers; and to pilot feasibility and acceptability of online non-formal language support for migrants, refugee and asylum-seekers. 

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Grad School group shot
Critical discourse analysis: call centres
Experiences of bilingual education pre/in service teachers while working in a call centre

Using a critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1995), this research project led by Dr Yecid Ortega explores the experiences of bilingual education pre/in service teachers while working in a call centre. The lack of stable and well-paid jobs for many undergraduate students in Colombia has resulted in the ground emergence of work in English medium call centres. Language teachers are captivated by the conditions offered by various international companies that would like to hire them for their English language skills while paying them top money compared with what a regular teacher earns a month. These power relations deter students to continue their education as English teachers resulting in working for “easy” money at the call centre. A human capital (Becker, 1975; Fix, 2021) and the commodification of languages (Heller, 2010) concepts are used as entry points to explain the socioeconomic factors of this phenomena and the exploitation dynamics for the benefits of some.

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PHOTO: 69 University St
Sino-Muslim Literacies
Research Fellowship funded by the Leverhulme Trust

Dr Ibrar Bhatt is Principal Investigator on a Research Fellowship funded by the Leverhulme Trust. This Research Fellowship examines how Sino-Muslim religious, cultural and historical knowledge is produced and maintained through everyday and community literacy practices. The study is situated within the field of Literacy Studies and utilises interpretive approaches in linguistic ethnography to examine writing and reading as primarily a social and cultural practice. The study’s focus is on the everyday and ‘local’ literacies of modern Sino-Muslims and, therefore, brings together two areas of research for the first time: Literacy Studies and Hui Studies. Read more here: [and in Chinese here:中文/]

English Language Learning
Welcome Dictionary: refugee families using dictionary resources to support English language learning

Funded by the A S Hornby Trust this project investigates the use of bilingual dictionaries and associated digital lexicographic resources by refugee families in NI. Collecting survey and family interview data, Dr Aisling O’Boyle investigates how, as families move into local communities, they use bilingual dictionaries and associated digital lexicographic resources. Understanding their preferencespractices and problems of dictionary use will inform approaches to learner and teacher training in the use of a bilingual dictionary


The recommendations produced as a result of this research will have a significant and direct impact on learners, teachers and volunteers in community contexts. But the NI context is one of many across the world in which communities are supporting refugee families with diverse language learning needs, often with very limited resources. Insights gained from this research therefore have the potential to be far-reaching, providing evidence to inform not only training in the use of dictionaries and other lexicographic resources, but also the potential to develop innovative and no/low cost resources to help and enhance language learning for refugee families.

You can read more at: O'Boyle, A. (2023). A Welcome Dictionary: refugee families using dictionary resources to support English Language Learning -: A Report on A S Hornby Dictionary Research Award Project. A. S. Hornby Educational Trust.

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Digital Literacies
A Rapid Review of Digital Feedback Literacy in Higher Education

Dr Sin Wang Chong and the research team of Phillip Dawson, Talia Isaacs, Hayo Reinders, Cecilia Chan, Kelvin Tan, Edd Pitt, Wei Wei, Jessica To, James Wood and Amy Wong are carrying out this rapid review of Digital Literacies in Higher Education.

Building on the notions of student and teacher feedback literacy (Carless & Boud, 2019; Carless & Winstone, 2020), technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) (Mishra & Keohler, 2006), and digital literacies (Martin & Grudziecki, 2006), digital feedback literacy refers to students’ capacities to engage with assessment feedback delivered via the medium of digital technologies and teachers’ capacities to design technology-mediated assessment feedback which facilitates students’ engagement. Three domains of digital feedback literacy will be examined: the practice domain, the theory domain, and the philosophy domain (DeLuca & Klinger, 2010).

Methodological Review
A Methodological Review of Systematic Literature Reviews and Scoping Reviews in Higher Education

The impetus for this review by Dr Sin Wang Chong and colleagues Yulu Chen, Tin Jun Lin, is to consider whether research synthesis guidelines from other fields are suitable for higher education and to initiate a methodological dialogue on doing research synthesis by providing higher education researchers with an evidence-based, field-specific methodological framework. Adhering to the exploratory nature of this study, this paper reports on a scoping review which analyses two types of research synthesis (systematic reviews and scoping reviews) published in 16 top-tiered international journals in higher education (n=160). Through qualitative research synthesis using thematic analysis, a bottom-up methodological framework comprising six stages and 20 steps is developed. A handy checklist for conducting and evaluating systematic and scoping reviews in higher education is created.

Computer-Assisted Language Learning
Development of a Design Framework for Language Massive Open Online Courses (LMOOCs)

Recently, there has been a growing number of Language MOOCs being developed around the world. Nevertheless, there is a dearth of research on learners’ perceptions of Language MOOCs and their efficacy, and an absence of a research-informed design framework to guide the development of such MOOCs. The shift in language learning and teaching online and the increasing reliance on online self-study language learning resources during the pandemic has provided the impetus for analysing features of existing Language MOOCs. Employing the model of web-based design for learning by Hall, Watkins, and Eller (2013), features of 100 Language MOOCs on two most popular MOOC platforms, edX and Coursera, are analysed with reference to seven components: directionality, usability, consistency, interactivity, multimodality, adaptability, and accountability. Preliminary findings of this analysis will be presented and a framework which aims to guide the development of Language MOOCs will be proposed. An example of Language MOOC in progress which utilises the design framework will be shared by the research team which includes Dr Sin Wang Chong.

Dr Chong's recent presentation explains this research more fully.


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Assessment Feedback and Feedback Literacy
Feedback literacy and written corrective feedback: An ecological and sociomaterial turn

Research on written corrective feedback (WCF) has received sustained interest in the field of second language acquisition and language education. This viewpoint article extends the theoretical discussion on WCF research by introducing the notions of “feedback literacy” and “feedback ecology” informed by ecological systems theory, actor-network theory, and complexity theories. In this research, Dr Sin Wang Chong first reviews three strands of WCF research. Then, he argues for the need to shift our focus of investigation from feedback information (focusing on effect), to feedback process (focusing on perception), to feedback ecology (focusing on engagement and influences on engagement). Putting forward a “feedback ecology” conceptual framework, Dr Sin Wang Chong suggests three research tasks for future WCF studies, including examining “retold stories”, “reflective stories”, and “meta-stories” within feedback ecologies.

Dr Chong's recent presentation at Swansea University explains this research more fully.


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Research Synthesis
Research Synthesis in TESOL and Applied Linguistics

Dr Sin Wang Chong is Principal Investigator on the project “Primer on Qualitative Research Synthesis in TESOL” with Co-I: Dr Luke Plonsky. Secondary research in the form of literature reviews facilitates consolidation and transfer of knowledge. In the field of TESOL, the majority of secondary research is conducted in the form of narrative reviews, which rely on the author’s selection and interpretation of primary studies and findings. Systematic reviews, which can be broadly categorized into meta-analysis (focusing on quantitative data) and qualitative research synthesis (focusing on qualitative data), are gaining popularity (see Plonsky, 2017) but are still less common. In particular, qualitative data collected from language classrooms, which are often criticized because of their lack of generalizability, are seldom synthesized in a systematic fashion. Against this backdrop, the research team attempt to make a case for conducting qualitative research synthesis in the field of TESOL. Second, we will provide a methodological framework and an example of how qualitative research synthesis can be conducted. We close with recommendations to promote qualitative research synthesis in the field of TESOL.  

A Typology of Research Synthesis in Applied Linguistics, led by PI Dr Sin Wang Chong and Co-I: Dr Luke Plonsky.

Taxonomies of research synthesis are developed in different research fields to standardise naming and methodological conventions but not yet in Applied Linguistics and TESOL. Using a four-dimensional analytical framework, features of 14 types of research synthesis in Applied Linguistics and TESOL will be presented namely bibliometric review, critical review, historical review, meta-analysis, methodological synthesis, mixed review, narrative review, overview, qualitative research synthesis, research agenda, research into practice, scoping review, state-of-the-art review, and systematic literature review. Accompanying the typology, four continua of research synthesis in Applied Linguistics and TESOL are identified: the “research-/practice-focused” continuum, the “more/less systematic” continuum, the “more/less standardised structure” continuum, and the “multimodal/monomodal text” continuum. The notion of “evidence ecosystem” will be introduced to examine ways to improving research synthesis practices in our field.

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Business venture fostering plurilingualism
PDF activities to foster plurilingualism and making building activities experiences away from the computer screen

Dr Caroline Linse is leading on an entrepreneurial business venture supported by QUB and consists of fun activities and other web-based resources called Handy-Crafts.  Handy-Crafts is an entrepreneurial business venture supported by QUB and will consists of PDF activities to foster plurilingualism and making building activities experiences away from the computer screen. The overall experience being conducted in a ‘handy language’. 

A ‘handy language’ is the language that a learner has a connection with such as heritage language, immersion school language, or a language spoken by neighbours and community members etc Handy-Crafts activities are designed to help children to make, create, or craft something personally meaningful such as food recipes, pop-up greeting cards, soap, candles, race courses, flip books, kites. Clear richly illustrated instructions are provided which make the key language, straightforward easy for learners to follow along.  For more information see

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