Current research

Photo by Zorlu Tuna Koç, Unsplash

My current research examines English academic vocabulary (its use and testing) and writing assessment. These seemingly disparate topics are unified by my interest in language learning, teaching and assessment.

English academic vocabulary

My current focus is on English academic vocabulary with a view to inform English for Academic Purposes (EAP) instruction. This research focus is motivated by these facts: a) academic vocabulary knowledge has been found to predict performance in academic tasks (e.g., essays, presentations) and in overall performance at university (i.e., grade point averages) and b) English academic vocabulary learning and use is perceived as a challenge by students at English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) universities and can be challenging for native speakers as well.

Validating a test of polysemous English academic words

This project validates a test of polysemous English academic words that I designed with Dr Bojana Petric (Birkbeck, University of London). The validation of the test is done at universities in the UK and China. I am the PI and collaborators are Dr Bojana Petric, Dr Reka Jablonkai (University of Bath), Dr Niall Curry (Coventry University), Mr Weizhong Wu (Beihang University) (, and Ms Jia Ning (Shenyang University of Technology). This project was partly funded by the Education Strategy Fund and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities scheme of the University of Essex, in recognition of the potential this research has for EAP teaching.

Meanings of polysemous academic words in academic vs everyday language

In addition to technical meanings and meanings that are shared across academic disciplines, academic words have meanings used in everyday life too. My other current project on English academic vocabulary examines which meanings of a sample of polysemous words occur/dominate in specific disciplines and which in general English.

Coherence in the eyes of EFL teachers

My earlier research on coherence error identification with the help of linguistic theories of coherence (e.g., Skoufaki, 2020) has led to a new research interest: I have recently examined teachers’ conceptualisations of coherence in writing and how they go about providing feedback and marking EFL learners’ writing for coherence. EFL teachers located coherence errors in paragraphs written by low-intermediate EFL learners and gave each of them a mark for coherence. They were also interviewed about what ‘coherence’ means to them and asked to comment on some of the feedback and marking in the aforementioned task.