The University of Reading has recently established a new cross-disciplinary research centre of excellence, the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism. This has created a distinctive research presence at Reading, drawing on the considerable existing strengths and research profiles in second-language acquisition, literacy, and multilingualism in English Language/Applied Linguistics, the Institute of Education, and Clinical Language Sciences.
The Centre encompasses research in first (L1) and second (L2) language learning in schools, including testing, assessment and language attrition in L1 and L2; literacy in multilingual populations, with a special focus on induction into HE; multilingualism in atypical population; and neurolinguistic approaches to literacy and bilingualism. The Centre is active in outreach to overseas scholars, running international conferences and summer schools. It also runs a specialised postgraduate research student strand.
To this end the Academic Investment Programme has recently appointed four new academic posts in the new Centre.
Dr Panos Athanasopoulos
Dr Athanasopoulos (formerly at Newcastle University) is an expert in multilingualism, specializing in conceptual representation. His work opened up the field of linguistic relativity approaches to multilingual cognition, explored in a variety of language domains such as colour terms, grammatical number, numeral classifiers, grammatical gender, and grammatical aspect. He has studied multilinguals with different language constellations, including, Greek, English, Japanese, Afrikaans, Xhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Swedish, German, Spanish, French. His research has been funded by the ESRC, the European Science Foundation, and the Swedish Research Council. At Reading he sits on the Steering Committee of the newly established Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism. His current projects investigate language-specific spatial interference in time estimations, and the role of verbal interference in bilingual event categorisation.
Professor Jason Rothman
Professor Rothman is an expert on formal linguistic and pycholinguistic approaches to language acquisition. He has published work on the acquisition of many languages acquired as a first (L1), second (L2) or more (L3, Ln) in childhood and adulthood, with particular interest in understanding how data from adult and child acquisition contexts can reveal the links between language and cognition and inform theoretical proposals about the mental constitution of linguistic representation and the mind more generally. He is perhaps best known for his work on adult multilingual transfer and its links to cognitive economy as well as his work on the acquisition of heritage (minority) language bilingualism and his claim that differences compared to monolinguals in these populations reflect the dynamic nature of their realities as opposed to a deficit viewpoint. He is co-executive editor of the journal Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism (John Benjamins Publishing) and sits on the editorial board of several other leading journals in the field language acquisition.
Professor Ianthi Tsimpli
Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli is a linguist specializing on language development in children and adults with typical and atypical traits. She obtained a BA in Greek Philology from the University of Athens in 1986, a Diploma (1988) and a PhD in Linguistics (1992) from University College London. She then lectured at the Dept. of English Studies of the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1992-1995) and at the Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge. Ianthi has extensively worked on the case of Christopher, a polyglot-savant, with Neil Smith with whom she co-authored two books The Mind of a Savant: Language Learning and Modularity (1995, Blackwell) and Signs of a Savant (2010, CUP – also co-authored with Gary Morgan and Bencie Woll) and a number of articles in international journals. She currently holds a joint post between the Dept. of Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading and the Dept. of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Dr Claire Wright
Dr Clare Wright is an expert in multilingual acquisition, with a particular focus on learning processes involved in building grammatical knowledge and oral fluency. Clare's first degree was an MA in History at Cambridge, which led to a varied career in politics and marketing until retraining in English language teaching in 1997. She taught English for Academic Purposes at Brunel, Durham and Newcastle Universities before gaining an MA and PhD in Linguistics at Newcastle; her ESRC-funded doctoral studies focused on the role of working memory in language learning. Clare joins Reading after Newcastle University where she was Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Linguistics and Language Sciences, Director of the MA programme in Applied Linguistics and TESOL. She is currently leading innovative research into how to build up fluency in Mandarin, as well as how to improve internationalisation of higher education. She is also a long-standing contributor to teacher-training initiatives on how the language classroom can be made more effective, from primary to tertiary settings, and her work is regularly featured in high-impact international journals such as TESOL Quarterly.