Centre for Language Research at Aston (CLaRA)

Investigating communication, discourse and culture and their impact on language and language education. 

About

CLaRA (Centre for Language Research at Aston) is an interdisciplinary, multilingual group of researchers – academic staff and research students – who work in the field of language and language education research. The main aim of CLaRA is to build on Aston’s longstanding expertise in research into language education, modern foreign languages, applied and sociolinguistics by promoting interdisciplinary collaboration and establishing national and international networks and partnerships. 

  • Research into languages and cultures 

  • Translating cultures 

  • Multilingualism and language contact 

  • Language policy 

  • First and second language learning and teaching 

  • Language teacher education 

  • Language education for professional and intercultural communication 

  • Corpus Linguistics 

Sub-groups  

Multilingualism and Translation  

In an increasingly globalised world it has become the norm rather than the exception for people to speak more than one language or, in other words, to have access to a multilingual repertoire. As researchers, we are looking at linguistic practices of multilingual speakers; we analyse the way they go about their daily communicative activities by speaking and writing their languages. Our research interests and expertise include translation studies, language contact and the study of immigrant and minority languages. 

Group Members: 

Corpora and Corpus Linguistics Group 

The CLaRA Corpus Linguistics sub-group brings together academics working in the field of language and education research who have an interest in applying the methods of Corpus Linguistics to either teaching, research or both. Our activities include the creation and analysis of new corpora, applications of corpus linguistics for discourse and critical discourse analysis,creating spoken corpora, and using the methods of Corpus Linguistics in the language classroom. We promote collaboration between colleagues in order to develop new corpora and new studies based on the analysis of those corpora and have particular expertise in the field of spoken corpora. 

Group Members: 

Language Education Group 

The Language Education group brings together staff who are actively involved in and researching the area of language learning and teaching. Areas of specific interest include the learning and teaching of languages, language teacher education, language policy and planning, and language education for professional and intercultural communication.  Members of the group come from both Languages and Translation Studies and English, and so include specialists in Modern Foreign Languages and English in all its guises (first, second, foreign, additional and so on). 

Examples of current projects include: 

TEMPUS: Developing blended learning masters’ programmes for trainee teachers in Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan 

Action Research with language teachers 

Pedagogical stylistics 

Classroom discourse of non-native speaker teachers of English 

Native English Speaker Schemes around the world 

Linguistics and Knowledge about Language in Education can be found at: https://baallkale.wordpress.com 

Group Members:

 Projects

TEMPUS Project

Developing the Teaching of European Languages: Modernising Language Teaching through the Development of Blended Masters Programmes - DeTEL (2013-2016) 

This 3-year project focuses on improving the learning and teaching of European languages in Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan (PCs).  There are 11 project partners, four from Russia, two from Uzbekistan, two from Ukraine and one each from the UK, France and Germany. The central activity is the development of a blended master’s programme for current and prospective teachers of European languages (English, French and German), which will introduce innovative learner-centred methodologies, tuned to EU standards but with a close eye on the needs of the local context where appropriate. The project will be a based on collaborative development and initial delivery of the MA with a gradual handover to trainers in PCs, making delivery fully sustainable beyond the life of the project. 

More information: https://www2.aston.ac.uk/lss/research/lss-research/clara-home/clara-research-projects/tempus-project

Investigating NEST schemes

This joint project between Aston University and University of Warwick is sponsored by the British Council as part of its English Language Teaching Research partnership Scheme. 

Project Summary 

Despite a strong focus in recent years on the value of NNESTs (non-native English speaking teachers) and the essential contribution they make to language learning, many governments still seek out and employ NESTs (native English speaking teachers) to participate in learning and teaching in state schools, colleges and universities throughout the world. The hiring of NESTs may be through national schemes such as NET in Hong Kong, or through NGOs such as VSO.  While previous research has examined practices on individual programmes, to date there is no global overview of how they operate and the experiences of both NESTs and NNESTs taking part. What is more, there is a lack of widely available resources to support those considering or preparing for such schemes. 

This project will bring together an international team of partners to investigate NEST schemes around the world. Detailed information will be collected through document analysis, interviews with NESTs and NNESTs and classroom observations. This information will be used to prepare an audit document which will give details about the schemes, and which will be of value to both policymakers and teachers. Importantly, classroom and interview data will be used in the preparation of training resources to support both teachers and teacher trainers. A final preliminary report will also be produced. 

More information: https://www2.aston.ac.uk/lss/research/lss-research/clara-home/clara-research-projects/nest-schemes-project