Research Fellow - Language Learning

Страна: Великобритания;

Дедлайн: 02.06.2019



Job Purpose

The College of Arts & Law is seeking to appoint a postdoctoral Research Fellow in Language Learning. The Fellow will create and contribute to the creation of knowledge by undertaking a specified range of activities within a Leverhulme-funded project that aims to develop new ways of describing what speakers know about their language to make learning foreign languages easier. The project is led by Prof Dagmar Divjak in collaboration with Dr Petar Milin. More information about the project is available on 

Over five years, the award from the Leverhulme Trust will allow us to develop new, accurate ways of describing speakers’ linguistic knowledge, by combining experimentation with computational simulations that mimic the way in which humans learn. The patterns we find will tested on adult foreign language learners to see if such patterns can provide a more natural and efficient foreign language learning experience. The aim is to lead a step-change in research on language and language learning by capturing the linguistic knowledge adult speakers build up when they are exposed to a language in natural settings. These insights will help with the development of strategic language teaching materials to transform the way in which we teach foreign languages. 

The postholder will work within the Out of Our Minds team to achieve the project goals, lead on data collection and analysis, analyse, interpret and disseminate research findings and results, for general and specialist audiences, and contribute to writing follow-on bids. 

The postholder will work on the language learning research strand within an interdisciplinary research team, consisting of linguists, psychologists and computational modellers. The post holder will work closely with the project leads, Professor Dagmar Divjak and Dr Petar Milin, to undertake research into second language learning. The will investigate the effects of teaching adults a second language using cognitively plausible language abstractions; these abstractions are obtained using computational simulations with learning algorithms, the results of which are informed by or tested through experimentation in lab settings. 

The post holder will be expected to engage in all aspects of study design, data collection and analysis; in result dissemination (publications, workshops, conferences); in team meetings and international networking activities; in external engagement and social media work. This role will be based in Birmingham, but it will involve international travel for extended periods (a number of weeks) to conduct data collection in Poland. 

Person Specification 

  • Hold, or be close to completion of, a PhD in English Language & Linguistics, with at least an MA specializing in Teaching English as a Foreign Language 
  • Demonstrable research experience in linguistic analysis and corpus linguistic as well as psycholinguistic techniques. 
  • A demonstrably thorough working knowledge of a range of statistical techniques for analysing experimental data (e.g. regression techniques). 
  • Experience working with a Slavonic language, and/or willingness to learn Polish. 
  • Have a track record of publications appropriate to stage of career
  • Lead author on at least one research publications in a peer reviewed journal. 
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, in English (CEFR level C2 is required for non-native speakers) 
  • Demonstrable ability to communicate complex information clearly 
  • Experience of disseminating academic research through presentation and publication, including the ability to communicate research to non-specialists. 
  • Demonstrably excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to liaise effectively with colleagues and external stakeholders 
  • Ability to work as an effective member of a team, to support the work of colleagues, aligning the day-to-day work and goals of the team. 
  • Proven ability to co-ordinate own work with others to avoid conflict or duplication of effort 
  • Experience of motivating and supporting junior team members 
  • Ability to analyse and solve problems creatively with an appreciation of longer-term implications 
  • Ability to assess resource requirements and use resources effectively 
  • Experience of adapting own skills to new circumstances 
  • Willingness to travel and be away from home for extended periods (up to 6 weeks) to collect data 
  • Ability to contribute to the planning and organising of the research programme and/or specific research project