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Language.Culture.Matters Seminar Series

Convenors: Clay Becker, Yvette Wang, Ngoc Luu

When: Every Wednesday,16:00-17:00 (UK time) during term time

Where: Click here to join the meetingLink opens in a new window + the in-person site will mainly be A0.23; Only on 21 Feb, it will be S0.11.

23/24 Term2
17.01.2024, 16:00 - 17:00

“Day school teachers do not talk about this, do they?”: How private tutors claim expertise in shadow education

Vincent Wai Sum Tse Monash University & University of Warwick


Despite the pervasiveness of shadow education, it has received little attention in sociolinguistics and discourse analysis. This study uses critical epistemic discourse analysis (van Dijk, 2011) as a broad framework to examine the discursive and interactional behaviour of private tutors in Hong Kong’s highly commercialized shadow education. Drawing on 50+ teaching demonstrations from a tutoring talent show, I examine how tutors teaching various subjects claim expertise vis-à-vis other stakeholders of shadow education (e.g., students and schoolteachers), and what expert roles they enact for themselves in and through this process. This study illuminates the professional practice of tutors against the backdrop of the demands for accountability and performativity in education, especially in shadow education where tutors overtly claim expertise in achieving examination success and compete for students-customers.


Vincent Wai Sum TSE is a joint PhD candidate at Monash University, Australia, and The University of Warwick, UK. He received his BA and MPhil from The University of Hong Kong. His research interests lie in language and the market, professional discourse, and digital discourse. His research can be found in journals such as Linguistic Landscape, Discourse & Society, and Pragmatics and Society.

24.01.2024,16:00 - 17:00

Authenticity, identity, and emotions in corporate crisis apologies and social media responses

Viola Yan & Dr Sophie Reissner-Roubicek, University of Warwick


The role of authenticity in perceptions of corporate social responsibility has recently come under scrutiny (Afzali & Kim, 2021), but its role in crisis apologies, in connection with the relationship between perceived authenticity and public emotions in response to those apologies, has been overlooked. This presentation reports on the qualitative part of a mixed-methods study that addresses this gap. As well as testing the relationship between perceived authenticity and public emotions, the study takes a social constructionist approach to explore the authenticity-related strategies used to construct identities in corporate apologies. This answers the call for discursive approaches to be used more in the field of crisis communication and shows what these can offer when combined with better-known approaches based on the pragmatics of apology.

Apologies were selected from companies who had recent crises of similar types that attracted a large number of comments on Weibo (JNBY in 2021) and on Twitter (Balenciaga in 2022). The findings from the discursive analysis, which draws on Bucholtz and Hall’s (2005) indexicality principle and Bamberg’s (2003) identity dilemmas, are put in context with summarised findings from the Chinese and English questionnaires and from the comments analysis, which drew on Choi & Lin’s (2009) taxonomy of emotions seen in public responses to crisis communication. Emotions are strongly linked to attribution of responsibility in a crisis (Coombs, 2007) and are influenced by the perceived authenticity of the apology, meaning the discursive findings about apologies and the construction of corporate identity could offer useful implications for crisis practitioners.


Viola Yan graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and International Trade from Hefei University of Technology in China and recently completed her MSc in Intercultural Communication for Business and the Professions at the University of Warwick, which ignited her interest in the field of crisis communication and inspired her to design a mixed-methods study to address a gap in the literature concerning the links between authenticity, identity, and emotions. She is currently doing an internship in the marketing department of an international company and will subsequently join

Dr Sophie Reissner-Roubicek is an Associate Professor (Teaching-Focused) in Applied Linguistics at the University of Warwick, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and currently Programme Leader on the MSc in Intercultural Communication for Business and the Professions. Her research interests and publications lie in the general areas of professional communication and intercultural training, offering insights from discourse analysis for practitioners in related fields.

31.01.23, 16:00 - 17:00

The meaning of 'mostly' in couples accounts of how they share housework and childcare

Dr Emily Christopher, Aston University


Drawing on data from qualitative interviews with working parent, heterosexual couples on their domestic division of labour, using the interactive methodology of the ‘household portrait', this talk will examine how couples discuss their own and partners contributions to housework and childcare tasks. Disagreements over contributions to tasks were largely the result of a disparity between partners’ individual understandings of what it means to ‘mostly’ undertake a task. In this talk I discuss differences in the criteria partners use to assess their contributions and how these embody gendered perceptions of the meaning of carrying out domestic tasks and the appropriate temporal frame for evaluating individual contributions. In doing so I show the importance of adopting data collection techniques that not only measure input, such as tasks and time allocations, but also make it possible to explore the construction of such measures and their connections to the establishment of gender divisions of labour within households.


Emily is a Lecturer in Sociology at Aston University. Her research primarily focuses on the reproduction of gendered inequalities in paid and unpaid work, with a particular interest in developing innovative methods which take account of how domestic labour is conceptualised and measured. Her research has explored how UK state policy is mediated through workplace policies and cultures across public and private sectors and the ways in which these influence couples’ negotiations of domestic divisions of labour and the reproduction of gendered inequalities. Among other projects she is currently conducting research which explores how involvement in different housework and childcare tasks may affect the likelihood of relationship dissolution between co-resident partners.

07.02.24, 16:00-17:00

Exploring narratives of serial migrants

Marianna Patrick, University of Warwick


This talk will look at how ‘place’ – understood here as a location with meaning (Cresswell, 2008) – can be used as a resource for discursive identity construction in narratives (Van De Mieroop, 2021). I focus on narratives told in one-on-one research interviews by serial migrants – middling migrants who moved voluntarily and have lived in at least three different countries consecutively (Ossman, 2013). In sociolinguistics, relatively little attention has been given to the negotiability of ‘place’ in narratives of migrants (e.g. Baynham, 2009; De Fina, 2003). Addressing this gap, I will illustrate how the serial migrants in my study construct their identities by making certain places relevant, (co)constructing their meanings and positioning them in narratives.


Marianna is a PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant at the Department of Applied Linguistics at the University of Warwick. Her research interests lie in the areas of migrant identities, mobility, place, and storytelling. Her interest in the topic stems from her own experiences living, working, and studying in different countries throughout her life. She holds an MA in Global Communication from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a BA (Hons) in Politics and International Studies from Warwick University.

14.02.24, 16:00 - 17:00

Improving academic writing through an engagement with the philosophy of science

Dr Karin Zotzmann, University of Southampton


Doing a PhD means learning to do and to write about research. The importance of the latter skill set is, however, often underestimated. Issues students struggle with can occur at different levels and institutional support, e.g., through writing centres, therefore, varies greatly, as well. Traditional support often focuses either on sentence level issues—for example syntax, terminology, and register, —on the level of structure or genre—for example on how to write a research article or the literature review of a thesis—or on discipline specific conventions.

In this presentation I report on an innovative workshop series that combines hands-on pedagogic activities with an engagement with the philosophy of science. Approaching academic writing from a meta-theoretic level allows novice researchers, I will argue, to step back from taken-for-granted assumptions about how to write and think about research and to amplify their rhetorical and discursive repertoire. Topics include, for instance, how certainty and caution can be conveyed (epistemology), how we position ourselves in relation to current academic debates in the literature review (positionality), what kind of properties and powers we assume different entities in the natural and social world to have (ontology), and how to represent causality (explanation).


Dr. Karin Zotzmann is an associate professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Southampton and has previously worked in the same area at different public and private universities in Mexico and at the Institute of Education, University of London (UK), She has supervised over thirty PhD students, acted as an examiner in numerous PhD viva at other universities and was the Director of Doctoral Programmes (2020-2023) at the Department of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics at Southampton where on average 150 PhD students are enrolled.

21.02.24, 16:00 - 17:00

Language education in the post-truth era
Dr Hild Elisabeth Hoff, University of Bergen


This seminar talk will focus on “post-truth” as part of 21st century social conditions and as a context for teaching and learning English today. Post-truth discourse has come to be associated with misinformation and the rejection of scientific expertise, in addition to absolutist views and political polarisation. The English language classroom is a pertinent arena for responding to these conditions, due to the immense potentials for developing critical literacies and democratic citizenship which reside in investigations of language use and textual practices in intercultural contexts. In this talk, I aim to concretise some of the implications this may have for educators, focusing on exploration as a central aspect of post-truth pedagogies and drawing on an example from my own experience teaching and supervising student teachers of English in Norway. As such, the talk will be relevant for teacher educators as well as practitioners in language education who wish to address post-truth topics explicitly with their students or to deal with such topics more implicitly by instigating learning activities which can enhance the students’ ability to navigate the multiple truths, persuasive messages and complex social relations of today’s world.


Hild Elisabeth Hoff(PhD) is Associate Professor of English language pedagogies at the University of Bergen (Norway), where she teaches and supervises student teachers of English and doctoral students. Hoff’s primary research interest is the intercultural dimension of language teaching and learning. Her work explores key concepts like intercultural competence, Bildung, literacy and text in a context of 21st century societal and educational challenges and opportunities. Hoff co-coordinates the international research group POTENT (Post-Truth English Teaching) and is one of the co-editors of a forthcoming anthology about English language education in the post-truth era, to be published by Routledge in 2025.

28.02.2024, 16:00 - 17:00

The development of syntactic complexity of the noun phrase in learner English: a corpus-based research study
Pamela Saavedra-Jeldres, University of Warwick


The development of syntactic complexity in English learner writing has been given much attention in the last two decades, and different fine-grained indexes have been created to assess such development. This study, based on a learner corpus collected in Chile, focuses on the development of the noun phrase (NP) and adopts the subset of phrasal modification from the hypothesised framework of developmental progression proposed by Biber, Gray and Poonpon (2011). It complements the analysis with the exploration of structural patterns of noun modification and the meanings expressed by these patterns, as suggested by Bychkovska (2021) and Diez-Bedmar & Pérez-Paredes (2020).

In this presentation, I will go through some of the main findings of my PhD thesis. I will start by introducing the learner corpus I collected and compiled for this study – the CELTEC. Then I will discuss how the contributors for the corpus – English language pre-service teachers in Chile – show increasing use of NP modification across cohorts (group years), from a frequency-based, structural, and semantic perspective. The presentation will conclude by emphasising on the necessity to link the findings from research studies and the EAP and EFL classrooms to inform practice, materials-development, and curriculum development. A few proposed exercises and strategies will be provided.


Pamela Saavedra Jeldres, is in the last stages of her PhD from the Department of Applied Linguistics at the University of Warwick. Her primary research interest is in the developmental trajectories of language learner in L2 English writing. Her published research has dealt with L2 writing, syntactic complexity, ELT, writing portfolios, teacher education, and reflection awareness and enhancement in teacher education. Pamela will continue with her work on learner corpus research and syntactic complexity in her home country, Chile, where she will expand her corpus, by including more controlled variables and more learners.


06.03.2024, 16:00 - 17:00

Exploring language use in a Formula 1 team during live racing events: a project overview
Dr Kieran File, University of Warwick



See our previous seminars here: