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Dr. Ellen Smith-Dennis

Job Title
Associate Professor Reader
Applied Linguistics
Research Interests

My research expertise is in language documentation; grammatical description; typology; language contact and change; and language maintenance and endangerment. I have carried out fieldwork in urban home and school settings in the U.K. and Italy, and in an extremely remote community setting in Papua New Guinea, where I lived for a year. With the original language data I've collected, and using mostly qualitative methods, I've documented and written a reference grammar of an endangered Oceanic language, and published research in the areas of language endangerment, descriptive linguistics and typology, and contact-induced language change. I've also investigated bilingual child language acquisition, 'English as a second language' acquisition, and sociophonetic variation. I am currently working on several research publications, including co-editing a volume (approx. 1000pp.), The Languages and Linguistics of Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific (De Gruyter Mouton). Impact and engagement are extremely important to me, and I am a Warwick Institute of Engagement Fellow. I am committed to using language-based research projects to promote social justice: since 2011, I've collaborated with an endangered language community in Papua New Guinea to create and disseminate language revitalisation materials and since 2020, I've consulted with Coventry's community language schools and local government stakeholders, aiming to implement changes that will improve publicity, enrolment and quality of provision. My engagement work also includes sharing my research in the media and at public events including festivals, national public conferences, and international teacher conferences. I've also convened and delivered Professional Development linguistics workshops for school teachers and developed digital grammar teaching resources, and I've served as my department's Widening Participation and Schools Outreach Lead. SUPERVISION: I welcome inquiries from qualified students interested in pursuing doctoral research in the areas of language shift, maintenance and revitalisation, contact-induced language change, or descriptive Austronesian or 'Papuan' linguistics.


I taught English as a foreign language for several years in Brazil, Portugal and Indonesia, before completing my PhD in Linguistics at the University of Newcastle, Australia (2011-2015). I have been teaching linguistics at undergraduate and postgraduate level since 2012 at universities in Australia, Fiji, and the UK. Prior to joining The University of Warwick in 2016, I was a Teaching Fellow at University College London, where I taught English linguistics and worked on an AHRC Knowledge Transfer project 'Teaching English Grammar in Schools'.

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