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Professor Helen Spencer-Oatey

Research Interests

I have now retired and am not taking on any new PhD students. My main research interests are: - Social pragmatics, especially the interrelationship between language use and the management of interpersonal relations (face theory, politeness theory, rapport management theory). - Intercultural interaction, including cross-cultural pragmatics, intercultural discourse, and the interface between culture, language and behaviour. - Intercultural adaptation and change, including issues of identity and hybridity, culture shock, intercultural competence and development. - Culture and pedagogy.


My educational background is in both psychology and linguistics, and throughout my career I have worked at the interface of the two disciplines. My first teaching experience was in Hong Kong, where I taught English language to sixth-form (pre-university) students, as well as to adults taking evening classes at a British Council language school. Later I spent 7 very happy years working at Shanghai Jiaotong University, training teachers of English language from colleges and universities in the eastern region of China. After completing my PhD at Lancaster University, I lectured at the University of Luton for 10 years and established the first MA in Intercultural Communication in the UK. In 2002 I started managing the major inter-governmental eChina-UK Programme on behalf of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and found it a transforming experience. I joined the University of Warwick in September 2007.

Title Funder Award start Award end
Intercultural communication and adaptation in the British and Japanese construction industry British Academy 01 Oct 2015 30 Sep 2018
The Graduate Pledge Project: Global-oriented curriculum (2 of 5) Kings College London 01 Jun 2009 30 Apr 2010