Corpus Linguistics: More than Meets the Eye

As a PhD student, one of the first questions I get asked is “what is your research on?”. When I respond with “corpus linguistics,” many people either raise their eyebrows or proceed to ask me what that is. The brief explanation of this is: A corpus is a collection of written or spoken texts that offer systematic insight into how a language is used in the population that the corpus represents. However, it goes without saying that corpus linguistics encompasses much more than scrutinizing the use of certain words and/or expressions. It is a powerful tool that can offer new insight into both language teaching and learning. It is also a tool that has made a tremendous impact not only in the field of linguistics, but also in various areas of education and material development.

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“Professor I want to know…”: Reflections on working with a local supervisor for conducting fieldwork in Rwanda

My local supervisor was no longer just a part of the ethical or formal procedures. In cross-cultural research, many have shared stories including dilemmas in valuing diverse knowledge systems, respecting different concepts on punctuality, locating “private” space in a communal culture, and ensuring voluntariness in participation. The contextualized advice given by a local expert was thus pacifying. It was invaluable in revealing the cultural norms, which were often misinterpreted by outsiders socialized in western research conventions.

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REAL at UKFIET

Conference delegates trickled in at first but the venue was soon filled. The presentations began. I was excited but soon found myself feeling unexpectedly down and nervous. It was difficult to avoid envisioning some of the disadvantages discussed as being my own burden by extension: a strange sense of empathy and narcissism at once. The discussion of inclusive systems sounded like discussions about a distant extended family member, in another part of my Global home South. The presentations felt heavy, and I wondered where people gained the strength to shoulder them: Does the research subject not feel personal to them? Are they all incredibly strong? I felt weak and guilty: conscious of myself as a black person from the Global South, a lucky one, in a privileged space, reflecting on the stories of distant family who may never see those Oxford walls adorned with images of stolen ‘fantasy’.

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The Mature Student’s Guide to Surviving a Masters When You Wrote Your Last Academic Essay Last Century

I am a primary school teacher, with four teenagers and a husband who is absent in the week. When my first child left for university, I realised that this was going to be the pattern for the next six years and I needed to have a ‘post-children’ plan that would be fulfilling, useful and a little more flexible than a classroom teacher could be. Applying to do a Masters the year when two children had major state exams was perhaps not the most considered decision but after reading about the course structure, I was positive. I imagined us all working quietly then preparing lunches together whilst discussing our various academic endeavours. This was not the case. I was still mother, taxi, counsellor, chef, laundrette attendant, domestic detective, and pet monitor, on top of returning to study after several decades of absence.

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On Judgement

Our society seems to love judgement, and judging, if all the “Britain’s Got Talent” and “X Factor” television shows are anything to go by. Sadly, our education system follows that pattern too. Schools, teachers, students – we’re all forever being judged. Throughout the education system there is a lot of finger pointing and labelling, of standards met or unmet and targets to be reached. There are a lot of “shoulds” and “musts”. Ofsted argues it helps teachers improve their practice, but I have yet to see evidence that judgement ever helps. Judgement stops creativity and risk taking. But most of all, judgement hurts.

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The Trouble with Boys

It became obvious that the usual barrage of punishments commonly administered in schools such as detentions, report cards and internal exclusion (being placed in isolation) were not making even a fraction of a difference. When three of the boys sobbed with frustration at being internally excluded yet again, I began to question the “one size fits all” methods of dealing with challenging behaviour in schools. I worried about their futures as statistics show that boys who are excluded from school are at much greater risk of offending, many ending up in prison; their life chances becoming dire. Apart from the anxiety and unhappiness of these students, what of the stress their teachers and peers experience because of their behaviour? What about the effect on the education of other pupils as well as their own?

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Inclusive Approaches to Researching Disability in Children’s Literature

The catalyst for this doctoral project was the realisation that there was very little research within the growing field of disability in children’s literature that asked for children’s views of such texts and only one project so far had begun to consider the views of disabled children. To me, this seemed to be a fundamental gap in the research: I firmly believe that disabled children should be asked for their views on the representation of their own lived experience, on which they are the experts, in line with Article 12 of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).

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