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Modern Languages, Linguistics and Society

Research activities within Modern Languages, Linguistics and Society range from sign language to sociolinguistics. The team is working internationally to develop our understanding of the structure of spoken and signed languages, and the language used within cultural, social, political, institutional and forensic contexts.

Consistently one of the University’s strongest areas of research, Modern Languages, Linguistics and Society contains international and world-leading researchers working collaboratively across disciplines in the areas of:

  • Sign language linguistics
  • Corpus linguistics
  • Forensic linguistics
  • Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Critical digital pedagogy and computer-assisted language learning
  • Language teacher training
  • Interpreting and translation
  • Cultural identity and thought as expressed through world cinema and literature
  • Language-based area studies (e.g., Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish)

As a member of staff or research student you will be joining a team with an established research culture and you will be able to work alongside internationally-recognised scholars and researchers who are experts in their fields.

We promote postgraduate participation and provide a stimulating research environment which encourages student-led learning and the independence to complete in-depth research on our MRes and PhD programmes.

You will have the opportunity to utilise the expertise of our established researchers in the International Institute for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies, the Centre for Digital Education and Society, the Vladimir Vysotsky Centre for Russian Studies and the Research Unit for Speech and Language. All of our research groups host regular research seminars and symposia featuring distinguished visiting speakers and academics.

The Journal of Second Language Teaching and Research (JSLTR) is an in-house peer-reviewed journal which provides a platform both for established and early-career researchers in the area of second language teaching, learning and research. We also run an annual postgraduate international conference which attracts participants and presenters from around the world in June each year.

To find out more about research in Modern Languages, Linguistics and Society, contact Nick Palfreyman.


Developing the impact of our research within and beyond academia lies at the heart of our activities. Current impact activities include an investigation of:

  • Stories by, with, and for disadvantaged young people in communities: Literacies for social justice
  • Russian arts and regional audiences: Cultural enrichment and transnational understanding
  • Peer-to-peer teaching of literacy in India, Ghana and Uganda: Improving agency and educational access in deaf communities

Professor Candice Satchwell’s research has had a direct impact on around 50 disadvantaged young people, reaching out to many others and their families via Barnardo’s, schools, community events, museum installations, and web-based resources including films, stories, an interactive map. So far her projects have produced around 50 short-story books, and five phygital artefacts containing young people’s stories.

It has held three public festivals - AHRC in July 2015 to launch the project; Lancaster Words festival; and ESRC Social Science Festival in November 2017 to display phygitals and stories. Project team members have presented at numerous academic conferences and a community-university expo in Vancouver, as well as engaging with teachers, social workers and children in schools, universities, and community settings.

Young people from the project have accompanied academics on a research visit to Japan and received Japanese researchers and young people in return.

Dr Tabachnikova’s research aims to bridge the gap between Russia and Britain, assisting the non-academic world to acquire in-depth knowledge of Russia's cultural past and present, thus overcoming the stereotypes, counter-productive for cultural enrichment and transnational understanding.

By organising a diverse programme of events at UCLan and beyond, and creating the Vladimir Vysotsky Centre for Russian Studies, she has brought Russian culture to the English North-West, facilitating an inter-cultural dialogue and mutual awareness at a grassroots level.

Her collaboration with social scientists forms part of the ongoing study of the legacy of WWI in both countries, to produce pop-up exhibitions and a ground-breaking documentary, thus helping socio-political practitioners and policy-makers.

Professor Zeshan’s projects have sought to improve educational attainment and professional development for deaf signers, a marginalised group with minimal access to education, especially literacy learning. Her projects have used technology to facilitate the acquisition of reading, writing and ‘multiliteracies’ skills through sign languages.

Participants in India, Ghana and Uganda are learning English through their own sign language, often for the first time. Deaf-led research activities have shown that these platforms are both effective and welcomed by deaf people.

This work also includes publishing policy advice, creative training programmes and material, and extending the approach to deaf schoolchildren and to other countries.