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Heritage language bilingualism: challenges and opportunities.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, March 03, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Research Area: Social Inclusion and marginalised communities

Heritage language bilingualism: challenges and opportunities.


Over 21% of primary/17% of secondary pupils in English state schools speak a heritage language (DfE, 2018), with 18 languages spoken by more than 10,000 pupils each in 2012 (DfE, 2012). The study of heritage languages is now well established in the USA and Germany (see Benmamoun, Montrul and Polinsky 2013, Montrul 2016, Polinsky 2015, 2018, Flores, Kupisch and Rinke 2018, amongst others), but this field is underdeveloped in the UK, somewhat surprisingly given the UK’s great linguistic diversity. The primary focus of the proposed project will therefore be to contribute to the documentation of the grammar of a UK heritage language, ideally one spoken widely in the East of England: Urdu, Polish, Bengali, Panjabi or Portuguese (DfE, 2012), and one for which GCSE/A-level qualifications exist.

These community languages present a huge potential resource for UK schools and society, but, despite government intervention (DfE, 2015), entries for community language GCSEs and A-levels remain low (JCQ, 2017). If community languages are to feature in the projected increased language provision at GCSE resulting from the English Baccalaureate, then there is an urgent need to understand the barriers to uptake and propose strategies to overcome them. Investigating this will be the secondary focus of the project.

The ideal candidate will have a strong background in linguistics, with a particular interest in syntax and bilingualism and competence in a UK heritage language. Working within the Anglia Ruskin Research Centre for Intercultural and Multilingual Studies, the student will focus on a heritage language represented in the East of England. By working with local schools, the successful candidate will collect and analyse linguistic data informed by syntactic theory and previous work on bilingualism/language contact. The analysis of heritage languages attitudes will draw upon established sociolinguistic and ethnographic techniques, using interviews with heritage speakers, their parents and teachers.

How to apply


To apply, you’ll need: A first class bachelor’s degree or a 2:1 bachelor’s degree and a masters at merit level or above. Equivalent awards will be considered. Qualifications must be relevant for the particular studentship you are applying for.

You can apply online via our Vice Chancellor’s PhD Studentships page (https://www.anglia.ac.uk/research/postgraduate-research/phd-studentships). Under each project description you will find a link to the application form.

Full details of the application process and the terms and conditions can also be found on the above- page

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