Heritage languages studentship

We are offering a one-off PhD studentship investigating the attitude and uptake of language qualifications amongst speakers of heritage languages in the eastern region.

After English and Welsh, the most widely spoken languages in the UK are: Polish, Panjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Arabic, French, Chinese and Portuguese (2011 census). However, uptake for GCSEs and A-levels in these 'community' languages remains low, and many young UK bilinguals gain no formal qualification in their other language(s). The reasons for this are not well understood, and nor is it known how well these assessments map onto UK heritage varieties, as the syntax and phonology of many of these varieties has not been systematically studied.

The successful candidate will investigate one or more of the heritage languages spoken in the eastern region of the UK, focusing on: (i) the syntactic, morphological and phonological properties of this/these varieties in comparison with L1 and L2 variants; (ii) the attitudes of heritage speakers to their bilingualism; and (iii) potential reasons for the low uptake of community language qualifications. They will work closely with schools in the region in order to identify heritage language speakers, making multiple visits and potentially contributing teaching materials based on their findings.

If successful, you will benefit from a fee waiver and a stipend/bursary at Research Councils UK (RCUK) level. For 2017-18, this is £14,553. As PhDs run for three years, your stipend will be uplifted in line with RCUK recommendations for each year of study.

You may also have the opportunity to contribute to undergraduate teaching at ARU, and to participate fully in a wide range of research-related activities, as well as being part of the ‘Linguistics in MFL A-level’ working group.


For a successful application you will need:

  • a 1st class bachelor degree in linguistics or a related discipline from a UK institution (or equivalent).
  • or a 2:1 bachelor degree from a UK institution (or equivalent) and a Masters at Merit level or above (or equivalent) in linguistics or a related discipline.
  • and (if English is not your first language) an IELTS score of 6.5 with 5.5 in each component, or equivalent test recognised by Anglia Ruskin University.

Conversational competence in at least one language from the above list is also essential. Preference may be given to candidates with fluency in at least one of: Polish, Portuguese, French (especially non-European varieties) or Urdu.

You will also require a good understanding of syntax, morphology and basic phonology.

Experience of working in or with schools and a familiarity with the literature on heritage languages and bilingualism would be an advantage but is not essential. The ability to drive would also be an advantage.

How to apply

Informal inquiries can be addressed to michelle.sheehan@anglia.ac.uk and full applications consisting of a research degrees application form including an outline of proposed research and a CV should be sent to the same address before 5pm, 18 April 2018 with the subject heading "PhD application".

Interviews for this position are scheduled to take place in the week beginning 30 April 2018.