Dr Ellen Smith

Teaching Fellow, Survey of English Usage

I teach English linguistics to undergraduate and postgraduate students in the English Department, and work on the Teaching English Grammar for Schools project. (See also Englicious.)


My primary research interests are grammatical description; typology; language variation and change; language endangerment; bilingualism; first and second language acquisition; applied linguistics.

The most exciting aspect of linguistic research for me is collecting original linguistic data in its ‘real world’ environment and learning about the languages, linguistic choices and cultures of the people I work with. I am an experienced fieldworker with a wide range of expertise: I have collected data in urban and rural home settings, urban school settings and extremely remote community settings, from bilingual children and adolescents, and monolingual and multilingual adults. I have experience of a wide range of data collection methods including lexical and grammatical elicitation, participant observation, questionnaires, sociolinguistic interviews and stimulus based natural communication tasks. I have an excellent command of modern recording technology, programs for transcription, grammatical annotation and metadata (including ELAN, CLAN, Toolbox), and of meeting archiving requirements.

With the original data I have collected, I have described and documented an endangered language (comprising a corpus of 60 hours digital audio and video recordings of natural and elicited spoken data, which are associated with time-aligned transcription, grammatical annotation and translation, and accompanied by full metadata); created materials to assist in linguistic and cultural maintenance (pedagogical readers, illustrated vocabulary books and a short dictionary); and investigated topics such as language endangerment, contact-induced grammatical change, bilingual child language acquisition, second language acquisition, applied linguistics and English sociophonetic variation. My experiences of teaching English and learning languages (including French, Portuguese, Indonesian and Tok Pisin) have been the impetus for my continued fascination with these subjects and have greatly informed and complemented my research activities.

Education and teaching experience

My academic qualifications include:

Oct 2010-Feb 2015. PhD Linguistics, The University of Newcastle, Australia. Thesis: A grammar of Papapana with an investigation into language contact and endangerment.

2007-2008. M.A. Languages and Linguistics: Distinction, The University of Manchester, United Kingdom. Dissertation: Syntactic development in the interlanguage systems of children and adolescents acquiring English as a second language: an analysis of individual variation.

2004-2007. B.A. (Honours) English and Linguistics: First Class, The University of Manchester, United Kingdom. Dissertation: To what extent is the speech of a bilingual child affected by their having acquired two languages simultaneously?

Previously I have held the following academic positions:

Jan-Sept 2015. Sessional Module Convenor and Lecturer, The University of Newcastle, Australia.
I convened and taught the face-to-face and online Linguistics modules in the Open Foundation program, which is Australia's largest and longest running enabling program. I convened and taught the undergraduate module Academic Language Skills for International Students. I taught and contributed to the undergraduate modules Foundations of Language (for primary education students) and Languages of Australia and the Pacific.

July-Dec 2014. Assistant Lecturer in Linguistics, The University of the South Pacific, Fiji.
I convened and taught the undergraduate blended mode modules Structure of English and Varieties of English.

July 2012-June 2014. Sessional Module Lecturer, The University of Newcastle, Australia
I taught and contributed to the undergraduate modules Foundations of Language and Introduction to Linguistics.

I hold a Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) and prior to my PhD, I worked as an English as a Foreign Language Teacher and Teacher Manager in Brazil, England, Portugal and Indonesia. I have also worked as an AQA G.C.S.E English Examination Assessor, a Teaching Assistant in a UK High School, and a Special Needs Support Assistant in a UK Sixth Form College.


Smith, Ellen (in press). ‘Contact-induced change in a highly endangered language of northern Bougainville.’ Australian Journal of Linguistics.
Smith, Ellen (in press). ‘Measuring and understanding ethnolinguistic vitality in Papapana.’ In Pütz, Martin and Luna Filipovic (eds), Endangered Languages: Issues of ecology, policy and documentation. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Smith, Ellen (submitted). ‘Papapana re~redu~reduplicates.’
Smith, Ellen (in preparation). A Grammar of Papapana. For submission to Pacific Linguistics.

Conference papers

May 2015. ‘Papapana re~redu~reduplicates.’ Linguistics Seminar Series, The University of Newcastle, Australia.
April 2014. ‘Measuring and understanding ethnolinguistic vitality in the two most endangered Northwest Solomonic languages’. 36th International LAUD Symposium, University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany.
and Invited Speaker, Occasional Seminar, School of Oriental and African Studies, The University of London, United Kingdom.
June 2013. ‘Language Contact Consequences: Change and Endangerment in Papapana.’ 9th International Symposium on Bilingualism, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Feb 2013. ‘To what extent and why are Papapana and Ririo endangered?’ 9th International Conference on Oceanic Languages, The University of Newcastle, Australia.
(with Stephen Logan and John Olstad). Feb 2013. ‘Noun Class in Nehan/North Bougainville.’ 9th International Conference on Oceanic Languages, The University of Newcastle, Australia.
Oct 2012. ‘Contact-induced grammatical change in Northwest Solomonic languages.’ Continuity and Change: Grammars of the Pacific, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
July 2012. ‘Contact-induced change in Papapana: preliminary findings from the documentation of a highly endangered Northwest Solomonic language.’ 12th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics, Udayana University, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

This page last modified 1 December, 2016 by Survey Web Administrator.