IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


IOE alumna’s paper published in top language research journal

17 March 2023

IOE alumna Yaoyao Ruan (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) In-Service MA, class of 2021) has published a paper in System, a high impact journal in the field of applied linguistics.

Person writing in notebook whilst studying. Image: Gabby K via Pexels

The paper found that certain individuals with low auditory processing abilities may show little improvement in learning a second language, no matter how much they practice. While instruction is generally effective in facilitating second language learning, it was more keenly observed among participants with relatively average levels of auditory processing but unclear among those with low levels of auditory processing. 

The paper suggests that auditory training could help facilitate language learning in some individuals with specific auditory difficulties.  

Yaoyao is currently a PhD student at the University of Oxford researching Aptitude-Instruction-Interaction in second language acquisition. After completing her TESOL MA in 2021, she was commended in the British Council’s annual MA Dissertation Award for her paper, "How does having a good ear and memory matter for successful second language phonological learning and teaching? An experimental study."

Dr Kazuya Saito commented on Yaoyao’s findings: "Few MA students have the opportunity to publish their papers in top-tier journals, making this achievement particularly noteworthy. It is exceptional that an MA student made it into the top journal in the field of TESOL. This evidences the top-notch quality of our TESOL programme. 

"Whilst it is commonly understood that instruction can help second language pronunciation development, Yaoyao’s research findings are particularly significant as they shed light on the varying degrees of effectiveness and the potential disadvantage for learners with weaker auditory processing skills. This highlights the importance of recognising individual differences and implementing remedial strategies to ensure that all learners have the opportunity to improve their second language pronunciation. 

"This is such an important implication for all teachers and students. To help everyone learn a second language equally, it’s crucial to train not only language but also auditory processing, like the degree of one’s good ear."



Gabby K via Pexels.