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Online and distance language teaching and learning

Research Language learning and teaching with The Open University

Language learning is a key topic in the Language and Literacies Research Cluster. In today’s globalised world, language learning and teaching is of increasing importance. In this area, a range of methodologies are applied to researching the teaching and learning of languages including the use of large multimodal corpora, sociocultural approaches and digitally mediated communication. Key projects include: developing online teaching skills and telecollaboration in Higher Education, effective e-feedback, the use of social media, and eyetracking (a technology recording the gaze focus of learners during online tasks to establish attention focus and learning strategies).

Qualifications available:

PhD. See also our Doctorate in Education (EdD)


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 or (equivalent) plus either a masters degree or research methods training at masters level (or equivalent)

Potential research projects

  • The application of new technologies to language learning and teaching
  • The professional development of language teachers
  • Translation and first language use in language teaching
  • Language learner and teacher identity/identities
  • Multilingualism and third-language learning
  • Independent language learning and learner autonomy
  • Culture and language learning
  • Interaction and collaboration in language learning
  • Task design
  • Assessment, feedback and self-assessment
  • The role of emotions in speaking online
  • Strategies in language learning
  • Multimodal analysis of online language learning interactions

Current/recent research projects

  • A study of an online reading group: English language teachers’ perceptions of the roles of reading and discussing literature in English in the construction of their professional identity
  • Impact on the knowledge construction process of multimodal online interactions in audiographic conferencing systems: the case of adult distance learners of French
  • Emotion in online distance language learning: learners’ appraisal of regret and pride in synchronous audiographic conferencing
  • Social presence in online multimodal communication: a framework to analyse online interactions between language learners
  • Living Latin: exploring a communicative approach to Latin teaching through a sociocultural perspective on language learning

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Mrs Anne Foward
+44 (0)1908 655364

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.