I am a Staff Tutor and Lecturer in Applied Linguistics at the Open University. My research interests include conceptual transfer in second language acquisition, langauge teaching and learning, cognitive lingusitics and its application to classroom practice. I gained my PhD at Cardiff University in early 2016, with a thesis entitled: Learner error in second language acquisition: the transfer of form or concept? and joined the Open University in June of the same year. I come to the OU with a background in language teaching and learning, in particular EAP and Italian. I spent over ten years working in universities in Malta, Italy and latterly the University of Worcester UK teaching, developing and directing English language programmes for international and home students. I have also worked as a teacher of EFL, French and Italian.
My research focuses on the investigation of conceptual transfer in learner interlanguage using a number of methods including think aloud reports, verbal production and psycholinguistic tasks as well as eye-tracking data.
With Scott Jarvis at the University of Utah, I am investigating the effect of conceptual transfer in the interlanguage of L1 Italian learners of L2 English using eye-tracking and verbal production data. This project is one of four eye-tracking projects funded by PRAXIS.
As well as looking for compelling evidence for conceptual transfer in learner language and behaviour, I am interested in the implications of my research for classroom practice. My results have highlighted the importance of promoting meta-linguistic awareness and using embodied learning techniques to facilitate second language acquisition.
In a further project funded by PRAXIS, I am working with Prithvi Shrestha to assess the effectiveness of oral assessment on a distance English for business communication module.
My teaching interests encompass Languages (Italian, EFL and EAP) and Applied Linguistics. I am currently Module Team Chair of EE819 Stage 3 Dissertation module (EE819) on the MA in Education (Applied Linguistics) programme.
Speaker at Languages Live 2018. 9th – 11th of November 2018, London, UK. Presentation title: Austen, S and Busby, D. Which came first: the world or the word?
Speaker at EuroSLA 2017, 30th of August – 2nd September 2017, Reading, UK. Presentation title: Austen, S and Jarvis, S. Conceptual transfer effects in the L2 English of Italian L1 learners as they attempt to express distinct temporal concepts.
Speaker at The expression of temporality by L2 learners of French and English: acquisition of time, aspect and modality. 22nd – 24th May 2014. University Paul Valery Montpellier 3. France. Presentation title: Learner error in second language acquisition: the transfer of form or concept?
Presentation to the Malta Linguistics Circle. 26th April 2012. Presentation title: Learner error in second language acquisition: the transfer of form or concept?
Speaker at After the Modern Post-Graduate Symposium. 16th-17th of April 2010. University of Malta. Presentation title: Learner error in second language acquisition: the transfer of form or concept?
Speaker at The 21st European Systemic Functional Linguistics Conference and Workshop. 8-10 July 2009. Cardiff University. Presentation title: Learner error in second language acquisition: the transfer of form or concept?
I am a member of BAAL, EUROSLA and IATEFL.