Professor Julia Snell

Professor Julia Snell


I joined the School of English in February 2014 after three years as a Lecturer at King’s College London (2011–2014) and just over two years as a Researcher at the Institute of Education, University of London (2008–2011).


  • Director of Impact

Research interests

My research is interdisciplinary, integrating approaches from linguistics, anthropology, sociology and education in order to investigate the ways in which children’s language and communicative practices shape (and are shaped by) their social and intellectual lives. My published work covers three main areas of language study: (1) language variation and social class; (2) language ideologies in education; (3) classroom discourse and dialogic pedagogy.

My research on language variation has focused on the influence of social class, investigating how children from different social backgrounds use the resources of their local dialect, in addition to ‘standard’ English, to construct their identities, negotiate social hierarchies, and manage their relationships with each other and with their teachers. I have used this research to challenge the negative views on working-class children’s language that often appear in media and public discourse, and in some educational policy documents.

My work on language ideologies in education (with Ian Cushing) adopts a raciolinguistic perspective, treating race and class as intersectional axes of difference and discrimination. This work seeks to expose and challenge the logics through which the language practices of low income and racialised speakers are deemed to be deficient when evaluated by privileged white listeners.

My work on classroom discourse and dialogic pedagogy has sought to promote the use of 'dialogic' teaching practices that engage active pupil participation in rich and challenging classroom discourse. This research has investigated factors that may impact how and to what extent dialogic teaching and learning is enacted in UK classrooms, such as importing popular culture into the classroom, pressure from high-stakes standardised testing, and teachers’ views on pupil ability.

Drawing upon our research on classroom discourse and dialogic pedagogy, Adam Lefstein and I have developed an innovative approach to teacher learning from video-recorded lessons. We elaborate on this approach in our book, Better than Best Practice: Developing Teaching and Learning through Dialogue, which is aimed at teachers and teacher educators, as well as researchers. Please visit our website for more information about the book and related work.

My current Leverhulme funded research on – ‘Spoken Language, Standards and Inequality in Schools’ – investigates how teachers’ perceptions of pupils’ social background, language and abilities influence classroom interaction and pedagogy.

All my research reflects my interest in ethnography, and in developing innovative research methodologies (in particular finding ways to combine quantitative with qualitative methods).I am Convenor of the Linguistic Ethnography Forum and co-founder of the affiliated biennial conference, Explorations in Ethnography, Language and Communication. I am co-editor (with Sara Shaw and Fiona Copland) of Linguistic Ethnography: Interdisciplinary Explorations.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Sociolinguistics
  • MA English Language and World Englishes
  • BA English Language and Literature

Professional memberships

  • British Association for Applied Linguistics
  • Linguistic Ethnography Forum

Student education

I teach a range of English Language modules across two undergraduate programmes: BA English Language and Literature; and BA English Language and Linguistics.

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>