Dr Becky Muradás-Taylor

Profile

I joined the University of Leeds in May 2022 as an Associate Professor in Languages and Linguistics. I am Deputy Head for Programme Design in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies and work with colleagues across the School in this role.

Prior to joining the University of Leeds, I worked at York St John University where I had a variety of roles including Associate Head for Curriculum Development in the School of Education, Language and Psychology, Subject Director for Linguistics and TESOL, and Head of Programme for Linguistics.

I completed my PhD at the University of Nagoya, Japan, in second language phonology, title: 英語話者による日本語の語アクセントの習得 [The acquisition of Japanese lexical accent by English speakers].

I am a keen advocate of languages other than English (LOTE). I speak fluent but rusty Japanese (I wrote my PhD thesis in Japanese) and am getting better at Spanish.

Responsibilities

  • Deputy Head of School: Programme Design

Research interests

One of my research interests is second language phonology. I am interested in why Japanese pitch accent is so difficult for English speakers to acquire. I recently published on this topic in the Journal of Language and Speech. I am currently analysing second language pitch accent from the perspective of dynamic systems theory, and I presented this at New Sounds 2022: International Symposium on the Acquisition of Second Language Speech. I have also published a case study on the pitch accent of the Japanese spoken by a trilingual English/Nupe/Hausa speaker.

My other research interest is the learning and teaching of languages other than English (LOTE). We know that fewer and fewer young people are taking languages at GCSE and A level, and many university language programmes are closing. I’m investigating the implications of this for widening participation and identifying those universities that are widening access to language degrees. I recently formed the Widening Participation Languages Network to promote and support language degree programmes in universities with below-average entry tariffs.  

Inspired by both my second language phonology research and my language education research, I also run the OurLOTE Project, a social media project celebrating languages other than English. We all know that role models are important, but in the UK we rarely see people in the media, government or business using languages other than English. I want to showcase and celebrate the use of languages other than English – and the different accents we all have! You can see a short film celebrating the languages used at York St John University here. The OurLOTE Project has recently received funding from the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) and the Universities of Leeds and York St John to focus on the City of York under the new name of OurLOTE-York.

I currently co-supervise one PhD student at York St John University who is using construction grammar to compare Chinese and English. I welcome applications for PhD research in topics related to second language phonology, language education or language policy in relation to L1 English users of other languages.

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

Qualifications

  • PhD (Nagoya University, Japan)
  • MA (Nagoya University, Japan)
  • MSci (University of Cambridge, UK)
  • FHEA

Student education

I am part of Curriculum Redefined at the University of Leeds.

Before joining the University of Leeds, I worked extensively on programme design at York St John University, collaborating with colleagues to develop programmes in Applied Linguistics and TESOL; British Sign Language, Japanese and Korean; Children, Young People and Education; Forensic Psychology; Humanistic Counselling; and Social Work.

I have experience of teaching English, Japanese, English and Japanese linguistics, phonetics, second language acquisition, and TESOL. I particularly enjoy teaching second language phonology, including (i) the description and transcription of second language speech (ii) models of cross-linguistic influence and acquisition and (iii) consideration of the wider sociocultural context for second language users.

I am currently external examiner for the MA TESOL programme at the University of York. I was previously external examiner for the UG TESOL programmes at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

<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="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>