Dr James Simpson

Dr James Simpson


I joined the School of Education, University of Leeds in 2004, where I was first a Research Fellow and since 2010 a Senior Lecturer. From 2010 to 2013 coordinated the MA TESOL programme. From 2014 to 2017 I led the Language Education academic group and directed the Centre for Language Education Research. I have spent two periods as Visiting Professor at the Centre for Applied Language Studies, University of Jyväskylä, Finland (2016 and 2017), advising on a series of projects on migrant language education and the arts.

I obtained my PhD (Applied Linguistics) from the University of Reading in 2004, an MA (ELT) from the University of Essex in 1996 and a PGCE (PCET) from the University of Greenwich in 1999. In my earlier career I worked as an English language teacher in a range of contexts in Europe, the Middle East and the UK.

Research interests

My research interests lie in the teaching and learning of English for Speakers of Other Languages in migration contexts, in migrant language learning and arts practice, and in the sociolinguistics of mobility and migration. My work involves the critical analysis of linguistic practices relating to identity and belonging, language diversity, language pedagogy, language policy and literacy. Most of my research has taken place in the UK, and I have also carried out work in South Asia.

From 2014 to 2018 I was the Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded project Translation and translanguaging: Investigating linguistic and cultural transformations in superdiverse wards in four UK cities, known as TLang. I also led two related projects, Migration and Home (AHRC) and Migration and Settlement (LSSI).

My most recent books are Voices and Practices in Applied Linguistics (White Rose Publishing, in press, edited with Clare Wright and Lou Harvey) and Translanguaging as Transfortmation: The Collaborative Construction of New Linguistic Realities (Multilingual Matters, in press, edited with Emilee Moore and Jessica Bradley). I have also published The Routledge Handbook of Language and Superdiversity (2018, section editor with Melanie Cooke), Language, Superdiversity and Education), Adult Language Education and Migration: Challenging Agendas in Policy and Practice (Routledge, 2015, edited with Anne Whiteside); The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics (Routledge, 2011); and ESOL: A Critical Guide (OUP, 2008, with Melanie Cooke).

I am active in policy formation for adult migrant language education. I manage an email discussion list ESOL-Research, a forum for researchers and practitioners with an interest in the field. I have acted as an advisor on national policy initiatives including the MHCLG Integrated Communities strategy and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Inclusion. I am the founder and Chair of Trustees of the Migrant English Support Hub and am a member of the steering groups for the NATECLA National ESOL Strategy for England and the City of Leeds ESOL Strategy .

Recent research projects

Translation and translanguaging: Investigating linguistic and cultural transformations in superdiverse wards in four UK cities (TLang) (2014-2018) (AHRC) (Co-Investigator).

Migration and Settlement: Extending the Welcome (2017) (LSSI) (Principal Investigator)

Migration and Home Connected Communities Utopias Festival project (2016) (AHRC) (PI)

EITA: Education and ICT for Adolescents Research, monitoring and evaluation project (2015-2016) (British Council Bangladesh) (Co-I).

MESH: Migrant English Support Hub (2014-present), the Learning English in Leeds project (2013-2018) and the Learning English Yorkshire & the Humber project (2019-2020).

Mobigam project (2012-13) (British Academy) (PI).

HENNA (Harehills ESOL Needs Neighbourhood Audit) project (2010-2011) (Leeds City Council) (PI).

Identity Online project (2007-2010) (British Academy) and Teacher Identity project (PI).

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


  • PhD Applied Linguistics
  • MA English Language Teaching
  • PGCE Post-Compulsory Education and Training, ESOL specialism
  • BA Modern European Studies

Professional memberships

  • British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL)
  • National Association of Teachers of English and Other Community Languages for Adults (NATECLA)

Student education

I lead and contribute to undergraduate and postgraduate modules in a range of language education topics.

I am a personal tutor for taught postgraduates on MA programmes across the School of Education and undergraduates on the BA English, Language and Education and BA TESOL programmes.

I supervise doctoral students researching language use and language education in migration contexts, and welcome applications.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Language Education

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes 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>