Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Contact Details

Dr James Simpson

Senior Lecturer in Language Education

I am an applied linguist specialising in the teaching and learning of languages in migration contexts and in the intersection of new technology, literacy and social justice. My work involves the critical analysis of linguistic practices relating to identity, language diversity, language pedagogy, language policy and literacy. I have worked with a number of institutions and organisations on projects supporting the teaching and learning of English for adult migrants. With Melanie Cooke of King's College London I have written a book on this topic, ESOL: A Critical Guide (OUP, 2008). In Applied Linguistics more generally I am the editor of the Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics (Routledge, 2011) and have served on the committee of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL). I am a frequent speaker at conferences on Applied Linguistics, TESOL, teaching with new technology, and related topics.

In my earlier career I worked as an English language teacher in Europe, the Middle East and in the FE sector in the UK. I studied for my MA in ELT at the University of Essex (1996), my PGCE at the University of Greenwich (1999), and my PhD at the University of Reading (2004). Upon completion of my PhD I joined the School of Education, University of Leeds, where I was first a Research Fellow and since 2010 a Senior Lecturer. I now lead the Language Education academic team within the School. I teach on Postgraduate and Undergraduate courses in language education, and from 2010 to 2013 coordinated the MA TESOL programme.

Research Interests

My research interests lie in the teaching and learning of English for Speakers of Other Languages in migration contexts, and in language learning with new technology. I supervise a number of Doctoral students in these areas, and welcome applications.

I manage an email discussion list ESOL-Research, a forum for researchers and practitioners with an interest in teaching and learning ESOL.

In June 2014 I convened a colloquium on language education policy for adult migrants at the Sociolinguistics Symposium, Jyvaskyla, Finland. In August 2014 I was plenary speaker at the LESLLA conference in Nijmegen, Netherlands. Both events were related to a forthcoming book I am editing with Anne Whiteside (City College San Francisco) entitled Adult language education and migration: Challenging agendas in policy and practice (Routledge).  

Current and recent research projects

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

Mobigam project (2012-13) (British Academy) (Applicant and lead researcher).

HENNA (Harehills ESOL Needs Neighbourhood Audit) project (2010-2011) (Leeds City Council) (Applicant and lead researcher).  

Identity Online project (2007-2010) (British Academy) and Teacher Identity project (Applicant and lead researcher).

Placement Practices Project (2006-2007) (NRDC/ESF) (Lead researcher).

PPA project (‘Motivating Skills for Life students to persist progress and achieve’) (2006-2007) (NRDC/QIA) (Researcher).

ESOL practitioner development project (2006-2007) (NRDC/ESF) (Researcher)..

ESOL Effective Practice Project (2003-2006) (NRDC/ESF) (Researcher)..

NRDC-funded practitioner-led action research project, Dewsbury College (2005-2006) (NRDC) (Academic advisor).

Practitioner-led action research project, Park Lane College, Leeds (2006-2008) (Academic advisor).

Other professional activities

Editor, The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics (2011).

Member of advisory board of the journal Language Issues.

Member of the AILA Language and Migration Research Network and the UK Linguistic Ethnography Forum. 

Member of BAAL, NATECLA , UCU.


I am the module convenor, EDUC 3030 Language Learning Technology and Materials.

I teach on the following modules: EDUC 5979M Language Learning and Teaching with ICT, EDUC 5922M Research methods for TESOL, EDUC 5927 Assessing Language Learning, EDUC 3007 Globalisation and Language Education.

I am a personal tutor for taught postgraduates on MA programmes in the school and undergraduates on the BA English, Language and Education programme. 

PhD Supervision

I supervise doctoral students working in the areas of language learning in migration contexts and language learning with new technology.

Key Publications

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