Placeholder image for ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales Collaborative Doctoral Award: Usage-Based Language Learning: How It Works

ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales Collaborative Doctoral Award: Usage-Based Language Learning: How It Works, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 36 months
University rank #101 (ARWU) Cardiff, United Kingdom
This studentship is jointly funded by the ESRC Wales DTP and Cardiff University and is a collaboration with project partner SaySomethingin, 
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The project aims to investigate a radically usage-based approach to the learning of second languages (L2s). This topic and the basic parameters of the project are given, but the precise details will be decided jointly by the student, supervisor and collaborating partner, SaySomethingin. Usage-based theories of language and of language learning have become very influential over the past 15 years, including in explaining first language acquisition. However, its insights have not been widely applied to L2 learning where methodology still follows more traditional understandings of language learning. This project addresses this shortcoming by investigating how fully usage-based L2 learning would work. The project therefore represents a unique opportunity to create significant new theoretical insight with clear potential for practical benefit to improve L2 learning techniques. Consequently, the student undertaking the research has the opportunity to make their mark on two highly active areas of linguistic enquiry: usage-based theories and language learning.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 36 months
    • Duration description

      The awards are available on either a 1+3 or +3 basis. A 1+3 studentship provides funding for four years (or part-time equivalent), completing a research training Masters in the 1st year, followed by 3 years research funding for a PhD. A +3 studentship

  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Likely research questions include• How practically feasible is fully usage-based L2-learning?• What are expected practical advantages and/or disadvantages of a usage-based approach, compared to traditional approaches?• What adjustments to usage-based theories of language beyond the domain of L2 acquisition are suggested by findings?The student will be based at Cardiff, but will be expected to visit the project partner SaySomethingin in Ceredigion on occasion for short periods of time. A contribution towards the costs associated with travel and accommodation will be provided by SaySomethingin.

English Language Requirements

This programme may require students to demonstrate proficiency in English.

General Requirements

Candidates should have an excellent academic background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or strong upper 2nd class degree; applications from those also holding a relevant research training Master’s degree (or an equivalent background in research training) will be considered for a +3 award.

Tuition Fee

Living costs for Cardiff

  • 628 - 1070 GBP/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


Studentship Awards commence in October 2020 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant at the RCUK rate subject to UK residency requirements; and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant RTSG. There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including internship opportunities.

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