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Elizabeth Erling



  • Teacher in the Doctoral Programme for Foreign Language Didactics
  • Lecturer on the following courses: Introduction to Communicative Language Teaching, Language Testing and Assessment, Focus on Language and the Learner, Research Seminar in English Didactics.


  • PhD in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, the University of Edinburgh (2004)
  • MSc in Applied Linguistics, the University of Edinburgh (1999)
  • Bachelors in English Literature and German Studies (Hons), Georgia State University (1995)


My research seeks answers to complex questions about language education policy, such as which languages(s) should be used as the medium of instruction, which model of multilingual education is most effective in a particular context, and what is the value of learning a particular language? To answer these questions, I draw on interdisciplinary perspectives and powerful configurations of methods (e.g. rigorous reviews, ethnographic case studies, interviews, classroom observations, large-scale questionnaires, linguistic analysis). This approach has granted me distinctive understanding of the widespread belief that English language learning necessarily results in economic and social “progress”, and how this belief can lead to language policy choices that limit the transformational power of education.


My research also provides insight into how to better foster equitable quality, social justice, empathy and intercultural understanding through language policies and pedagogies, often by leveraging technology. These insights have shaped large-scale international language teaching and teacher education initiatives such as English in Action, Bangladesh and TESS-India, and influenced the policies and practices of important stakeholders in education (e.g. the British Council, DfID, Education Development Trust).


I have attracted over €100,000 of funding for research and have led the following projects:

  • Multilingual classrooms: opportunities and challenges for English medium instruction in low and middle income contexts, Education Development Trust, British Council, Open University, 2017.
  • English for economic development: A case study of migrant workers from Bangladesh, ELTRP, British Council, 2015.
  • The Role of English in Skills Development in South Asia: Policies, Interventions and Existing Evidence, British Council (Commissioned), 2014.
  • Attitudes to English as a language for international development in rural Bangladesh. ELTRP, British Council, 2012.
  • An Investigation into the Relationship between the Use of Academic Language and Attainment – With a Focus on Students from Ethnic Minorities. Milton Keynes: Open University, 2009.

Additional information

  • From 2016-2017, I taught in the Department of English at the University of Vienna.
  • From 2007-2017, I was Senior Lecturer in English Language Teaching and International Teacher Education in the Department of Education at the Open University, UK.
  • From 1999-2007, I was Lecturer of English at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Profile at Linkedin: https://at.linkedin.com/in/elizabeth-j-erling-5539a412

Selected publications


Erling, E.J. (forthcoming, 2020) Sociolinguistic Perspectives on English Language Learning and Development. London: Routledge.

Erling, E.J., Clegg, J. And Reilly, C. (Eds) (forthcoming, 2020) Multilingual Learning in Sub-Saharan Africa: Critical Insights and Practical Applications. Language and Content Integrated Teaching & Plurilingual Education Series. London: Routledge.

Erling, E.J. (Ed) (2017) English across the Fracture Lines: the Contribution and Relevance of English to Security, Safety and Stability in the World. London: British Council.

Erling, E.J. and P. Seargeant (Eds) (2013) English and Development: Policy, Pedagogy and Globalization. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.


Articles and book chapters

Erling, E.J. and Adinolfi, L. (2019) In Safford, K. and Chamberlain, L. (eds) Primary school medium of instruction policies in Ghana and India. Learning and Teaching Around the World: Comparative and International Studies in Primary Education. London: Routledge, 55-61.

Erling, E.J. and Khatoon, M. (2018) ‘The Status and Economic Significance of English in Bangladesh: Perceptions and Consequences’. In I. Eyres et al (Eds), Sustainable English Language Teacher Development at Scale: Lessons from Bangladesh. London: Bloomsbury, 23-44.

Erling, E.J., Chowdhury, Q.H., Solly, M. and Seargeant, P. (2018) “Successful” migration, (English) language skills and global inequality: The case of Bangladeshi migrants to the Middle East. Multilingua https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2018-0021

Erling, E.J. (2017) ‘Development aid, language planning and English education in Bangladesh’. Current Issues in Language Planning. Special issue on ‘Language planning and development aid.’ 11, 4: 388-406. https://doi.org/10.1080/14664208.2017.1331496

Erling, E.J. (2017) ‘Being “the villain”: Globalization and the “native-speaker” English language teacher’. In Borjian, M. (Ed.), Perspectives on Language and Globalization: An Autoethnographic Approach. London: Routledge.

Erling, E.J., Adinolfi, L., Hultgren, A.K., Buckler, A. and Mukorera, M. (2016). ‘Medium of Instruction (MOI) policies in Ghanaian and Indian primary schools: An overview of key issues and recommendations’. Comparative Education. Special Issue on 'English as a Medium of Instruction in Low and Middle Income Countries: Issues of Quality, Equity and Social Justice'. 53:3, 294-310. https://doi.org/10.1080/03050068.2016.1185254

Erling, E.J., Schekulin, C., Thir, V., Seidlhofer, B. and Widdowson, H. (2016) ‘English language: English as a Lingua Franca’. Year's Work in English Studies, 130-169.

Erling, E. J., Seargeant, P. and M. Solly (2014) ‘English in rural Bangladesh: How is language education perceived as a resource for development in rural communities?’ English Today. 30:4, 16-22.

Erling, E.J. and J.T.E. Richardson (2010) ‘Measuring the Academic Skills of University Students: Evaluation of a diagnostic procedure.’ Assessing Writing. 15:3, 177-193.

Erling, E.J. and T. Bartlett (2008) ‘Making space for us: German graduate student voices in English.’ Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching. 2: 2, 174-188.

Erling, E.J. (2007) ‘Local identities and global connections: Affinities with English among student specialists at the Free University of Berlin.’ World Englishes 26:2, 111-130.

Erling, E.J. and S. K. Hilgendorf (2006) ‘Language policies in the context of German higher education.’ Language Policy. 5:3, 267-293.

Erling, E.J. (2005) ‘The many names of English.’ English Today. 21:1, 40-44.

Erling, E.J. (2002) ‘“I speak English since 10 years”: Global English and the German university classroom.’ English Today. 18:2, 8-13.


ELT Research and Methodology
Heinrichstraße 36 8010 Graz
Department of English Studies

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