Dr Nick Smith

Personal details | Publications | Research | Teaching | Supervision | Media

Associate Professor in Applied LinguisticsDr Nick Smith

Department: Education

Telephone: +44 (0)116 229 7525

Email: ns359@le.ac.uk

Address: University of Leicester, 21 University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RF

Personal details


My main academic interests are in applied linguistics, especially the use of computer corpora – i.e. large, principled collections of written/spoken texts – to explore variation and change in the English language. Much of this research has been on variation across different registers, and changes in grammatical usage and style in 20th- and 21st-century standard British and American English (as in, for example, the co-authored Change in Contemporary English, Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Other research and teaching areas include regional and social variation in English (including dialects, World Englishes and register variation), and longer-range historical change (e.g. historical pragmatics, grammar/semantics, and spelling variation). I also have a keen interest in areas of corpus linguistics methodology such as corpus design, automatic and manual forms of linguistic categorization (annotation), and ways of exploiting corpora for language learning and teaching.


  • BA (Hons) Durham University
  • MA Lancaster University
  • PhD Lancaster University
  • Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy


  • University of Leicester Teaching Superstar Award (2014)
  • University of Leicester Superstar Nomination for ‘Best Supervisor’ (2020)


Selected publications


Since around 2000 I’ve been involved in a series of funded projects (AHRC, British Academy, Leverhulme) designed to improve understanding of recent grammatical and stylistic change in standard British and American English. In collaboration with colleagues at Lancaster, Freiburg and Zürich, I have been investigating changing patterns of grammatical usage, comparing developments in British and American English, and discussing possible factors underlying the changes identified. The work has entailed annotation and analysis of corpora, and creation of new corpora from the early twentieth century. These activities, and previous work on the British National Corpus, have involved research in corpus methods, particularly ways of enhancing the design and annotation of corpora to support investigations of language in use. Two increasing areas of interest are: a) spoken corpus data, e.g. radio and other broadcast programmes, looking at contemporary language change from register-based and sociolinguistic perspectives; and b) exploiting corpus findings in English language learning/teaching.

I am a member of the Board of ICAME, the umbrella organisation of an international conference series on corpus linguistics methodology and findings relating to English. I am also a member of the international consortium developing the ARCHER corpus project. This corpus is a major resource for studying regional differences and historical change in British and American English from 1600 to the present day. My main involvement is in enhancing the grammatical annotation of the corpus. I have made similar contributions to the NECTE and FRED-S corpora of English dialects.

I was previously a committee member of the Corpus Special Interest Group (SIG) of the British Association for Applied Linguistics. My contributions to research training include the AHRC Corpus Linguistics Advanced Research Education and Training (CLARET) and invited seminars in corpus linguistics in Japan and Sweden.


I convene the following modules for MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL/ MA TESOL/ MA English Language and Linguistics:

  • Language in Society: EN7314 (Campus) and EN7525 (Distance)
  • Discourse Analysis: EN7315 (Campus) and EN7526 (Distance)
  • Corpus Linguistics for Language Learning/Teaching: EN7306 (Campus) and EN7574 (Distance)

I also teach on:


I am interested in supervising students whose interests include any of the following areas related to my research and teaching:

  • Corpus linguistics;
  • English grammar and lexicogrammar/phraseology/collococation;
  • Language change in English;
  • Using corpora for language learning/teaching;
  • Spoken, written and new media language, particularly linguistic studies of register and broadcast talk;
  • Regional and social variation in English, including British and American English, World Englishes, and regional English dialects

Doctoral students I am currently supervising include:

  • David Clayton (management discourse/EAP)
  • Jenny Kemp (legal discourse/EAP)
  • James Young (EAP/ESP)
  • Arnaud Lotte (grammar in EFL coursebooks)
  • Fatimah Alsaiari (Arabic and English language newspaper discourse)

My most recent doctoral completions are Maryam Al-Attar (advertising discourse: a multimodal approach), Keith Barrs (English loanwords in Japanese) and Adnan Mkehlif (grammatical collocations and language learning).


  • Manchester Evening News, May 27, 2011 – on accents and Cheryl Cole’s departure from The X-Factor USA
  • XFM Breakfast Show, April, 2008 – on how words become obsolete
  • XFM Breakfast Show, January, 2008 – on swearing
  • Radio Lancashire and Bay Radio, September 2005 – on current change in English

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Telephone: 0116 252 3688

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