Dr Sarah Liszka

Sarah Liszka BA, PGCert, PhD, FHEA

Sarah A Liszka

Senior Lecturer, Applied Linguistics and Language Acquisition

Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities

Dr Sarah Liszka was educated at University College London where she obtained a first class honours degree in linguistics. She continued her studies at the University of Essex where she gained a PhD in language and linguistics, which was conferred in 2003. Her doctoral studies were supervised by Professor Roger Hawkins and funded by an ESRC Postgraduate Research Grant (Award Number: R00429924496).

Sarah has been teaching applied linguistics and language acquisition at the University of Greenwich since January 2012. Prior to this, she worked at the University of London Institute in Paris as a lecturer in applied linguistics and English (2003-07). From 2006 she was the head of the English department and was responsible for 29 academic members of staff in this bilingual and bicultural institution. She also worked as a part-time lecturer for Brunel University London (2011).

In terms of research, Sarah has developed her profile by investigating morphosyntactic and semantic development in adult second language acquisition within the generative grammar paradigm. She also works on the linguistic-pragmatic interface from a relevance theory perspective. As well as working on individual projects, she is collaborating with Professor Leah Roberts (University of York) on a project which investigates the L2 processing and acquisition of temporal phenomena. Similarly, she is working with Professor Ianthi Tsimpli, Dr Despina Papadopoulou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) and Professor Roberts on the role of morphological aspect in the processing of subject/object ambiguities in L2 English.

For the wider application of her research findings and as a member of the Applied Linguistics Research Group at the University of Greenwich, she is interested in developing language teachers' knowledge of second language acquisition, which in turn informs effective pedagogy. She has developed and delivered workshops which aim to give teachers a deeper understanding of the linguistic properties underlying tense and aspect forms, as well as an insight into why these features can remain persistently difficult even at high levels of proficiency.

  •   Internationalisation Grand Challenge Leader


  • Programme Leader, English Language and Literature
  • Applied Linguistics (teaching + joint course coordinator)
  • Language, Communication & Society (teaching + joint course coordinator)
  • Introduction to Language teaching (teaching + course coordinator)
  • Language Teaching: Design & Practice (teaching)
  • Europe Without Borders (seminar leader)
  • Foundations of Linguistics (acting course coordinator)
  • Meaning in Language (acting course coordinator)
  • Dissertation supervision.


  • Admissions Tutor for the Department of Social, Political and Cultural Studies.
  • Member of the editorial board for the journal International Review for Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching (IRAL). Mouton de Gruyter
  • Member of the editorial board for the book series of the European Second Language Association (EUROSLA). John Benjamins
  • Member of the EUROSLA Scientific Committee
  • Member of the BUCLD Scientific Committee
  • Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA)

Ad hoc reviewer for the following journals:

  • Language Learning
  • Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism
  • Second Language Research
  • The Linguist

Dr Liszka's research focuses on adult second language acquisition. She investigates the role of the first language in syntactic and semantic development, the linguistic-pragmatic interface, whether or not a 'critical period' exists and the nature of ultimate attainment. To date she has worked individually and collaboratively on the L2 acquisition of the English tense and aspect system.

In terms of academic impact, she has contributed to the ongoing debate on how much access a second language learner has to universal grammar if learning commences post-puberty, in order to explain selective fossilisation. Linked to this, the innovative work she is developing on the linguistic-pragmatic interface aims to contribute to a more composite account of SLA. For example, she considers potential L2 similarities and differences post-logical form for explicature formation and recovery depending on whether or not a linguistic feature is instantiated in the underlying grammar.

The work she is doing in collaboration is also with a view to contributing to a more integrated theory of SLA, by considering acquisition pathways and online parsing in both comprehension and production, i.e. how learners put their linguistic knowledge to use in real-time.

and () . Second Language Research. SAGE Publications. pp. 413-439. ISSN 0267-6583 ISSN 0267-6583

Browse our research at GALA

() . In: The Acquisition of the Present. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. pp. 57-86. ISBN 9789027212269

Browse our research at GALA

, , and (Eds.) (2016) . John Benjamins. ISBN 9789027200105 ISSN 1568-1491

Browse our research at GALA