Dr Cécile Laval SFHEA, PhD, MA, PGDip, BA

Head of School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Dr Cécile Laval is the Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and is also an Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics and French.

Dr Laval has significant experience in research, teaching and management within Higher Education in the UK and in Europe. She was promoted to Head of School in 2022 and to Associate Professor in 2018. She is a senior academic in the fields of applied linguistics, second language acquisition and psycholinguistics applied to French as a second language. Her research and teaching interests are also in the area of instructed second language acquisition, foreign language teaching, blended learning, European studies, cultural diplomacy, Soft Power and international relations.

She is a member of the steering group for the Centre for Research and Enterprise in Language (CREL).

Responsibilities within the university

  • Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Portfolio lead
  • Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) Languages and International Relations
  • Overall Modern Foreign Languages co-ordinator
  • Joint co-ordinator for the university-wide Academic English for International Postgraduate students.
  • Member of the Learning and Quality Standard Committee (LQSC)
  • Member of the steering group for the Centre for Research and Enterprise in Language (CREL).

Undergraduate module leading, supervision & teaching:

  • Europe Without Borders (Level 4): Module Leader & Lecturer
  • Applied Linguistics (Level 5): Co-module Leader & Lecturer
  • French as a Foreign Language modules (level 1, level 2, level 3, level 4): Module Leader and Lecturer
  • French Language Research Project): Module Leader & Lecturer
  • Dissertation (Level 6): Supervisor
  • Language Soft Power and Cultural Diplomacy (Level 6): Lecturer

Postgraduate supervision, module leading & teaching:

  • PhD Supervisor
  • MA Dissertation Supervisor
  • MA Contemporary Issues in Second Language Acquisition: Module Leader & Lecturer

PhD supervision and completions:

Harriet Lowe - Explicit Information and cumulative effects of Processing Instruction in regards to the trainable aspect of Grammatical Sensitivity. Completed in 2020

Agnieszka Marciszewska - Processing Instruction: prior linguistic knowledge and typology in L3. Completed in July 2019

Stephanie Peter - Processing Instruction and working memory. Completed in July 2016.


University of Greenwich Excellence in Education Awards (2017). Winner of the award for outstanding contribution to the student experience in the Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Humanities.

University of Greenwich Student Led Teaching Awards - Supervisor of the Year Award (2016). Winner of the PhD Supervisor of the Year Award (Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Humanities)


  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2020)
  • Member of the Board of Trustees MyLifeMySay (2020-to date)
  • Elected Chair of the Board ofTrustees MyLifeMySay (2016-2020)
  • Member of the editorial board for Continuum Issues in Instructed Second Language Acquisition Research (CIISLAR).
  • French External Examiner - The Chartered Institute of Linguists (2016 – to date)
  • French External Examiner – Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
  • French External Examiner – Cardiff Metropolitan University (2014-2018)
  • French External Examiner - London School of Economics (LSE) (2011-2015)
  • French External Examiner – King’s College London (2007-2011)

Research / Scholarly interests

Dr Laval's research focuses on second language acquisition; notably, on how second language learners process incoming linguistic information at input level and more precisely in the research field of Processing Instruction. She has published in the area of second language acquisition, individual differences in second language acquisition and language instruction in renowned journal articles and numerous chapters in books.

She has given invited and plenary conference talks in universities in France, USA, Switzerland and in the UK. She is actively involved as a researcher in the areas of Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition.

Her most recent research incorporates eye-tracking methodology in which she provides an overview of the linguistic and physical design considerations necessary for creating eye-tracking materials in SLA research. The results findings in her latest study demonstrates the application of these design considerations in an eye-tracking study, comparing the changes in processing patterns between two types of instruction: Processing Instruction (PI) and Traditional Instruction (TI) on low intermediate second language adult learners’ acquisition of the French imperfect aspect. She documents the similarities and differences between how, when and to what second language learners of French allocate visual attention during sentences processing.

She is a member of the steering group for the Centre for Research and Enterprise in Language (CREL) and has successfully supervised four PhDs.

Key funded projects

CROIS Project - in collaboration with the School of Health and Social Care.
The CROIS Project (2011-2013, Cross Regional Opportunities: Improving Social Cohesion) has been selected within the scope of the INTERREG IV A France (Channel) – England cross-border European cooperation programme, co-financed by the European Regional Development.

It is a Cross Regional project (funded by the EU) between Amiens University, Kent County Council, Swale Borough Council, Charlton Institute and the University of Greenwich.
Dr Cécile Laval was a member of the Steering Group Committee and an active part of the team for translation, teaching material and language support.

Recent publications


Laval, Cécile and , Lowe, Harriet (2020), The use of eye-tracking in experimental approaches in second language acquisition research: the primary effects of Processing Instruction in the acquisition of the French Imperfect. Cambridge University Press. In: , , , . Cambridge University Press, Journal of French Language Studies, 30 (2) . pp. 189-210 ISSN: 0959-2695 (Print), 1474-0079 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959269520000046).

Laval, Virginie , Dardier, Virginie, Laval, Cécile, Monetta, Laura (2016), Does understanding of the other's intention fall under the influence of a negative bias?. Groupe d'études de psychologie. In: , , , . Groupe d'études de psychologie, Bulletin de Psychologie, 69 (542) . pp. 117-126 ISSN: 0007-4403 (Print), (doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3917/bupsy.542.0117).