Dr Sarah Ann Liszka BA, PGCertHE, FHEA, PhD

Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and Language Acquisition

Key details

Dr Sarah Ann Liszka

Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and Language Acquisition

Dr Sarah Ann Liszka joined the University of Greenwich in January 2012. She 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.

Sarah is the Programme Leader for the MA Applied Linguistics and MA TESOL In term of teaching, she currently leads five modules and co-leads two modules, teaching on seven modules across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, on subjects related to second language acquisition, applied linguistics and research methods. She supervises undergraduate, Masters' and PhD dissertations.  She is also an undergraduate and postgraduate Admissions Tutor for the School of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Sarah's research investigates second language acquisition, focussing on (morpho)syntactic and semantic development, the linguistic-pragmatic interface and second language processing. For the wider application of her research findings, Sarah has developed and leads a project that helps secondary school teachers to understand their EAL pupils' persistent difficulties with English grammar. She is also developing and leading a project related to healthy ageing, which examines the linguistic, cognitive and social effects on senior adults (60+) of learning a new language. Sarah is the editor of JESLA, the Journal of the European Second Language Association and a member of the association's Executive Committee.

Posts held previously:

  • 2003-2007, Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and English, University of London Institute in Paris.
  • Head of English Department (2006-07), University of London Institute in Paris.
  • 2010-2011, PT Lecturer, Brunel University, London.

Responsibilities within the university

Programme Leader for two MA programmes:

  • MA Applied Linguistics

Postgraduate supervision, module leading & teaching:

  • PhD Supervisor
  • MA Dissertation: Module Leader & Supervisor
  • MA Research Methods: Module Leader & Lecturer
  • MA Bilingualism: Module Leader

Undergraduate module leading, supervision & teaching:

  • Advanced Applied Linguistics (Level 6): Module Leader & Lecturer
  • Dissertation (Level 6): Supervisor
  • Language Teaching Design & Practice (Level 6): Lecturer
  • Applied Linguistics (Level 5): Co-module Leader & Lecturer
  • Language, Communication & Society (Level 4): Co-module Leader & Lecturer
  • Introduction to Language Teaching (Level 4): Module Leader & Lecturer

Admissions Tutor for:

  • MA Applied Linguistics
  • BA (Hons) English Language & English Language Teaching
  • BA (Hons) English Language & Literature
  • BA (Hons) Languages & International Relations


  • ESRC Postgraduate Research Grant (Award Number: R00429924496. PhD thesis title: "The development of tense and the present perfect in second language English".
  • University of Greenwich HEIF Seedling Fund 2018-19. Proof-of-concept project for the Healthy Ageing Industrial Challenge: "Investigating the benefits of learning a second language for healthy and active ageing in older adults".


  • Editor of JESLA, the Journal of the European Second Language Association (EUROSLA). 2017-present. https://www.euroslajournal.org/
  • Executive Committee member of EUROSLA. 2015- present.
  • Recent journal reviews include: Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics; International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching (IRAL); Language Learning; Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism; Second Language Research.
  • Recent Scientific Committee membership: Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD); EUROSLA Annual Conference; Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition (GALA); Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition (GASLA); Tense, Aspect & Modality in the L2 (TAML2).
  • External Examiner, University of Essex, MA Psycholinguistics. 2018-present.
  • PhD External Examiner, University of Essex, University of York.
  • HDR "Habilitation Diriger des Recherches" defence jury member (panel member for peer promotion to Research Professor in France), Université Savoie Mont Blanc, France, 2017.
  • Greenwich Certificate in Academic Programme Leadership, 2017-18, Institute of Leadership & Management (MInstLM).

Conference, Seminar and Workshop Organization

Sarah organised an Applied Linguistics Postgraduate Conference in 2014 and co-organised another (with the University of York) the following year. In 2016 she was again the co-organiser of an international conference on generative second language acquisition and foreign language teaching at the University of Greenwich.

Collaborative Research

Sarah has co-edited a collection of essays with colleagues from Montpellier and Aix-Marseille.

Research / Scholarly interests

Sarah's research focuses on second language acquisition. Working mainly within generative linguistics, she investigates the role of first language transfer in syntactic and semantic development, and age-related effects on acquisition. She also examines the linguistic-pragmatic interface from a relevance-theoretic viewpoint. In addition to second language acquisition, she is interested in real-time second language processing. To date, she has examined the acquisition of English with first language speakers of Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Japanese and Nepalese, both as a solo investigator and in collaboration with colleagues from the Universities of Cambridge, Essex, Thessaloniki and York. She is particularly interested in the second language acquisition of temporal phenomena.

For the wider application of her research findings, Sarah is the Principal Investigator of two projects:

1. Project Title: "Bridging the gap between linguistic theory & practice for teachers with EAL pupils"

Sarah has developed CPD workshops for secondary school teachers (Key Stages 3-5), who teach pupils with English as an additional language. These workshops aim to give teachers a deeper understanding of the linguistic properties underlying English grammar (e.g. tense and aspect forms) and an insight into why these features can remain persistently difficult even at high levels of proficiency. In turn, this knowledge helps to inform effective pedagogy. The workshops have recruited national and international participants, from a range of subject-specific backgrounds.

2. Project Title: "Investigating the benefits of learning a second language for healthy and active ageing in older adults"

Sarah has begun a new project investigating the linguistic, social and cognitive effects of learning a second language after the age of sixty. She has worked locally with seniors from the Nepalese / Ghurkha community in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, in association with the charities Age UK, Home Instead Senior Care Greenwich & Bexley and Skills & Care Greenwich and SSAFA. https://www.homeinstead.co.uk/greenwich-bexley/news-events/learning-a-second-language-for-healthy-and-active-ageing-in-older-adults/

From January 2017 to October 2019, Sarah was the Leader of the Applied Linguistics Research Group, having previously held the post of Deputy Leader.

Recent publications


Roberts, Leah and , Liszka, Sarah Ann (2019), Grammatical aspect and L2 learners’ on-line processing of temporarily ambiguous sentences in English: A self-paced reading study with German, Dutch and French L2 learners. SAGE Publications. In: , , , . SAGE Publications, Second Language Research, 37 (4) . pp. 619-647 ISSN: 0267-6583 (Print), 1477-0326 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0267658319895551).

Edited book

Liszka, Sarah Ann , Leclercq, Pascale, Tellier, Marion, Véronique, Georges Daniel (2016), EuroSLA Yearbook. John Benjamins. In: , , , . John Benjamins, EUROSLA Yearbook, 16 . pp. v-vi . ISBN: 9789027200105ISSN: 1568-1491 (Print), 1569-9749 (Online) (doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/eurosla.16.001ack) NB Item availability restricted.