Research focus: Dr Julia Snell
Hi Julia, your primary research interest is sociolinguistics of identity as well as education, and you are now working as a Lecturer in the Department of Education & Professional Studies at King’s. What brought you to your current research?
I’ve been interested in the relationship between language and identity for a long time. Years before I decided to do research in this area, I had first-hand experience of being a working-class northern lass leaving home for the first time to go to University and coming into contact with people who had backgrounds (and ways of speaking) that were quite different to mine. Several years later, when I decided to do a PhD, I wanted to explore issues related to language and social class further.
My doctoral research focused on children’s peer-group language in two socially differentiated primary schools in the north-east of England, but I couldn’t help but also think a lot about educational practice, as for example how children and teachers interact in the classrom. This became the subject of my work as a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Education. Over the course of my career I have built up knowledge within two main strands, sociolinguistics and education, which I am now seeking to bring together.
"The best thing about DEPS is the people working here. I’m very lucky to have colleagues who inspire, challenge and support me all at once!"
What is the best thing about being based in the Department of Education & Professional Studies at King’s?
The best thing about DEPS is the people working here. I’m very lucky to have colleagues who inspire, challenge and support me all at once! As a sociolinguist who is also very interested in education and wider issues relating to public policy, I can’t think of a better place to be based.
What are you researching on at the moment and what are your plans for the future?
One of my aims is to find a way to bring the two strands of my research, sociolinguistics and education, together in order to translate my sociolinguistic findings into educational impact.
My doctoral work uncovered the creative and complex ways in which working-class children draw upon the resources of their local dialect in addition to standard English. I’m currently using these findings to try to challenge the deficit-oriented perspectives on working-class language that are once again becoming prominent in discussions of young people’s language in media discourse and some educational policy documents.
"My research joins a wealth of other research at SSPP, all of which contributes to developments in education policy and in public and professional discourse."
You are based in the School of Social Science & Public Policy, can you tell me a bit about how your work engages with policy / culture / society?
My research joins a wealth of other research at SSPP, all of which contributes to developments in education policy and in public and professional discourse. More specifically, I am working on a book (with Adam Lefstein), Better than “Best Practice”: Developing dialogic pedagogy, which is aimed at teachers and teacher educators, and which we hope will become a useful resource for teacher professional development in the future.
Dr Julia Snell is a Lecturer in Descriptive and Socio Linguistics at the Department of Education and Professional Studies and a member of the co-ordinating committee for the UK Linguistic Ethnography forum, a Special Interest Group of the British Association of Applied Linguistics.