As part of our getting to know us series, over the next few weeks our Survey members are going to answer five questions to tell you a bit about themselves. First up is Bas Aarts.
- What is your role at the Survey, and what led you to your current position here?
I have been the Director of the Survey since 1996. Previously I did a PhD in the Department of English at UCL. I now also work as a Professor of English Linguistics in the department and recently became Vice-Dean for Enterprise in the Arts and Humanities Faculty.
- What are your main areas of interest in linguistics, in five words?
Grammar, corpus linguistics, language use.
- What’s your favourite thing about working at the Survey?
Ever since its foundation the Survey has been a community of like-minded people with common interests in real language data, and how these data can be used in different areas of study, such as grammar, lexicology, statistics, language use and the teaching of grammar in schools. It’s a very stimulating work environment.
- What do you enjoy most about teaching?
If I manage to bring about an enthusiasm for the study of language, and grammar in particular, then I always feel very pleased. I see the study of grammar as a great way to practise problem-solving skills. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction when I notice that things have ‘clicked’ in the minds of students.
- And finally, what’s one way in which research in linguistics has applications to the real world?
For the last few years in the Survey we have worked on a website called Englicious. This is a free web-based platform that helps teachers in primary and secondary schools deliver the specifications for English language studies, and English grammar in particular, as laid down in the UK National Curriculum. The site contains a full outline of English grammar, lesson plans, exercises, a glossary, videos and much more. It’s very exciting to work on the project and to develop it further with my colleagues.