1. Research Areas
  2. Language and Brain Laboratory
  3. Research Units
  4. Collaborative Interest Groups
  5. Student Projects & Research
  6. CPALS

Ongoing original research by faculty is the lifeblood of any vibrant university school or department.

Research Areas

The faculty of the School of Linguistics and Language Studies conducts cutting-edge research in the following areas:

Applied Language Studies

  • Teaching & acquisition of additional languages
  • Study & teaching of writing in academic & professional settings
  • Teaching work in its institutional contexts
  • Adult literacy practices &  learning in text-mediated society
  • Languages for specific purposes
  • English for academic purposes
  • Genre studies
  • Technical communication
  • Bilingualism & biliteracy
  • Language policy
  • Language curriculum
  • Language testing
  • Systemic functional linguistics
  • Critical discourse analysis
  • Fluency
  • Formulaic sequences & phraseology
  • Qualitative & quantitative methodologies in Applied Language Studies
  • Indigenous language maintenance
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Language & Media/Technology
  • Language & Identity
  • Sociology of Language
  • Multimodal Analysis

Theoretical Linguistics

  • Phonetics & phonology
  • Syntax and semantics
  • Structure of lesser-known languages (e.g. Saami, East Cree, Inuktitut)
  • Historical phonology & morphology
  • Optimality theory
  • Metrics
  • Prosody
  • Linguistic methodology
  • Psycholinguistics (sentence processing, language acquisition)
  • Neurolinguistics
  • Language & communication
  • Computational linguistics

Language and Brain Laboratory

The central goal of the Language and Brain Lab is to advance our understanding of the human language processing mechanism, i.e. the cognitive and neurological mechanisms used by humans to decode and interpret linguistic inputs.

Click here to visit the Language and Brain Laboratory website.

Research Units

The School of Linguistics and Language Studies currently operates two organized research units:

▶  Centre for Communication in Professional Activity (CCPA)

Director: Dr. Graham Smart

The Centre for Communication in Professional Activity (CCPA) offers research and consultancy services in the effective use of written communication in professional activity.

  • We draw on our expertise in the academic fields of linguistics and writing studies and in the study of communications more broadly.
  • Our focus is on written communication for purposes of accomplishing work, supporting learning, and prompting creativity and innovation.
  • We deal with written communication skills, practices and cultures at the level both of the individual and of the organization.
  • Potential clients include businesses, government departments, public services, NGO’s and educational institutions, mainly in the Ottawa area.

Our services can be delivered in two forms, though different customized arrangements are also possible:

  • Evaluations or ‘audits’ of written communication practices within an organization.
  • Training workshops and one-on-one tutoring.

Research underpinning the work

The Centre’s work is based on widely published and recognized research conducted by its members in two universities (Carleton and McGill) over more than ten years. This research has investigated the conditions that promote successful learning and adaptation by individuals and organizations as they experience change.

The team has been highly successful in winning research funding, having received two substantial grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Our research is closely linked with our graduate teaching in linguistics/communications, writing studies, semiotics and education.


The Centre’s associates are experienced researchers and teachers who are experts in the following areas:

  • the learning and use of specific forms of written communication (e.g. business and technical writing)
  • the integration of language with other means of communication (graphical, electronic etc.)
  • the creation of situations and cultures in offices, classrooms, laboratories etc., including social, physical and technological aspects, that promote the ready exchange of ideas and the maximization of learning, innovation and creative production
  • the efficient induction of interns and novices, and the retraining and continuing development of established professionals faced with changing work situations
  • teaching English for special purposes.

▶  Language Assessment and Testing Research Unit (LATRU)

Director: Dr. Angel Arias, Professor, Carleton University

Permanent Board Members
Bruno Zumbo, Professor, University of British Columbia
Timothy Pychyl, Associate Professor, Carleton University

Standing Members
Carolyn Turner, Associate Professor, McGill University
Liying Cheng, Associate Professor, Queen’s University

The Language Assessment and Testing Research Unit (LATRU) carries out research related to assessment and test development.

LATRU, under the Direction of Dr. Fox, engages in test development in both high and low stakes settings, and has overseen the development and initial validation of such tests as the Citizenship Application Test, the Oral Proficiency in English Communicative Settings (OPECS), the Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Assessment, and numerous placement tests for college and university language programs.

Current LATRU research projects include SSHRC funded studies of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programs in Canadian Universities (with Liying Cheng, Queen’s University; and Robert Berman, University of Alberta), and an examination of the impact of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) on second language (L2) learners (with Liying Cheng, Queen’s University; and Donald Klinger, Queen’s University). Dr. Fox is also engaged in research related to English language proficiency requirements for admission to tertiary programs (with Christine Doe, Queen’s University).

Collaborative Interest Groups

The faculty’s dedication to research and theory-building translates into a school with many opportunities for students to engage in original research that matches their own interests and experiences.

Student Projects & Research

An important aspect of the program is to involve students in original research and to encourage original contributions to the profession through presentations at conferences, and publication of their research and writing in various journals and publications.

Each year students from the SLaLS program present original papers at a variety of professional conferences held in Canada and occasionally the United States.

In some years, students have also organized mini-conferences to present their own research to their colleagues, professors and some of the professionals who work at SLaLS.

Previous graduate theses (since 2003) can be searched on the Graduate Studies website.


CPALS (Carleton Papers in Applied Language Studies) is an annual journal of working papers examining the underlying theoretical principles of language teaching, learning, and research. The editorial committee invites the submission of previously unpublished articles focusing on new developments and recent research findings in the field of applied language studies.

Of particular interest are such themes as:

  • approaches to communicative language teaching
  • syllabus design
  • pedagogical implications of research on writing
  • discourse analysis
  • computer-assisted learning.

While the editorial committee retains the right to select articles for inclusion in the Papers, it does not impose any copyright on those articles and reports which are published. Contributors are free to offer their work to other Journals or to publish separately.

Subscription Order Form

If you would like to order one or more volumes of the Carleton Papers in Applied Language Studies, please fill out the Subscription Order Form.

Current Volumes