Professor Tess Fitzpatrick
Department of Applied Linguistics
Telephone: (01792) 513270
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Tess Fitzpatrick is Professor of Applied Linguistics at Swansea University, and is Head of the Department of Applied Linguistics. She returned to Swansea in 2017 after five years at Cardiff University’s Centre for Language and Communication Research.

Tess’ research focuses on vocabulary processing, and she leads the Lexical Studies research group. Her work on second language vocabulary acquisition and testing is informed by her early career as an EFL teacher and teacher trainer. Through the development of a new methodology for lexical investigation, using associative responses, she has extended her lexical research to contexts of ageing, dementia, and word choices in medical care. Tess has lived in Wales for over thirty years, and her familiarity with this bilingual part of the UK feeds into her work.  Her current research role on a major Welsh corpus project is enhanced by this, and by her experience as a language teacher and learner.

Since 2011 Tess has directed a part-time distance PhD programme in Applied Linguistics, and supervises students investigating lexical approaches to language processing and language use.  In recent years these have included:

Jon Clenton: Exploring the construct of productive vocabulary with Lex30 (completed 2010)
Ian Munby: Development of a multiple response word association test  (completed 2011)
Mark Maby: Polysemy and depth of word knowledge (completed 2017)
John Racine: Investigating the L2 mental lexicon using word association data
Jeff Stewart: Item difficulty in vocabulary tests
Dale Brown: Acquisition of collocation knowledge in L2
Matthew Rooks: Language learner autonomy
Kimberly Klassen: Vocabulary load of proper nouns in L2 reading texts
Peter Thwaites: Individual differences in lexical storage
Tom Caton: Vocabulary acquisition and study abroad
Caroline Handley: Nonverbal influences on language processing
Andrew Wimhurst: The effect of presentation mode on word association responses

Tess was Chair of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) between 2015 and 2018. She is on the Editorial Boards of Applied Linguistics (OUP), Language Teaching (CUP), System: International Journal of Educational Technology and Language Acquisition (Elsevier), and Journal of the European Second Language Association - JESLA (White Rose University Press), and is a member of the IRIS Advisory Group (Instruments for Research into Second Languages - IRIS).

In 2017 she was awarded Fellowship of the Academy of Social Sciences for her work in lexical studies and in wider understanding of cognitive processes in language learning and education. 


  1. & (2018). Rapid Evidence Assessment: Effective Second Language Teaching Approaches and Methods.
  2. & Knowledge of word associations. In Milton, J. & Fitzpatrick, T. (Ed.), Dimensions of Vocabulary Knowledge. (pp. 92-105). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  3. & Making Sense of Learner Performance on Tests of Productive Vocabulary Knowledge. TESOL Quarterly
  4. & Establishing the Reliability of Word Association Data for Investigating Individual and Group Differences. Applied Linguistics 36(1), 23-50.
  5. & (Eds.). Dimensions of Vocabulary Knowledge. Palgrave Macmillan.

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  • ALE317 Research Project Preparation (Linguistics)

    This module prepares students for the dissertation which is written in the module ENA301. It introduces students to a range of methodologies used in research in general and in applied linguistics in particular and prepares them for the conducting and writing up of their own piece of research.

  • ALE318 Research Project (Linguistics)

    In this module, students will conduct an empirical research project in Linguistics under supervision. This will entail collecting and analyzing data, as well as writing up their projects in an 8,000 word dissertation.


  • The mental lexicon: How do linguistic and conceptual representations interact? (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Vivienne Rogers
  • The title: What effect does short term Study Abroad (SA) have on learners’ vocabulary knowledge? remains appropriate at this time.«br /» (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof Jim Milton
  • Strategic Bilingualism: identifying optimal context for Welsh as a second language in the curriculum (KS3-4) (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Mr Steven Morris
  • The effect of presenting cue words in spoken and written form on response behaviour. (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Mr Steven Morris
  • Code-switching, borrowing, and minority language evolution. (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Mr Steven Morris
  • Case studies in pronoun use, lexical profiles and working memory in Alzheimer's Patients. (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Vivienne Rogers
  • 'Assessing the dimensionality of common constructs of L2 vocabulary knowledge.' (awarded 2018)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof Jim Milton

Key Grants and Projects

  • Corpws Cenedlaethol Cymraeg Cyfoes (The National Corpus of Contemporary Welsh): A community driven approach to linguistic corpus construction 2016 - 2019

    ESRC Research Grant Co-creator and Co-Investigator

  • Linguistic profiles of dementia in multilinguals 2016 - 2019

    Research Council Norway & Oslo University Co-Investigator

  • Investigating propositional density as a linguistic marker of Alzheimer’s disease risk 2015 - 2016

    Wellcome Project Co-Investigator

  • Looking for early linguistic markers of future Alzheimer’s disease 2014 - 2016

    Alzheimer’s BRACE Award Co-Investigator

  • Tracking lexical retrieval behaviour in semantic dementia 2011 - 2012

    EPSRC Bridging the Gaps Escalator Fund Award Principal Investigator

  • Profiling the mental lexicon: Psycholinguistic phenotyping of lexical retrieval preferences through an analysis of word association behaviour 2010 - 2012

    ESRC Small Grant Principal Investigator