Professor Tess Fitzpatrick
Department of Applied Linguistics
Telephone: (01792) 513270
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Room: Office - 328
Third Floor
Keir Hardie Building
Singleton Campus

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. Recent students include:

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 (completed 2019)
Jeff Stewart: Item difficulty in vocabulary tests (completed 2018)
Dale Brown: Acquisition of collocation knowledge in L2 (completed 2018)
Kimberly Klassen: Vocabulary load of proper nouns in L2 reading texts (completed 2018)
Peter Thwaites: Individual differences in lexical storage (completed 2019)
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. Fitzpatrick, T., Baynham, M., Cook, G., Hunston, S., Mitchell, R., Myers, G. The Engagement of BAAL – and Applied Linguistics – with Policy and Practice Wright, C., Harvey, L. and Simpson, J.(Ed.), Voices and Practices in Applied Linguistics: Diversifying a Discipline 13 31 York White Rose University Press
  2. Fitzpatrick, T., Morris, S., Clark, T., Mitchell, R., Needs, J., Tanguay, E., Tovey, B. Rapid Evidence Assessment: Effective Second Language Teaching Approaches and Methods
  3. Fitzpatrick, T., Clenton, J. Making Sense of Learner Performance on Tests of Productive Vocabulary Knowledge TESOL Quarterly 51 4 844 867
  4. Fitzpatrick, T., Playfoot, D., Wray, A., Wright, M. Establishing the Reliability of Word Association Data for Investigating Individual and Group Differences Applied Linguistics 36 1 23 50

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  • ALE122 Applied Linguistics: Uncovering Language Myths and Linguistic Truths

    This module introduces students to a range of deep-rooted myths and misconceptions about language, which are widespread among the general public or perpetuated by popular media. It invites students to critically examine the claims surrounding these myths and the evidence from empirical findings. The module guides students to gain an informed understanding of the issues implicated in these myths and become an informed consumer of popular science. Myths and misconceptions considered in the module will range from issues concerning the nature of language, to issues in language processing, language acquisition, and language use. Students will be introduced to tools for conducting principled searches on published materials on these myths, including popular science reports (e.g., magazine and newspaper articles) as well as academic sources (including reviews and empirical reports). Students will be expected to synthesize research-based findings surrounding these issues, and present them in written and oral assignments.

  • ALE317 Doing a Research Project

    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 effect of cue word mode on response behavior in word association tasks. (current)

    Other supervisor: Mr Steven Morris
  • The title: What effect does short term Study Abroad (SA) have on learners’ vocabulary knowledge? «br /»«br /»«br /» (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Jim Milton
  • Making pedagogical links between languages: exploring how teachers respond to the interdisciplinary challenges in the Languages, Literacy and Communication AoLE. (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Alma Harris
  • Purism and populism: The contested roles of code-switching and borrowing in minority language evolution. (current)

    Other supervisor: Mr Steven Morris
  • The mental lexicon: How do linguistic and conceptual representations interact? (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Vivienne Rogers
  • Strategic Bilingualism: identifying optimal context for Welsh as a second language in the curriculum (KS3-4) (current)

    Other supervisor: Mr Steven Morris
  • Case studies in pronoun use, lexical profiles and working memory in Alzheimer's Patients. (awarded 2019)

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

    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