Dr Gibson Ferguson

Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

email : g.r.ferguson@shef.ac.uk


My research interests within applied linguistics are wide-ranging covering language policy, global English, English for specific purposes, urban multilingualism, language teacher education and pedagogical grammar.

My first degree in philosophy and history from Keele was followed by a period teaching with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in northern Malawi, and then several further years working in western Zambia. My experiences there sparked an interest in language and education and I went on to take a M.Sc and then a PhD in applied linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. I then joined the staff of the university teaching both at the Institute for Applied Language Studies (IALS) and the then Department of Applied Linguistics. Finally in September 2000 I joined the School of English at the University of Sheffield and devised the MA in Applied Linguistics with TESOL programme of which I am currently the course director.


My main area of research is language policy and planning with a particular focus on the spread of English as a global lingua franca and the linguistic, cultural and socio-political implications (see recent publications). I have also recently been engaged in investigating language and identity practices in the Sheffield Yemeni community. Meanwhile, I maintain an active interest in language teaching issues and in the use of corpora to explore language in professional/academic communities.


I enjoy teaching on the MA in Applied Linguistics with TESOL programme, offering modules on English Grammar and Discourse, Language Planning and Education, Language Testing, English for Specific Purposes and Research Methods. At undergraduate level I teach modules on Language Politics and Planning and on TESOL.

I have also over my career built up substantial international teaching and consultancy experience with the British Council, DFID (Department for International Development) and other agencies working in such places as Mozambique, West Bank and Gaza, Hungary, Poland, Cuba, Bulgaria, Spain and China.


Over my career I have supervised 12 PhD students through to the successful completion of their degrees and am currently supervising a further 5 PhD candidates. I welcome PhD applicants with an interest in applied linguistics particularly in the fields of language policy/sociolinguistics, global English, language teaching methodology, and English for Specific Purposes.

Selected Recent Publications


  • Ferguson, G. (2006) Language Planning in Education Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
  • Trappes-Lomax, H. and Ferguson, G. (eds) 2002 Language in Language Teacher Education. Amsterdam: John Benjamins

Chapters and Articles

  • Ferguson, G. (in press) ‘English in Language Policy and Management’. To appear in Spolsky, B. (ed) Cambridge Handbook of Language Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Ferguson, G. (in press) English for Medical Purposes. In Paltridge, B and S. Starfield (eds) The Handbook of English for Specific Purposes. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Ferguson, G. (in press) English, Development and Education: charting the tensions. In Erling, E. and P. Seargeant eds) English and International Development. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
  • Ferguson, G. (in press) English as a lingua franca of business: issues and challenges. In Llantada, C and Watson, M. (eds) Specialised Languages in the Global Village. Cambridge: Cambridge Sholars Press.
  • Ferguson, G., Pérez-Llantada, C., Plo, R. (2011) ‘English as an international language of scientific publication: a study of attitudes’. World Englishes 30,1, 41-59.
  • Pérez-Llantada, C., Ramón, Plo, and Ferguson,G. (2010) “You don’t say what you know, only what you can”: The perceptions and practices of senior Spanish academics regarding research dissemination in English. English for Specific Purposes 29, 4, doi:10.1016/j.esp.2010.05.001
  • Ferguson, G. (2009) 'What next? Towards an agenda for classroom code-switching
    research’ International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 12, 2, 231 – 241
  • Ferguson, G. (2009) Issues in researching English as a lingua franca: a conceptual enquiry. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 19, 2, 119-135
  • Ferguson, G. (2008) Multilingual Sheffield. in Kenner, C. and Hickey, T. (eds) Multilingual Europe: diversity and learning. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books.
  • Ferguson, G. (2007) The Global Spread of English, scientific communication and ESP: questions of equity, access and domain loss.’ Ibérica 13, 1, 7-38.
  • Ferguson, G. (2003) Classroom code-switching in post-colonial contexts: functions, attitudes and policies’ in Makoni, S. and Meinhof, U. (eds) 2003 Africa and Applied Linguistics: AILA review 16. Amsterdam :John Benjamins. pp 38-51