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Dr Robert Vanderplank

Emerita/Emeritus Fellow, Fellow

Research Centre Director

Director Centre for the Study of Lifelong Language Learning

BA Kent, MA status Oxford, PhD Edinburgh

Robert Vanderplank is Director of the Kellogg College Centre for the Study of Lifelong Language Learning. Until his recent retirement, he was Director of the University Language Centre,  where he was responsible for a programme of year-round and short courses in fourteen languages attended by over 3,000 students and staff of the University and colleges, and a large language library with print, audio, video and computer-based materials for independent study in over 190 languages.  In addition, he taught topics in applied linguistics on the MSc course in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition at the Department of Education, where he remains an associate and a member of the Applied Linguistics Research Group.

His main research interests are in lifelong language learning, second language maintenance and attrition, learner autonomy, and television and language learning.  He has published research on educational technology, adult language learning, listening comprehension, learner strategies, supra-segmental phonology, and the value of closed captions/teletext subtitles for language teaching and learning.  His interest in the differences and similarities of languages and cultures led him to write Uglier Than a Monkey’s Armpit: Untranslatable insults, put-downs and curses from around the world (Boxtree, 2007), a must-read for all those interested in how people really speak to and about one another in forty languages. His most recent publication is Captioned Media in Foreign Language Learning and Teaching: Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing as Tools for Language Learning (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). This book brings together current thinking on informal language learning and the findings of over 30 years of research on captions (same language subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) to present a new model of language learning from captioned viewing and a future roadmap for research and practice in this field.