Catalina Mihaela Sirbu

Catalina Mihaela Sirbu

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    Personal profile


    My professional background is in education. I taught in primary schools for twenty-five years in my country of origin, Romania. After relocating, one of the positions I held dear was that of a Multilingual Assistant with the Ethnic Minorities Achievement Service (EMAS) by the Coventry City Council. I worked alongside my studies and visited nurseries across the city to support children arriving from Romania with their transition into the English educational system. The closest I got to teaching English for Academic Purposes was a 5-week Pre-sessional English course last summer.
    My academic background is in English language teaching and applied linguistics. During my BA, I studied topics related to English and teaching it as a foreign language. In early 2022, I graduated from Coventry University with an MA in English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics (ELT/AL). My MA dissertation project investigated my academic prose development. My thesis employed a corpus compiled of my student assignments as submitted over four years whilst doing two degrees; it applied the form-function framework that hypothesises five stages of student academic writing development and an increase in the use of phrasal structures modifying the noun as the level of study progresses.
    In September 2022, I returned to Coventry University as a postgraduate Master of Arts by Research (MAR) student. My MAR project is to build the Romanian Academic Written English (RoAWE) corpus. The research behind the design and construction of RoAWE builds upon the British Academic Written English (BAWE) research. I will carry out my project under the joint supervision of two well-known researchers I met on my MA. My Director of Studies, Professor Sheena Gardner, is one of the directors conducting the project leading to the creation of BAWE, which RoAWE plans to supplement. My other supervisor, Doctor Benet Vincent, is one of the team members on the BAWE QuickLinks project, designed to raise student awareness of how English works.
    More, RoAWE will support my research aiming to identify, measure and describe how the academic English employed by Romanian students in the UK develops across levels of study, disciplines, genres and registers. Additionally, besides BAWE, it intends to complement other existing corpora compiled of student Romanian academic English prose as collected from Romania and English-speaking countries other than the UK. Lastly, but not least importantly, my current project paves the way for my PhD project.  

    Research Interests

    My research interests primarily relate to Corpus Linguistics (CL) and the analysis of student academic prose, including areas such as the linguistic change in a field such as Academic Written English (AWE), often misperceived as somewhat static. Moreover, I am interested in student second language academic writing development stages and associated features, contrastive analyses of the English - Romanian pair of languages, and the various measures of successful student academic prose. Additionally, I am increasingly interested in diving deeper into CL statistics. Finally, I am interested in discourse analysis, irreverence and whether the latter should remain taboo when teaching (through the medium of) English at the tertiary level, the pragmatics of politeness, language and gender, and language, identity and migration.
    My current research aims to enhance the existing corpora comprising student AWE text collected from students whose first language is Romanian. In addition, it will further contribute to our understanding of the development of student AWE proficiency by tapping into an important yet somewhat under-researched group of students (Romanian students in higher education in the UK) and bringing new insights and perspectives to the already available corpora resources comprising student academic text.

    Education/Academic qualification

    English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics , MA, Student L2 Academic Writing Development: A Self-reflective Exploration of Grammatical Complexity , Coventry University

    14 Sept 202012 Sept 2021

    Award Date: 29 Mar 2022

    English and Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Degree, The Romanian Speaker of English as a Second Language in the United Kingdom: Common Areas of Difficulty , Coventry University

    25 Sept 201717 May 2020

    Award Date: 9 Sept 2021


    • PE English
    • Academic Writing
    • Corpus Linguistics
    • P Philology. Linguistics
    • PC Romance languages


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