Positions in University:

Assistant Director of Research (ADR) in Applied Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, Modern and Medieval Languages Faculty, 1975-1990

Director, Language Centre, 1990-2000

Senior Research Fellow in Second Language Education, Education Faculty, 2000-2012   

Positions in College:

Governing Body Fellow, Class A, Lucy Cavendish College 1993 - 2012

Secretary of the Fellowship Committee, Lucy Cavendish College 1995 -2001.

Council: Elected member 2010-2012

Emeritus Fellow: From 2012

Degrees and Honours:

Maitrise-es-Lettres, Nancy 2 ( France), M.A., Cambridge,  PhD, O.U

Open University, School of Education, 1992 - Ph.D. Thesis: 'Native/Non-Native Interaction: Foreigner Talk’

Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques for Services to Education (French Government) 1993

Membership of Professional Bodies / Associations

  • Elected member of the Executive Committee of the Association of University Language Centres (AULC) 1992-2000      
  • Founding team of CERCLES, the European Association of Languages Centres in Higher Education (1992-2000)
  • British Association in Applied Linguistics (BAAL).
  • BAAL SIGs: Language Teaching  and Learning, Languages in Africa
  • Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée (AILA)
  • Association for French Language Studies (AFLS)


Dr Edith Esch started her career at the Centre de Recherches et d’Applications Pedagogiques en Langues (CRAPEL). She came to Cambridge to the Department of Linguistics in 1974, took up the post of ADR in Applied Linguistics and in 1990, became the Founding Director of the University Language Centre. She became Senior Research Fellow in Second Language Education the Faculty of Education in 2000 and was on the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) European Studies Panel for the Higher Education Funding Council for England in  both 1996 and in 2001. She is currently Emeritus Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College. Her main current research is in second language education with a special interest in the influence of the British and French pedagogical cultures in post-colonial contexts especially in Africa where both are in contact. These sociolinguistic and sociocultural themes in education result from her life-long interest in bilingualism, cross-linguistic communication, and factors of language change. She was invited to speak at the 18th Commonwealth Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Mauritius in 2012.

Research Interests

Language planning and development, in particular on the interaction between pedagogical cultures and school improvement in Sub-Saharan Africa. Dr Esch currently works with Dr Sebuyongo from Makerere University in Uganda (CAPREX Fellowship) in the framework of the Cambridge-Africa Programme.

Course involvement in the University of Cambridge:

Education Faculty: Contributed to the development of the M. Phil on Research in Second Language Education and Educational Research.

Supervision: Supervised an average of six PhD students and three M. Phil students every year since 2000 and regularly acted as International Adviser for young researchers in developing countries ( e.g. Leila Lyldyz.’s Junior Fellowship on Kazakhstan, CARTI programme).

Modern and Medieval Languages Faculty:  For fifteen years, Dr Esch taught and supervised for the Department of Linguistics on second language learning and teaching, applied linguistics and bilingualism and actively participated in the teacher development program of the Faculty of Modern Languages when oral examinations were introduced in the degree.

The development of language programs integrating new technologies and designed for non-specialists was a major professional focus both in Nancy and in Cambridge.

Publications (selected):

Harding-Esch, E. (ed.),1977, Self-Directed Learning and Autonomy, CRAPEL/ University of Cambridge Department of Linguistics, 1-167.

Esch E. (ed.), 1994, Self-Access and the Adult Learner, CILT, London, pp. 1-166.

Harding-Esch, E. and Riley, P. (2003) The Bilingual Family: A Handbook for Parents, CUP, pp. 1-190 (Revised second edition).

Esch, E. (2002) ’My Dad’s auxiliaries’. In: Jones, M. , and Esch, E. (eds.) Language Change: The Interplay of Internal, External and Extra-Linguistic Factors. Berlin, Mouton de Gruyter, Contributions to the Sociology of Language, pp 111-139.

Esch, E. (2005) ‘Representations of English amongst French adolescents in Senegal’. In Cortese G. and A. Duszak (eds.) Identity, Community , Discourse: English in Intercultural Settings, Linguistic Insights  233-265 pp., Berne, P.Lang.

Esch, E.  (2007) ‘Français d’ailleurs: the pluricentricity of French Identities?’ in  Bennet W. and Jones, M. (eds.) The French Language and Questions of Identity, Legenda.  ISBN-13:  978 1 904350 68 2 ( Modern Humanities Research Associatoin /Maney Publishing)

Esch, E. (2008) ‘Researching Language Education in Cameroun’ in: K. Harrow and K. Mpoche (eds.) Language, Literature and Education in Multicultural Societies: Collaborative Research on Africa,  pp.24-46. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Esch, E. (2010) ‘Epistemic Injustice and the Power to Define: Interviewing Cameroonian Primary School Teachers about Language Education’ in:  Christopher  Candlin and Jonathan Chrichton (eds.) Discourses of Deficit , pp.235-255. Palgrave, Macmillan.

Esch, E. (2012)  ‘English and French Pedagogical Cultures: Convergence and Divergence in Cameroonian Primary School Teachers’ Discourse’ Comparative Education, Vol. 48, No 3. August 2012, 303-321.

Esch, E. and Solly, M. (eds.) 2012. The Sociolinguistics of Second Language Education in International Contexts ,  Linguistic Insights Series No 141, Berne, P. Lang.

Solly M. and Esch, E. (eds) 2014. Language Education and the challenges of Globalisation: Sociolinguistic Issues, Newcastle,  Cambridge Scholars Publishing.