Dr Sophia Skoufaki

Department of Language and Linguistics
Dr Sophia Skoufaki
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 873754

  • Location

    4.123, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    Monday 13:00-15:00



Sophia did her undergraduate studies in English at the University of Athens, Greece. She then did an MPhil and a PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge. Before coming to Essex, she worked as a lecturer in linguistics at the University of Greenwich and the Open University in the UK. She also conducted postdoctoral research on English learner corpus data at National Taiwan University. Between her degrees she worked as an English language teacher in Athens and in Cambridge and as an item writer for ASSET Languages, a language testing company in Cambridge. Her main research interest is the learning, teaching, and use of vocabulary in a second language. In her PhD research, she examined the comprehension, learning and teaching of English idiomatic expressions. While working as a postdoctoral researcher, she examined the role of vocabulary in second language oral fluency and writing quality. Her postdoctoral research is related to language testing because the data examined were past answers to a local proficiency examination. Sophia's current research examines a) L2 academic vocabulary learning and teaching, b) the comprehension of figurative language during reading, and c) how people come to perceive a text as coherent or not.


  • BA National and Kapodistrian University of Athens,

  • MPhil University of Cambridge,

  • PhD University of Cambridge,


University of Essex

  • Lecturer, Language and Linguistics, University of Essex (1/11/2010 - present)

  • Director of Research Students, University of Essex (1/9/2019 - 2/1/2020)

  • Assistant Director of Research Students, University of Essex (1/10/2018 - present)

  • Deputy Director of Education (Linguistics), University of Essex (1/1/2019 - 27/6/2019)

  • Undergraduate Admissions Coordinator (Linguistics), University of Essex (1/10/2014 - 5/4/2018)

  • Assistant Undergraduate Admissions Coordinator (Linguistics), University of Essex (1/9/2011 - 1/10/2014)

  • Disability Liaison Officer, University of Essex (1/10/2011 - 30/9/2014)

Other academic

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Graduate Institute of Linguistics, National Taiwan University (1/9/2008 - 31/7/2010)

  • Lecturer, Department of Languages and International Studies, University of Greenwich (3/9/2007 - 29/8/2008)

  • Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Education and Language Studies, Open University (7/1/2007 - 30/9/2008)

  • Visiting Lecturer, Department of Languages and International Studies, University of Greenwich (2/10/2006 - 31/5/2007)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Second language vocabulary learning, teaching, and use

Figurative language processing

Coherence in second language writing

Current research

Knowledge of English polysemous academic vocabulary

I am examining native and non-native undergraduate students knowledge of the meanings that English polysemous academic words have. This project is conducted in collaboration with Dr Bojana Petric (Birkbeck, University of London), Mr Weizhong Wu (Beihang University, China), and Dr Reka Jablonkai (University of Bath).

Conferences and presentations

Delineating polysemy in English academic vocabulary: a lexicographic and corpus analysis

Third International Conference on Corpus Analysis in Academic Discourse 2019 (CAAD’19), Castelló de la Plana, Spain, 14/11/2019

Let's talk business! Looking into the meaning senses of English academic words in Business journal articles

Invited presentation, Invited talk at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, United Kingdom, 30/10/2019

Examining polysemy in English academic vocabulary

British Association of Applied Linguistics 2019 conference, Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom, 30/8/2019

Investigating pre-sessional EAP students’ exposure to polysemous academic words.

BAAL Language Learning and Teaching SIG conference, Bath, United Kingdom, 28/6/2019

What are cognates? And what good are they for bilinguals?

Festival of Social Science, Colchester, United Kingdom, 3/11/2018

Skoufaki, S., Petric, B., and Chatsiou, K. (2018) Polysemous academic English vocabulary in an English for academic purposes presessional course. Exploring Language Education: Global and Local Perspectives conference. Stockholm, 18-20 June 2018.

Exploring Language Education (ELE): Global and Local Perspectives, Stockholm, Sweden, 20/6/2018

Skoufaki, S., Petric, B., and Chatsiou, K. (2017) British students' knowledge of polysemous academic English vocabulary. BAAL Vocabulary Studies SIG conference, Reading, 3-4 July 2017.

Reading, United Kingdom, 2017

Skoufaki, S. and Petric, B. (2017) An examination of British students knowledge of polysemous academic English vocabulary. 'Innovations in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) assessment' BAAL Testing, Evaluation and Assessment SIG 2017 conference, Northampton, 31 March 2017.

Northampton, United Kingdom, 2017

Skoufaki, S. (2016) Delineating the subjectivity of coherence-error intuitions: an application of Rhetorical Structure Theory to identify coherence errors in an English learner corpus. IWoDA16 Fourth International Workshop on Discourse Analysis, Santiago de Compostella, 29-30 September 2016.

Santiago de Compostela, Chile, 2016

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Understanding Data in Linguistics (LG113)

  • Exploring Second Language Vocabulary Instruction (LG328)

  • Second Language Vocabulary: Learning, Teaching and Use (LG428)

  • Teaching Practice I (LG521)

  • Research Methods (LG575)

  • Professional Development for Research Students (LG595)

  • Theory and Practice in English Language Teaching (LG667)

  • Research Methods II (LG675)

  • Language Expert 1 (LA041)

Previous supervision

Ahmad Abdullah M Al Fotais
Ahmad Abdullah M Al Fotais
Thesis title: Investigating the Effect of Spaced Versus Massed Practice on Vocabulary Retention in the Efl Classroom
Degree subject: Applied Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 29/7/2019
Manal Saleh M Alghannam
Manal Saleh M Alghannam
Thesis title: Teacher Rating of Class Essays Written By Students of English as a Second Language: A Qualititative Study of Criteria and Process.
Degree subject: Applied Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 7/9/2018
Chinedu Januarius Osuji
Chinedu Januarius Osuji
Thesis title: Cognitive and Metacognitive Strategy Use in First and Second Language Reading Comprehension
Degree subject: Applied Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 5/7/2017
Afnan Saleh S Farooqui
Afnan Saleh S Farooqui
Thesis title: A Corpus-Based Study of Academic-Collocation Use and Patterns in Postgraduate Computer Science Students' Writing
Degree subject: English Language Teaching
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 11/4/2016
Adnan Zeidan Mkhelif Mkhelif
Adnan Zeidan Mkhelif Mkhelif
Degree subject: Applied Linguistics
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 25/2/2016


Journal articles (6)

Skoufaki, S., (2020). Rhetorical Structure Theory and coherence break identification. Text and Talk: an interdisciplinary journal of language, discourse and communication studies. 40 (1), 99-124

Perez Urdaniz, R. and Skoufaki, S., (2019). Spanish L1 EFL learners’ recognition knowledge of English academic vocabulary: the role of cognateness, word frequency and length. Applied Linguistics Review. 0 (0)

Skoufaki, S., (2017). Review of Academic Vocabulary in Learner Writing: From Extraction to Analysis, Magali Paquot. Continuum, New York/London (2010). Journal of English for Academic Purposes. 30, 96-97

Skoufaki, S., (2009). An Exploratory Application of Rhetorical Structure Theory to Detect Coherence Errors in L2 English Writing: Possible Implications for Automated Writing Evaluation Software. International Journal of Computational Linguistics & Chinese Language Processing: Special issue in Computer Assisted Language Learning. 14 (2), 181-203

Skoufaki, S., (2008). Investigating the Source of Idiom Transparency Intuitions. Metaphor and Symbol. 24 (1), 20-41

Skoufaki, S., (2007). The Extent of the Literal: Metaphor, Polysemy and Theories of Concepts (review). Language. 83 (1), 227-228

Books (1)

Hall, D., Markopoulos, T., Salamoura, A. and Skoufaki, S., (2003). CamLing 2003: Proceedings of the University of Cambridge First Postgraduate Conference in Language Research, 26 April 2003.. Cambridge Institute of Language Research. 0954659805. 9780954659806

Book chapters (6)

Skoufaki, S., Chen, HKY., Huang, C-R., Cheng, W., Cheung, H., Harada, Y. and Hong, H., English Learner Corpus: Global Perspectives with an Asian Focus.. In: A New Look at Language Teaching and Testing: English as Subject and Vehicle.. 9-789572-876428

Skoufaki, S., (2013). Devising a discourse error tagging system for an English learner corpus.. In: Second language Reading and Writing: Investigations into Chinese and English.. Editors: Wible, D. and Reynolds, BL., . National Central University Press. 67- 93. 9789860368567

Cheung, H., Chung, S. and Skoufaki, S., (2010). Indexing second language vocabulary in the Intermediate GEPT. In: Proceedings of the Twelfth Academic Forum on English Language Testing in Asia (Language Testing in Asia: Continuity, Innovation and Synergy). Language Training and Testing Center. 118- 136

Skoufaki, S., (2009). Formulaic language and pauses in the speech of Taiwanese learners of English.. In: Proceedings of the 2009 International Conference on Applied Linguistics and Language Teaching. Crane Publishing Co., Taiwan. 190- 202

(2008). Conceptual metaphoric meaning clues in two idiom presentation methods. In: Cognitive Linguistic Approaches to Teaching Vocabulary and Phraseology. Mouton de Gruyter. 101- 132. 9783110196306

Skoufaki, S., (2005). Use of conceptual metaphors: A strategy for the guessing of an idiom’s meaning?. In: Selected Papers on Theoretical and Applied Linguistics from the 16th International Symposium, April 11-13, 2003. Editors: Mattheoudakis, M. and Psaltou-Joycey, A., . Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, School of English, Aristotle University. 542- 556

+44 (0) 1206 873754


4.123, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

Monday 13:00-15:00