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Staff Profile

Dr Leesa Clarke

Senior Lecturer

Leesa Clarke

I am a Senior Lecturer in Language and Linguistics and my focus is on clinical and educational aspects of linguistics.  I teach on both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, as well as supervising research at BA, MA and PhD level.  I am the Learning Support Lead for Language and Linguistics, and also a member of the School Ethics Panel.

My background is in Psychology of Language, Literacy and Cognition, and I am an HCPC registered Educational Psychologist. My main teaching and research areas are in the fields of typical and atypical development of language and cognition.  I am interested in child speech, language and literacy acquisition - for my PhD research, supervised by Professor Margaret Snowling at The University of York, I focused on how children with reading disabilities affecting either decoding or comprehension performed in a range of tasks involving the generation of inferences.

Prior to working in academia, I worked for 8 years in Pharmaceutical Sales and Marketing, after obtaining a BSc in Management Sciences from the University of Manchester.  I changed career in 2000, after deciding that I wanted to take things in a different direction and work in a field that I felt really passionate about.



LAL4001M English Language and Linguistics
2LL300 Linguistic Diversity in the Classroom
2LL306 Language at Work
2LL307 Language and Literacy
3LL206 Speech and Language Pathology
3LL207. Reflections and Connections in Linguistics

LAL7012M/LAL7013. Research Methods
LAL7023M Case Studies in Language & Social Justice

On the BA ELL programme I am Module Director for the 3rd Year Module, Speech and Language Pathology, 2nd Year modules Language at Work, and Language and Literacy.

I am module director for Language and Cognition on the MA ELL programme and am developing new modules for our new MSc Clinical Linguistics Programme.

I supervise BA and MA dissertations, and also MA by Research and PhD.

Professional Activities

Member of British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) and the special interest group BAAL-TEASIGMember of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR)Associate member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy. Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

I am an HCPC Registered Educational Psychologist, and conduct educational assessments of children’s reading, language and cognition.  I take private referrals on an occasional basis.

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Research & Publications

Papers, book chapters and conference proceedings

Sztencel, M., & Clarke, L. (2018) Deontic commitments analysis of conditional promises and threats. Language and Cognition, 10, 435-466.

Cummings, L & Clarke, L (2016) Reshaping the linguistics curriculum:  Different models for the delivery of linguistics education.  Bulletin December 2016, pp12-14

Clarke, L. Inference Generation and Reading Disability:  Far From Simple?  Dyslexia Review,  Summer/Autumn 2013.

Wright, B, Clarke, N, Jordan, J, Young, A, Clarke, P, Miles, J, Nation, K, Clarke, L, & Williams, C. (2008) Emotion recognition in faces and the use of visual context information in young people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism, 12(6), pp607-626.

Conference talks and poster presentations

Kelly, C & Clarke, L.J., (2018). Getting the Picture:  An investigation into children with Autism’s ability to comprehend figurative language.  Poster Presented at British Association of Applied Linguistics Annual Conference, 6-8 September 2018.  York St John University.

Clarke, L.J., Jones, C., Steel, C., Potts, M., & Tuckey, A. (2015)  What is Reading For?  Do all KS1 children actually know we read for meaning?  Preliminary Findings. Poster Presented at Child Language Symposium, 20-21 July 2015, University of Warwick.

Clarke, L.J. & Snowling, M.J. (2006). Individual Differences in automatic inference processing:  the effects of reading disability.  Presentation given at Centre for Reading and Language Annual Summer Workshop, June 2006.

Clarke, L.J. & Snowling, M.J. (2006). Reading Difficulty and Automatic Processing of Emotion State Inferences. Poster presented at the BPS Developmental Section Annual  Conference, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey, 7-9 September 2006.

Clarke, L.J. & Snowling M.J. (2005). Do children make inferences about fictional characters’ emotional states during reading? Paper presented at the 4th European Graduate School on Reading Research, Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands, 2005.

Clarke, L.J. & Snowling, M.J. (2004). Do children make inferences about fictional characters’ emotional states during reading?  Poster presented at BPS North East Branch Postgraduate Student Conference 2004, York St. John University.  First prize winner in postgraduate student poster competition.



Carter, R. (Feb 2019 to date) Non-Verbal Accent Acquisition: An investigation into the presence of regional accent features in the vocalisations of people with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities, MA by research.

Wijeratne, T. (PhD due for submission in 2020) Bilingualism in Down syndrome- The effectiveness of contextualised topic-specific L2 vocabulary teaching in a mainstream classroom.

Beesley, T. (2019) Social Development within Learning Communities:  A linguistic study of the lower primary years. MA by Research

Research interests

I have a broad interest in typical and atypical language development, and key factors that affect oral and written language learning and cognition throughout the lifespan.

My current research activity is focused on looking at children’s relationship with literacy in terms of their attitudes and motivation and understanding of its purpose. Following on from this I am interested in furthering our understanding of the impact this may have on the development of reading comprehension and written language skills.

I am also looking at gender differences in literacy acquisition, and how teaching materials can be developed that facilitate literacy development equally for all. Additionally I have an interest in design and implementation of assessments of reading, language and cognition.  I would be interested in supervising student projects in any of these areas.

In terms of pedagogic research I’m interested in how learning disabilities are managed in Higher Education, and also factors that contribute to developing graduates’ employability.

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