Dr Leesa Clarke

Senior Lecturer in Linguistics

School of Languages & Linguistics

E: l.clarke@yorksj.ac.uk

T: 01904 876301

BSc (York), MSc (York), PhD (York), FHEA, C.Psychol, AFBPsS

I am a lecturer in the Department of Languages and Linguistics and specialise in clinical aspects of linguistics.  I teach on both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and am Course Leader for our new MSc Clinical Linguistics programme which will be running from September 2017.

My background is in Psychology of Language, Literacy and Cognition. 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 more passionately about.

Outside work, I live in a small village about 12 miles from York, with my husband, two boys who are 6 and 9, two cats, three guinea pigs and a load of tropical fish.  They keep me very busy, but if I am lucky enough to get any free time I enjoy music, playing tennis, watching comedy, and trying out different crafts. 

Further Information


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.

Professional Activities

I have a broad interest in typical and atypical language development, and disorders 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 reading, and the impact this has on the development of reading comprehension.  I am also looking at gender differences in literacy acquisition, and how teaching materials can be manipulated to facilitate literacy development in both genders.

I am interested in finding out more about the mediators of acquisition of good reading comprehension skills, the impact of environmental factors and emotion on acquisition of language, literacy and numeracy, and the effect of learning sign language on hearing babies’ early speech acquisition.  I also 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.

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

I am a member of the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR), British Association of Applied Linguistics, and their special interest group BAAL-TEASIG. 

Research & Publications

Papers, book chapters and conference proceedings

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

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.


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