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Sam Barclay

Sam Barclay

Senior Lecturer

School of Arts & Humanities

Staff Group(s)
EFL/TESOL Arts and Humanities


I am a Senior Lecturer in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). My teaching and research largely focus on vocabulary learning, instruction, and assessment, and course and materials design. I teach on the following undergraduate and postgraduate modules:

  • Language and Everyday Life (UG)
  • Problems of Language (UG)
  • Second Language Acquisition (UG)
  • Analysing Second Language Learning (PG)
  • Designing Courses and Assessments (PG)
  • Research Methods (PG)
  • Teaching and Assessing Vocabulary (PG)

I also supervise BA and MA dissertation projects on aspects of second language acquisition, with a particular focus on teaching and learning vocabulary. I am the materials and assessment lead for the Pre-sessional English for Academic Purposes (PEAP) course. In this role, I develop the teaching materials and language assessment suite used on PEAP, conduct teacher training sessions, and oversee the assessment practices of the course.

Read an interview I did about my role and the benefits of studying an English language teaching degree.

Career overview

Before moving to NTU, I was a lecturer in English for Academic Purposes at the Graduate School of Science and Technology at Ehime University, Japan where I developed the curriculum, materials, and testing programmes. Prior to that, I taught and developed EAP materials for the general education programme at Ehime University. I’ve also taught in China, Europe, and North America.

I have a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the UCL Institute of Education and an MA in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching from the University of Nottingham. My PhD considered the role of various factors on the learning and forgetting of second language vocabulary knowledge.

I am a committee member of the following organisations:

I am a member of the following organisations:

Research areas

My research focuses on the teaching, learning, and assessment of vocabulary in a second or foreign language. More specifically, I am interested in examining the role that several factors play in moderating the effectiveness of different teaching and learning methodologies. My recent research has examined the impact of intralexical, contextual, and individual factors on the learning burden and decay rate of second language vocabulary knowledge. I also conduct research into EAP materials design and am especially interested in course evaluation practices and the development of robust systems to measure the effectiveness of teaching materials.

I supervise PhD proposals in the areas of second and foreign language vocabulary acquisition and course design and assessment.

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil/PhD exist in the School of Arts and Humanities and further information may be obtained from the NTU Doctoral School.

External activity

My external roles include:

  • Reviewer for leading international journals and conferences
  • Committee member for the BAAL Vocabulary SIG
  • Committee member for the BALEAP Testing, Assessment, and Feedback SIG

Sponsors and collaborators

I am co-lead on the MA TESOL international collaboration with VN-UK, at Da Nang University in Vietnam. This contributes to the university’s vision of developing and facilitating students’ learning by global collaboration.


Recent publications include the following:

  • Szudarski, P. & Barclay, S. (2021). Vocabulary Theory, Patterning, and Teaching. Multilingual Matters: Bristol.
  • Barclay, S. & Pellicer-Sanchez, A. (2021). Exploring the learning burden and decay of foreign language vocabulary knowledge: The effect of part of speech and word length. ITL - International Journal of Applied Linguistics. Advanced online publication.
  • Barclay, S. & Schmitt, N. (2019). Learning and Teaching Vocabulary in a Foreign Language. In Cummins, J. & Davison, C. (Eds) International Handbook of English Language Teaching. Springer, New York.

Featured conference presentations and invited talks include the following:

  • Barclay, S. (2019). Learning Burden and Retention as Aspects of Foreign Language Vocabulary Acquisition. Invited talk at the University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.
  • Barclay, S. (2018). Understanding the Role of Systematic Decay as Part of the Vocabulary Acquisition Process. Invited talk given as part of Future Trends in Vocabulary Research Colloquium at AAAL2018, Chicago, USA.
  • Barclay, S. (2017). Apps and Websites for Effective Vocabulary Learning. Invited talk given as part of Research into Practice Colloquium (Vocabulary) at TESOL 2017, Seattle, USA.

Course(s) I teach on