Language Arts and Media

Language Arts and Media

Fiona Willans
  • Fiona Willans
    Job Info
    School of Language, Arts & Media
    Position Title:
    Senior Lecturer in Linguistics
    Contact Info
    Phone #:
    +679 32 32699
Personal Info


PhD Educational Linguistics, MA Applied Linguistics (King’s College London, UK), Diploma Pacific Language Studies (USP), BA Linguistics (University of Durham, UK), Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice (King’s College London, UK), CELTA (University of Durham, UK)

Teaching and Supervision

I have led the Linguistics and Languages programmes at USP since 2015. I teach LN111 Introduction to Language Studies, LN311 English in the Pacific, LN416 Language Acquisition and Multilingualism, and LN418 Integrating the Four Skills in English. I have previously taught English at secondary schools in both Vanuatu and The Solomon Islands.

I welcome enquiries from potential research students with interests in multilingual education, language attitudes and ideologies, and meaningful change to the way English is taught in the Pacific region.


My research focuses on language policy, multilingualism, and multilingual education. I am currently leading three projects:

“Multilingual ECCE: Bringing language policy to life in the Grade 1 classroom” (with Rajendra Prasad), in which we investigate Grade 1 teacher talk in a range of schools across multilingual Fiji. We analyse the complexity of teacher talk (number of languages, range of vocabulary, proportion of different utterance types, and range of functions), in attempt to provide some empirical grounding to the debate: Is it really too complex to implement multilingual education?

"Linguistic landscapes of the contemporary Pacific" (in collaboration with undergraduate students), in which we compare the visual representation of languages in urban spaces with the highly multilingual 'soundtracks' of these cities. The researchers are: Salanieta Koro, Fiji; Jim Gure, Vanuatu; 'Elenoa Veikune, Tonga; Timothy Rongoau, Solomon Islands; Nanise Senikabuta, Marshall Islands; Tereise Vaifale, Samoa; Aleysha Tamakin, Nauru.

"Moving academic literacy support into the mainstream" (with Tilisi Bryce, Ralph Buadromo, Rajendra Prasad and Aluwesi Fonolahi), in which we evaluate students' engagement with academic literacy support built into a first-year linguistics course delivered via blended and online modes. Click here to read more about this project.

Academic Publications

  • Willans, F. & R. Prasad (in press). Multilingual, multimodal insights into the online learning experience: Getting in the zone. In B. Samuelson & S. Silvhiany (Eds.). Learning to research multilingually. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  • Willans, F., A. Fonolahi, R. Buadromo, T. Bryce, R. Prasad & S. Kumari (2019). Fostering and evaluating learner engagement with academic literacy support: Making the most of Moodle. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 16/4.
  • Willans, F. (2019). Symbolic and functional bilingualism: Insights from an Anglophone school and a Francophone school. In L. Arsac, P. Metsan, J.-M. Virelala, & A.-S. Vivier (Eds.), From linguistic plurality to university bilingualism: Realities and challenges (pp. 55-70). Port Vila: Vanuatu Ministry of Education and Training.
  • Willans, F. (2018). Teaching English to young learners in the Pacific. In S. Garton & F. Copland (Eds.). The Routledge handbook of teaching English to young learners (pp.523-536). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • Willans, F. & A. Jukes (2017). How far can the language ecology metaphor take us? A Pacific perspective on language vitality. Language 93/4, 263-274.
  • Willans, F. (2017). 'Grassroots talk back on social media: An analysis of public engagement in Vanuatu’s language-in-education policy'. Current Issues in Language Planning. 18/4.
  • Willans, F. (2017). Another early-exit transitional model doomed to fail? Or is this the wrong model at the right time in Vanuatu?'. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 38/3, 699-711.
  • Willans, F. (2016). 'Carving out institutional space for multilingualism in the world’s most multilingual region: the role of Linguistics at the University of the South Pacific'. Current Issues in Language Planning. 17/4, 351-368.
  • Willans, F. (2016) 'Taking an interest: Competence in and affiliations with the expected languages of schooling in Vanuatu'. In D. Starks & K. Taylor Leech (Eds.) Doing Research within Communities. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • Willans, F. & C. Leung (2016). ‘Empirical foundations for medium of instruction policies: Approximate replications of Afolayan (1976) and Siegel (1997)’. Language Teaching. 49/4, 549-563.
  • Willans, F. (2015). ‘Globalised discourses within and around spaces for multilingualism: Prospects for education policy change in Vanuatu’. Current Issues in Language Planning. 16/1-2, 97-113.
  • Abongdia, J.-F. & F. Willans (2014). ‘The position of English globally and nationally: A comparison of Cameroon and Vanuatu’. Current Issues in Language Planning. 15/1, 57-74.
  • Willans, F. (2013). ‘The engineering of plurilingualism following a blueprint for multilingualism: The case of Vanuatu’s education language policy’ TESOL Quarterly. 47/3, 546-566.
  • Willans, F. (2013). Ol problem/s blong transcription: How can the 'flexibly bilingual' use of English and an English-based pidgin best be captured? In A. Archibald (Ed.), Multilingual theory and practice in Applied Linguistics: Proceedings of the 45th annual meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics, 6-8 September 2012, University of Southampton (pp. 263-266). London: Scitsiugnil Press.
  • Willans, F. (2011). ‘Classroom code-switching in a Vanuatu secondary school: Conflict between policy and practice’. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. 14/1, 23-38.

Recent Conference Papers

  • Willans, Fiona & Melanaite Taumoefolau. ‘Opening the door to our own languages: Teaching in and through Pacific languages at the University of the South Pacific’. Inclusion, Mobility and Multilingual Education Conference, Bangkok, 24-26 September 2019.
  • Willans, Fiona, Ralph Buadromo, Tilisi Bryce & Rajendra Prasad. ‘Evaluating engagement with discipline-specific academic literacy support’. 2nd international conference on English Across the Curriculum, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 3-5 December 2018.
  • Willans, Fiona ‘Chinese within the multilingual fabric of the Pacific island region’. International summit on the teaching of Chinese in the Pacific, Massey University, 24 September 2018.
  • Willans, Fiona, Ralph Buadromo, Tilisi Bryce & Rajendra Prasad. ‘Moving into the mainstream: Embedding research skills within a core academic course’. Pacific People’s Research Skills Symposium, Suva, 29-30 August 2018.
  • Willans, Fiona ‘Symbolic and functional bilingualism: Insights from an anglophone school and a francophone school’. Research seminar on bilingualism within a new national university of Vanuatu, Port Vila, 16-17 July 2018.
  • Willans, Fiona. ‘Please can we talk about language and literacy?’ Pacific Update, Australian National University and University of the South Pacific, Suva, 5-6 July 2018.
  • Willans, Fiona & Rajendra Prasad. ‘The dismantling of ethnic borders within multiracial, postcolonial Fiji: Classroom interaction in an era of new nationalism’. Sociolinguistics Symposium, University of Auckland, 27-30 June 2018.
  • Willans, Fiona, Salanieta Koro & Jim Gure. ‘Colonial and neo-colonial layers of contact’. Multilingual landscapes: Planning, policy, and contact linguistic perspectives, University of Manchester, 21-22 May 2018
  • Willans, Fiona. ‘A sustainable linguistic future for the Pacific: What role does the University of the South Pacific play?’ FESTPAC, University of Guam, May 27-28, 2016.
  • Willans, Fiona. ‘A major strategy to improve English: But what do we all mean by “English”?’ ALAA annual conference, University of South Australia, December 2-3, 2015.
  • Willans, Fiona. ‘Re-shaping language policy in Vanuatu education: Complexity, challenges and chances’. Symposium with Robert Early, Helen Tamtam, Charley Robert, Christelle Thieffry and Leslie Vandeputte-Tavo. Oceanic Comparative and International Education conference, University of the South Pacific (Port Vila), November 4-5, 2015, and Language, Education & Development conference, University of Auckland, November 23-26, 2015.
  • Willans, Fiona. ‘Quality education through the medium of English: What does (or can or should) this mean for the Pacific region?’ Pacific Circle Consortium conference, Suva, July 1-5, 2015.
  • Willans, Fiona. ‘Hem i Broken English nomo: Interrupting the same old story about pidgins and creoles in school.’ Charlene J. Sato Distinguished Lecture, University of Hawaiʿi, April 9, 2015.
  • Willans, Fiona. ‘The multilingual turn in Sociolinguistics: What use is it to educators?’ College of Education seminar, University of Hawaiʿi, April 8, 2015.

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Language Arts and Media
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