School of 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 Research 

I took up the post of Lecturer in Linguistics at USP in January 2015. Prior to this, I was lecturing at King’s College London, teaching courses related to Sociolinguistics, Multilingualism and Language Contact, Language Policy and Planning, Language Ideologies, and English Language Teaching. I have previously taught English at secondary schools in both Vanuatu and The Solomon Islands.

My research interests include: colonial legacies within language ideologies and language-in-education policies; the potential for bottom-up and ‘sideways’ approaches to medium of instruction issues throughout the Pacific; the status, use and development of pidgins and creoles (particularly Bislama); and the use of ethnography to understand ‘policy’ from as many perspectives as possible.

Academic Publications

  • 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.

Professional Associations or Journal Affiliations

  • Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA)
  • British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), UK
  • Reviewer for International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

Research Projects 

    • (2018- ) Moving into the mainstream: Embedding skills within a core academic course (Funded by the Centre for Flexible Learning, collaborating with Ralph Buadromo, Tilisi Bryce and Rajendra Prasad)
    • (2017 - ) Linguistic landscapes of the contemporary Pacific (Funded by the School of Language, Arts & Media, in collaboration with undergraduate and postgraduate students across the region)
    • (2017-2018) Multilingual ECCE: Bringing language policy to life in the Grade 1 classroom in Fiji (Funded by USP Strategic Research Themes, collaborating with Rajendra Prasad)
    (2013-2014) 'Developing Effective Skills Support', Queen Mary, University of London (UK)

Recent Conference Papers

    • 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 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.
      • Willans, Fiona. "Learning multilingually in Vanuatu? Traces of globalised discourses in national policy texts." BAAL Annual Conference, University of Warwick, September 4-6, 2014.
      • Willans, Fiona. "Flexible models of multilingual education: The withdrawal of top-down language planning." AILA World Congress, Brisbane, August 10-15, 2014.
      • Willans, Fiona. "Hanging on to all the languages, or just enough bits of them: Seeking spaces for change in language-in-education policy. "Language and Super-diversity: Explorations and interrogations, University of Jyväskylä, June 5-7, 2013.
      • Willans, Fiona. "One of my children must school French in case a visitor comes to our house: Language-in-education policy in Vanuatu through the eyes of a well-meaning mother." 34th Ethnography in Education Forum, University of Pennsylvania, February 22-23, 2013.
      • Willans, Fiona."Ol problem/s blong transcription: How can the ‘flexibly bilingual’ use of English and an English-lexified pidgin best be captured?" BAAL Annual Conference, University of Southampton, Sept 6-8, 2012.
      • Willans, Fiona. "Doubly-oppressed to doubly-blessed: The reimagining of Vanuatu’s national identity." University of the Western Cape, April 16, 2012.
      • Willans, Fiona."Language policy in Vanuatu's dual-medium education system: Insights from an ethnographic case study." Language, education, diversity, University of Auckland, November 23-26, 2011.
      • Willans, Fiona."Language contestation in Vanuatu: The government’s aspiration for L2 + L3 'bilingualism'.” Language contact, change, maintenance and loss, University of Westminster July 22-23, 2011.
      • Willans, Fiona."Global vs. Local or English vs. French? A conflict of interests in language-in-education policies in Vanuatu." BAAL Annual Conference, University of Aberdeen, September 9-11, 2010.
      • Willans, Fiona. "Language policy conflicts in Vanuatu." Multilingual Education Conference, University of Kenyatta, Kenya, July 21-23, 2010.
      • 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.

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