School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Professor Leigh Oakes


Professor of French and Linguistics

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 8319
Room Number: Arts One 1.05A


Research interests:

Language and national identity in France, Québec and Sweden; language policy and planning; language attitudes; regional languages in France; variation in French; language in the European Union; language and globalisation.


  • French Foundations (linguistics component) (level 4)
  • The Sounds of French (level 5)
  • Language and Society in the French-Speaking World (level 6)


Research Interests:

Current projects:

Pluricentric linguistic justice in Quebec

The strong monocentric ideology traditionally associated with the French language and linking it closely with the variety of Paris continues today in the minds of many speakers and non-speakers alike. As the only significantly large group of native speakers outside Europe, francophone Quebecers are in a unique position to advance a more equitable conception of French that considers the language in all its pluricentric diversity. But what moral grounds support the promotion of a Standard Quebec French distinct from the standard used in France? And how do the ethical arguments differ according to variables such as mother tongue (French, English, other), sex and age? Building on the notion of pluricentric linguistic justice developed by Oakes and Peled (forthcoming), the project aims to 1) provide an empirical account of attitudes to the question of pluricentric linguistic justice in French in Quebec; 2) test empirically the theoretical assumptions that underpin the notion of pluricentric linguistic justice; and 3) explore the usefulness of the pluricentric linguistic justice paradigm for investigating language attitudes more broadly.

If you are a Quebecer (living in or outside Quebec), are francophone and interested participating in our study, please visit

Understanding foreign language motivation in a globalised world: focus on French

Offering insight into the benefits of foreign language learning in a world increasingly dominated by English, this project examines the role of motivation in learning French among university students in four European countries, including the UK. Grounded in second language motivation theory, it aims to compare the various types of motivation proposed in the literature, critically assessing their relevance specifically for the learning of a foreign language other than English. To do this, it proposes a quantitative and qualitative analysis of motivations according to key variables of interest, including a comparison with students of English. The findings will be of value to motivation theorists, language educators and policymakers alike. Building on a study by Oakes of motivations among students of French and Polish in the UK and a conference on individual factors in second language acquisition organised by both applicants, the project represents the next step towards a large-scale study of foreign language motivation in Europe today.

Professional activities:



Articles and book chapters

Other publications

PhD Supervision

I welcome applications from candidates wishing to undertake doctoral research in the following areas:

Language policy and planning

Language and nationalism/national identity

Language ideologies

Language attitudes


Current PhD Students:

Chiara Ardoino - Code-Switching in the French Caribbean Media: Negotiation and Accommodation in a Linguistic Continuum


Past PhD students:

Sujin Lee - The making of multilingual South Korea: Inter-discourse of neo-nationalism and transnationalism

Rachelle Vessey - Language ideologies and discourses of national identity in Canadian newspapers: A cross-linguistic corpus-assisted discourse study

Rusudan Amirejibi-Mullen - Language policy and national identity in Georgia

Ruth Kircher - Language attitudes in Quebec: A contemporary perspective

Jon Orman - Language and nation-building in post-apartheid South Africa