Professor Enlli Thomas

Professor Enlli Thomas
Professor of Research in Education
01248 383053
Eifionydd, Normal Site


Enlli Thomas is a Professor of Research in Education. She has over 20 years of experience of conducting and managing funded research projects and of disseminating her findings within their academic disciplines and of applying her findings in practice. Her main research interests and expertise span psycholinguistic approaches to the study of bilingual language acquisition, including children’s acquisition of complex structures under conditions of minimal language input, bilingual assessment, and education approaches to language transmission, acquisition and use. She has conducted research and published widely in many areas of language study, including papers on aspects of bilingual acquisition, including input factors influencing successful L1-L2 acquisition; bilingual transfer; bilingual assessment; bilingual literacy; Executive Function and bilingualism; socio-economic status and language abilities; and factors influencing language use. She gives regular invited lectures to practitioners and child-care workers both in the education and in the mental health sector on topics relating to language development and bilingualism, and had made regular appearances on tv and radio as an expert informant.

Since moving to the School of Education and Human Developmentin 2007, she has been actively applying her expertise in the education context. Since joining the School of Education, she has led on a number of research projects, including those looking at developing children’s social use of Welsh both within and outside the classroom (Hunaniaith and Welsh Language Board), those exploring the opportunities afforded to L2 children to use Welsh within the classroom (Welsh Government), developing Welsh-language adaptations of standardised measures of linguistic and non-linguistic measures widely used in schools (GL Assessment), evaluating the Premier League Reading Stars Cymru reading programme (National Literacy Trust), and evaluating a family-based programme - The Family Learning Signature - in helping education authorities to improve attainment, attendance and behaviour, particularly with hard to reach families and disengaged learners (Widening Access Funds).

These studies have led to the generation of a number of high-quality research papers as well as to more practical outputs with immediate impact such as a series of standardised testing tools, including those measuring children’s language abilities in Welsh. Her findings have also informed language policy and planning. For example, Gwynedd LEA officials brought together a group of advisors to act upon the implications outlined in a consultation document produced by Roberts and Thomas following their research on children’s social use of Welsh. This work was commissioned by Hunaniaith (and funded by the Welsh Language Board) and received a lot of media attention: see , and led to a one-day conference for teachers and head teachers in Gwynedd to disseminate the findings and demonstrate examples of good practice. The recommendations of the study led to the creation of the Siarter Iaith Gymraeg Ysgolion Gwynedd (Welsh Language Charter in Gwynedd Schools) , and this has since been rolled-out across north Wales, before recently being adopted by the Welsh Government to be rolled-out nationally.

She recently co-led on a project funded by the Gwynedd and Anglesey Post-16 Consortia to evaluate the various types of ‘bilingual’ teaching employed across the region and to develop new software to equip institutions to track the use of Welsh and English across the curriculum annually as part of their language planning strategy. The software is now used in all institutions in Gwynedd and Anglesey which provide for post-16 pupils. She is recently co-author of a large-scale ESRC grant (£1.8 million), which is a multi-institution project to develop the first mass corpus to capture and inform the past, present and future use of the Welsh language. She will co-lead on the development and evaluation of a dedicated resource for teachers and learners of Welsh that will result from Corpus as part of the research.

Conference Presentation

International Conference on Multilingualism and Multilingual Education

The Management of Additional Support Needs in Gaelic Medium Education: Developing Assessment Strategies to Enhance Pupil Achievement and Inclusion


Invited Conference Keynote Address – International:

• Thomas, E. M. (2018). Title TBC. Multilingual Education in Linguistically Diverse Contexts, Malta, 30 August – 1 September, 2018.
• Thomas, E. M. (2018). Title TBC. Understanding Multilingualism, Warsaw, Poland, 8-10 June. 2018.
• Thomas, E. M. (2018). Childhood Bilingualism: the Welsh-English context. Irish Research Network in Childhood Bilingualism Inaugural Meeting, Trinity College Dublin, 12 January, 2018.
• Thomas, E. M. (2017). Psycho- and socio-linguistic factors influencing minority language competence in bi- and multilingual contexts: implications for education. International Conference on Multilingualism and Multilingual Education – ICMME17, Braga, Portugal, 11-13 May.
• Thomas, E. M. (2011). Psycholinguistic aspects of the acquisition of Welsh: Challenges to the sustainability of a minority linguistic community. Scoil Earraigh OÉG don Phleanáil Teanga/NUIG Language Planning Symposium, National University of Ireland, Galway, 28 March.

Invited Conference Keynote Address - UK:

• Thomas, E. M. (2014). Issues and methods in the development of language assessment tools for bilingual Welsh-English speakers. Co-labhairt Fheumalachdan-taic/Additional Support Needs and Speech and Language Therapy in Gaelic Education Conference, University of Edinburgh, 23 June.
• Thomas, E. M. (2013). The benefits of bilingualism. Children in Wales One-day Conference, Swansea, 16 February.
• Thomas, E. M. (2011). Research on Linguistic Achievement: Issues for Assessment. Keynote Address. POBAL Seimineár agus Seoladh Taighde/ POBAL Seminar and Research Launch, Belfast, 21 June.
• Thomas, E. M. (2010). Needs of the bilingual patient: a challenge for the Welsh language in the Health Service. The Welsh Language in Healthcare Conference, Cardiff, 27 May.
• Gathercole, V. C. Mueller & Thomas, E. M. (2007). Language Transmission in Bilingual Families. Welsh Language Board Research Conference, Cardiff.

Professor Thomas currently sits on the following boards:

• Member of the ESRC Peer Review College
• Member of the Editorial Board, Applied Psycholinguistics
• Member of the Advisory Editorial Board, Studies in Bilingualism book series, John Benjamins
• Member of the Editorial Board, Gwerddon
• She was a core member of the Executive Board of the ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory and Practice, Bangor University - a multidisciplinary Research Centre combining neuro-psychological, psycholinguistic, linguistic, and educational approaches to the study of bilingualism. She was deputy lead of the psycholinguistic group and a member of the education group. (2007-2011)
• She was recently appointed to the Welsh Language Partnerships Council – a prestigious appointment involving ten experts to advise to the Welsh Government Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning on current Welsh language legislation in Wales. (2017-2021)




(i) Refereed journal articles

(ii) Refereed Chapters in Books

(iii) Books, Edited Books, and Scholarly Editions

(iv) Conference Proceedings and other publications

2008-2011 Co-ordinator of MA in Bilingualism



2010 PGCertHE (merit)

1996 - 2001 Bangor University
PhD Psychology
“Aspects of Gender Mutation in Welsh”

1993 - 1996 Bangor University
BA (hons.) Psychology, 2:1
Dissertation: “The Cognitive Benefits of Bilingualism”

2011 Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
2006 Recipient of Bangor University Teaching Fellow Award
1996 Recipient of Bangor University’s Development Trust 3 year PhD Studentship, funded by Bookland.