Prof Enlli Thomas

Professor in Education, Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor

Contact info

Position: Director of Research and Impact 


Phone: 01248 383053

Location: Eifionydd, Normal Site

Contact Info

Position: Director of Research and Impact 


Phone: 01248 383053

Location: Eifionydd, Normal Site


Enlli Thomas is Director of Research and Impact at the School of Education and Human Development. 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 impact 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.

She graduated with a degree in Psychology from Bangor University in 1996 and went on to receive a PhD in Psychology in 2001, which looked at Welsh-speaking children’s acquisition of grammatical gender in Welsh. After completing her PhD, she remained at Bangor to work as a post-doctoral researcher on an ESRC-funded study looking at Welsh-speaking children’s acquisition of mutation, gender, and grammatical categories. During her subsequent years working as a Teaching Associate in the School of Psychology, she was involved as a co-author on a number of successful large-scale research grants, looking at language transmission practices in the home (Welsh Language Board), cognitive effects of bilingualism across the lifespan (ESRC), developing Welsh language assessment tools (Welsh Assembly Government), neuropsychological assessment of bilingual Welsh-English speakers (North Wales Research Committee & West Wales NHS Trust Research and Development Grants Awarding Committee) and bilingualism and dementia (North Wales Research Committee).

Since moving to the School of Education in 2007, she has continued to collaborate on a number of studies including a large-scale grant looking at the impact of bilingualism on patients with Altzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease (ESRC), and she was a core member of the Executive of the ESRC Centre for Research on Education in Theory and Practice. At the same time, 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). 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.

She is also the author and co-author of a number of articles and book chapters, and co-author of a standardized tool for measuring children’s receptive vocabulary in Welsh. She recently co-edited a volume entitled “Advances in the Study of Bilingualism”.

Conference Presentation

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


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.




Research grants held

2012 Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol: “Llais y Plentyn” (Thomas, £2409)

2011 Welsh Government: “Exploring the role of classroom language transmission practices in developing L1/L2 fluency in Welsh” (Thomas & Lewis, £10,000).

2010 ESRC: “Bilingualism as a protective factor in age-related neurodegenerative disorders” (Clare, Gathercole, Thomas, Hindle, Whittacker, Bialystok, & Craik, £630,000)

Hunaniaith and Welsh Language Board: “Arolwg o ddefnydd cymdeithasol plant cynradd o’r Gymraeg” (Roberts & Thomas, £20,000)

2009 Welsh Government: “Continued Development of Standardised Measures for the Assessment of Welsh” (Gathercole & Thomas, £90,000).

2007 ESRC: “Cognitive effects of bilingualism across the lifespan” (Gathercole & Thomas: £720,000)

North Wales Research Committee: “Does bilingualism delay the onset of dementia? A pilot study comparing bilingual Welsh/English and monolingual English speakers”(Clare, Thomas, Whitaker, & Jones, £5,000)

2005 Welsh Assembly Government: “Development of Welsh language assessment tools for children” (Gathercole & Thomas: £90,000)

North Wales Research Committee: “Neuropsychological assessment of bilingual Welsh-English speakers: meeting the needs of Welsh-speaking older people” (Thomas, Clare, Woods, & Jones: £5,000)

North West Wales NHS Trust Research and Development Grants Awarding
Committee: “Neuropsychological assessment of bilingual Welsh-English speakers: meeting the needs of Welsh-speaking older people” (Clare, Thomas, Woods, & Jones: £5,000)

2003 Welsh Language Board: “Trosglwyddo Iaith mewn Teuluoedd Dwyieithog yng Nghymru”(Gathercole, Thomas, Deuchar & Williams; £93,000).

Consultancy work
2012 GL Assessment, London
Consult on the development of a Welsh version of the Cognitive Abilities Test 4

2012 NFER Cymru/Welsh Government
Consult on the development of new Welsh reading tests

Teaching and Supervision

Teaching and Supervision

Year 1: Child Psychology (MO) (XAE1033) – Semester 1 (10 credits)
Seicoleg Plentyn (MO) (XAC1033) – Semester 1 (10 credits)

Year 2: Researching Childhood (MO) (XAE2033) – Semester 1 (10 credits)
Ymchwilio Plentyndod (MO) (XAC2033) – Semester 1 (10 credits)

Year 3: Iaith a Dwyieithrwydd (MO) (XAC3007) – Semester 1 (10 credits); Semester 2, 3 lectures
Language and Bilingualism (MO) (XAE3007) – Semester 1 (10 credits); Semester 2, 3 lectures

MA: Bilingualism: Research and Methods (PLP4020) – Semester 2, 3 sessions (3.5 hours)

PhD: First supervisor: 5 students (all externally funded)
Second supervisor: 3 students

2008-2011 Co-ordinator of MA in Bilingualism

Prof. activities and awards (20)

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Accolades (1)

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