Lecturer (Applied Linguistics)
School of Education
Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
University of Southern Queensland
Tel.: +61 7 4631 1934
Applied Linguistics and TESOL at USQ: https://sites.google.com/site/altesolusq/
My main area of teaching and research is second language acquisition, though I also have expertise in general linguistics, pedagogical grammar and quantitative research methods. Before going into academia, I worked as an English language instructor in Japan and Australia. As the majority of my students at USQ are language teachers, I am able to draw upon my own experience in TESOL to help students forge meaningful links between pedagogical theory and practice. My master's thesis examined argument-structure alternations in morphological causativisation in colloquial Sinhala within the Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG) framework. My PhD thesis focused on errors in the spoken production of articles and inflectional morphology by Korean learners of English.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in applied linguistics at University of New England (Australia)
Thesis title: 'Asymmetries in L2 functional morphology: The Korean learner of English'
Cambridge/RSA Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) at University of Technology Sydney
Master's by coursework and thesis / GPA: 6.9 out of 7.0 / thesis title: 'The morphological causative in colloquial Sinhala' (grade: High Distinction)
major: Ancient Greek / minor: linguistics / other subjects: (transferred from BSc) mathematics, chemistry, physics
Assistant Specialisation Coordinator (Language and Culture) School of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education, University of Southern Queensland
2016 - present
Lecturer (Applied Linguistics) School of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education, University of Southern Queensland
English language instructor English Language Centre, University of New England
Teaching assistant Dept of English, University of New England
Lecturer (level B); teaching assistant Dept of Linguistics, University of New England
IELTS examiner English Language Centre, University of New England
Lecturer (English for Academic Purposes) Sydney Institute of Business and Technology
English language instructor Centre for Macquarie English, Macquarie University
Lecturer (English as a Foreign Language) Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, Japan
English language instructor ECC (English conversation school), Osaka, Japan
Lecturer (English as a Foreign Language) Kansai Gaidai University, Osaka, Japan
English language instructor Nova (English conversation school), Osaka, Japan
English language instructor (voluntary) Asylum Seekers Centre, Sydney
for Austin, Pongpairoj and Trenkic (2015)
based on student evaluations of teaching performance in the course 'LIN5000 The Nature of Language'
to present a paper at an international conference
Australian Postgraduate Award, University of New England
IELTS examiner accreditation
Badham Bursary in Classics, University of Sydney
Austin, G., & O’Neill, S. (Eds.). (2019). Stimulating languages and learning: Global perspectives and community engagement. Blue Mounds, WI: Deep University Press. (in press)
Non-refereed book chapter
Austin, G., & O’Neill, S. (2019). Introduction. In G. Austin & S. O’Neill (Eds.), Stimulating languages and learning: Global perspectives and community engagement (pp. 1-2). Blue Mounds, WI: Deep University Press. (in press)
Refereed journal articles
Nguyen, H. T. L., & Austin, G. (2018). Follow-up visits in doctor-patient communication: The Vietnamese case. International Journal of Society, Culture & Language, 6(1), 18-30. Available at http://www.ijscl.net/volume_4936.html
Nguyen, H. T. L., & Austin, G. (2018). On invoking third parties in Vietnamese medical communication. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 8(7), 713-725. doi:10.17507/tpls.0807.01
Nguyen, H. T. L., Austin, G., & Chau, D. D. (2018). Treatment recommendation in Vietnamese medical consultations. PEOPLE: International Journal of Social Sciences, 3(3), 1010-1027.
Nguyen, H. T. L., Austin, G., Chau, D. D., Nguyen, H. Q., Nguyen, K. H. B., & Duong, M. T. (2018). Eliciting patients’ health concerns in consulting rooms and wards in Vietnamese public hospitals. International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, 7(2), 121-133. doi:10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.7n.2p.121
Austin, G., Pongpairoj, N., & Trenkic, D. (2015). Structural competition in second language production: Towards a constraint-satisfaction model. Language Learning, 65(3), 689-722.
Proceedings papers (refereed abstract)
Austin, G. & McDouall, A. (2010). Syntactic misanalysis in L2 article production: A developmental perspective. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of Korea, 2010 Winter Conference (LSK 2010).
Austin, G. & McDouall, A. (2010). Measuring the effects of word structure on L2 article misanalysis. Proceedings of the 12th Seoul International Conference on Generative Grammar (SICOGG 12).
Austin, G. & McDouall, A. (2010). Number sensitization in plural production: Support from Korean speakers of English. Proceedings of the 2010 Seoul International Conference on Linguistics (SICOL 2010).
Austin, G. (2010). Articles competing with plurals in L2 production. Proceedings of the 12th Annual International Conference of the Japanese Society for Language Sciences (JSLS 2010).
Austin, G. & McDouall, A. (2009). The Syntactic Misanalysis Hypothesis: Support from Korean speakers of English. Proceedings of the 2009 Applied Linguistics Association of Korea Annual Conference (ALAK 2009).
Austin, G. & McDouall, A. (2009). Explaining variability in article production by Korean speakers of English. Proceedings of the 2009 International Asian Conference on Education (ACE 2009).
Conference presentations (refereed abstract) 
Austin, G. (2015). Prosodic transfer across constructions and domains. Paper presented at the 2015 International Conference on Deep Languages Education Policy and Practices, Ipswich, Australia.
Austin, G., Pongpairoj, N., & Trenkic, D. (2015). Articles and plurals in L2 production: Effects of NP complexity. Paper presented at the Bilingualism Symposium: Theory, Practice and Innovation: Social, Cognitive and Linguistic Perspectives in the Study of Bilingualism, Sydney, Australia.
Trenkic, D., Austin, G., & Pongpairoj, N. (2013). Competition between L1- and L2-licensed structures leads to variability in functional morphology production. Paper presented at the 9th International Symposium on Bilingualism (ISB 9), Singapore.
Trenkic, D., Austin, G., & Pongpairoj, N. (2012). Competition between articles and plurals in L2 production, when the L1 has neither. Paper presented at the 22nd Annual Conference of the European Second Language Association (EUROSLA 22), Poznań, Poland.
Austin, G. & McDouall, A. (2011). One problem with one theory of variability in L2 article production. Paper presented at the Winter International Conference on Linguistics in Seoul (WICLIS 2011), Korea.
Austin, G. & McDouall, A. (2010). Syntactic misanalysis in L2 article production: A developmental perspective. Paper presented at the Linguistic Society of Korea, 2010 Winter Conference (LSK 2010), Seoul, Korea.
Austin, G. & McDouall, A. (2010). Measuring the effects of word structure on L2 article misanalysis. Paper presented at The 12th Seoul International Conference on Generative Grammar (SICOGG 12), Korea.
Austin, G. (2010). The Number Sensitivity Hypothesis: Accounting for asymmetries in L2 plural production. Paper presented at the Japan Second Language Association Annual Conference (J-SLA 2010), Gifu City, Japan.
Austin, G. (2010). Number sensitization in plural production: Support from Korean speakers of English. Paper presented at the 2010 Seoul International Conference on Linguistics (SICOL 2010), Korea.
Austin, G. (2010). Articles competing with plurals in L2 production. Paper presented at the 12th Annual International Conference of the Japanese Society for Language Sciences (JSLS 2010), Tokyo, Japan.
Austin, G. & McDouall, A. (2009). The Syntactic Misanalysis Hypothesis: Support from Korean speakers of English. Paper presented at the 2009 Applied Linguistics Association of Korea Annual Conference (ALAK 2009), Seoul, Korea.
Austin, G. & McDouall, A. (2009). Explaining variability in article production by Korean speakers of English. Paper presented at the 2009 International Asian Conference on Education (ACE 2009), Osaka, Japan.
Austin, G. (2008). Constraint splitting and article typology: Evidence from Sinhala. Poster presented at the 2008 Australian Linguistics Society Annual Conference (ALS 2008), Sydney, Australia.
Austin, G. (2008). From parameters to constraints: Explaining alternations in causee expression. Paper presented at the 18th International Congress of Linguists (CIL 18): Workshop on Argument Realization in Asian Languages, Seoul, Korea.
Austin, G. (2007). Optimality in argument fusion: The morphological causative in Sinhala. Paper presented at the Linguistic Society of New Zealand 17th Biennial Conference (LSNZ 2007), Hamilton, New Zealand.
Austin, G. (2007). A parametric configuration for the morphological causative in Sinhala. School of Arts, University of New England, Armidale, Australia.
Austin, G. (2005). Optimality in L2 syntax. Dept of Linguistics, University of New England, Armidale, Australia.
Trenkic, D., Austin, G. & Pongpairoj, N. (2011). Repeating and retelling stories in English: Variability in the production of grammar by Thai learners of English. University of York Research Priming Grant (₤335).
- second language acquisition
- general linguistics (especially syntax)
- quantitative research methods (programming: R, Python; software: SPSS)
- corpus linguistics
- Asian languages and linguistics (especially Sinhala, Korean and Vietnamese)
- linguistics and psychotherapy
- linguistics and music
Here are some specific topic areas that I would be interested in supervising in:
These are just examples: other topics are possible as well. Please contact me to suggest one.
I particularly welcome expressions of interest from non-native speakers of English.
Bader, S. (in progress). The Interface Hypothesis in L2 acquisition: Arabic learners of English. (principal supervisor: 80%)
Chau, D. (in progress). The acquisition of argument-structure alternations by Vietnamese learners of English. (principal supervisor: 80%)
Nguyen, H. (2018). Seeking information in a medical setting: Vietnamese doctor-patient interaction. (associate supervisor: 55%)
Launonen, P. (2019). The effect of participation in the bilingual education program in Spain on the development of vocabulary knowledge in the student's L1.
Long, P. (2019). Educators' perceptions of substance abuse among secondary students in Mauritius: A case study.
Iles, L. (2018). Scoring and validating an in-house EFL multi-level oral interview placement test.
Weil, B. (2018). The effects of indirect feedback codes on the written grammatical accuracy of ESL students.
King, D. (2017). The effects of TESOL teaching on the English language skills of Middle Eastern international students in post-graduate programs in Australian universities: A critical review of the literature.
Mcdonald, S. (2017). The ability of the Pearson Test of Education Academic (PTE) to predict understanding of speech in noise.
Robinson, R. (2017). Gender discrimination mars the right to equality and the right to (tertiary) education for the Hijra community in India: A case study of Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi.
Kachel, B. (2015). Perceptions of a one-to-one tablet program: A focus on foreign language learning.
Nguyen, V. (2013). Can Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) improve Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) listening skills?
Wakefield, J. (2006). Acquisition of topics, auxiliaries, and non-verbal predication in English-Cantonese interlanguage: A test of the Full Transfer/Full Access Hypothesis. (supervised while at the University of New England)
LIN5000 The Nature of Language (i.e., introductory linguistics)
LIN5001 Teaching English Grammar
LIN8001 Principles of Second Language Learning
LIN8015 Introduction to Sociolinguistics
Here is some unsolicited feedback on my supervisory performance from a doctoral student:
First and foremost, I am deeply grateful to my supervisor, Dr. Gavin Austin, whose faith and confidence in me has made my dream possible. Gavin’s insightful suggestions and comments on every detail of this thesis stimulated my thinking considerably, and helped me to reach a better understanding of my analysis. Although Gavin was often busy trying to meet other deadlines, he always gave me prompt feedback on every part of my work, and supported me personally and professionally.
Here is some unsolicited and anonymous feedback on my teaching performance in LIN5000 and LIN8001:
Gavin was extremely supportive of any queries, no matter how small. His manner was always very approachable and I feel he created a very relaxed feeling between us all. It would have been, I feel a great experience to have been part of his classes at USQ. I feel this experience has added to the quality of my pedagogy as an educator.
I would like to thank my professor, Gavin, for being very dedicated, involved and helpful with his “online” students. I never felt left out of his class. On the contrary, his prompt responses to my questions and knowledgeable comments on the forums inspired me to continue learning more about the Nature of Language. I hope I can have him as a professor for other online courses.
I would like to thank Gavin for his teaching of LIN8001. His attention to detail, and genuine care shown for students undertaking this course were second to none. Gavin always provided prompt responses to queries, and gave guidance as required. Marking of assignments was quick and feedback provided was relevant and helpful. It was a pleasure studying a course taught by Gavin. Thank you, Gavin.
The lecturer structured the course incredibly well. He made it very clear what the assessments were and made every effort to have resources to support them. The best course I have ever done at uni in both my degrees. 10/10
In 2016, I wrote a new course for USQ called LIN5001 Teaching English Grammar. Here is some anonymous feedback on my teaching performance in the first delivery of this course:
A great and useful course. Needs to continue for the future. As a teacher I realise how important this course is. Great materials and well structured, a most enjoyable course.
The content was comprehensive, covering a broad range of grammar points. Linking specific grammar problems with native language interference has given me insights that have helped in my classroom teaching. The final assessment was particularly useful in applying our knowledge in a very real and practical way.
This is a really useful, practical course which would benefit any ESL teacher.
I live near Toowoomba with my wife Woo-Hwa, our three children Sean, Declan and Ashlynn, and our golden retriever Tristan.
I was born in Sri Lanka in 1965. My mother went into labour during a car journey from Kandy to Colombo two weeks earlier than expected. Luckily, however, there was a small hospital nearby, and one doctor and one nurse joined my parents in celebrating my arrival.
For the first seven and a half years of my life (apart from a six-month interlude in Scotland when I was two), I lived with my family and some Tamil servants on a series of tea plantations in the hill country in central Sri Lanka; at school in Kandy, I stayed with my great-aunt and -uncle. My father was a Scottish immigrant, a tea planter who gave the servants and tea pluckers instructions in broken Tamil, my mother a Dutch colonial ‘burgher’ who wore saris and spoke English and Sinhala fluently.
At school in Kandy, I was ‘suddha’, meaning ‘white’ in the local language: I was invariably the only Caucasian in my class, though there was also Julie Brown with red hair and freckles a couple of years above me. I learnt to write the beautiful Sinhalese script, with its little circles and curlicues, though I never spoke more than a few words of the language. During my time in Sri Lanka, my senses were assailed by some incredibly powerful sights, sounds, and smells: a Hindu ritual in which an entranced man hung from a kind of gallows by a meathook through his back; the parade of elephants in their bejewelled masks, the flickering torches and the hypnotic Kandyan drumming of the perahera, arguably the most important Buddhist festival in South Asia; the pervasive aromas of incense, nutmeg, and of course tea. I was an outsider, but protected by elitism from the less pleasant aspects that such status can bring.
In the early seventies there were already signs of the racial conflicts that have since riven this small but multi-ethnic nation, so in 1972 we all moved to a little town not far from Glasgow, Scotland. At the time, I felt it was a great adventure to go and live in this place with its old stone castles and rolling highland hills with not a tea leaf in sight; only later did I realise how much this deracination had actually affected me. I was mistakenly referred to as the “the boy from Cyprus” – well, I suppose few of them had heard of Ceylon, as we still called it back then. In the year or so that I spent there, I don’t remember meeting anyone who was not a local. And I talked funny, at least compared to my friends with their thick Glaswegian accents.
And so to Melbourne. A wit might call this a logical progression, given the climatic extremes you are liable to experience within one day in this city. I was much more disoriented by this migration than the first one, although Melbourne was admittedly a far less parochial place in many respects than Glasgow. The seventies were the era of the ‘wog’: there were hardly any Asian children at the primary school I attended. I was mistakenly called a wog myself on more than one occasion, perhaps not surprising in light of my vaguely Mediterranean appearance. I didn’t assimilate into my new environment easily: I think the ease with which you settle into a foreign country has a lot to do with temperament, and I was an introspective child who felt increasingly nostalgic for his tropical paradise lost. And of course, I still talked funny.
High school passed in a blur of essays, exams, and eventual, inevitable burnout in year twelve. After two and a half years of desultory studies in maths, chemistry and physics at Melbourne University, I moved to Sydney for personal reasons in 1986 and applied myself to courses in linguistics and Ancient Greek. It was here that I had a sort of cultural epiphany. While an undergraduate at Sydney University, I stayed in an amazing residential college called International House. Roughly half the residents were Australians from outside Sydney, while the rest were from overseas. The perennial outsider had finally come ‘home’, it seemed.
At International House, I also discovered my vocation as an ESL/EFL teacher: I suppose it was inevitable that I should gravitate towards this profession, as it enabled me to combine my cultural and linguistic interests with my preference for being in an international environment. Put me in a room full of native English speakers and I feel uneasy, different somehow; but surrounded by a group of Czechs, Uruguayans, Laotians and Nigerians, with everyone’s differences so blatant, paradoxically enough I’m in my element. Not really belonging anywhere can confer unexpected advantages.
I lived in Australia until 1998 doing various things before setting off for Japan to teach English. Another motive was my yearning to see Asia again and in some sense recapture my past. I also chose Japan because, at my advanced age, I was not too keen on having to rough it in a less developed country. I went to Japan fully expecting to feel at home: I thought I would fit right in on account of my subliminal Asianness. And it is true that I enjoyed certain aspects of life in Japan, did well professionally, and met many wonderful people. But I also discovered how Australian I really am: an individualist who prizes independence of thought and behaviour.
On the positive side, however, I worked alongside New Zealanders, Americans, Canadians, Scots and other English speakers and learnt a great deal about how misconceived some of my ideas about these groups had been. It was perhaps rather ironic, then, that my most edifying intercultural experiences in Japan did not involve Japanese people. My wife was an exception – or no exception at all, depending on how you look at it. Although born and raised in Japan, Woo-Hwa is of Korean descent and therefore a foreigner in Japan who, like me, was obliged to carry an ‘Alien Registration Card’ around everywhere. Appropriately, the two registered aliens got together, and we left Japan in 2001, moving initially to Sydney and then Armidale in early 2004, and finally Toowoomba in 2012.
Now we both enjoy the symmetry of being northern New South Welsh-people in southern Queensland.