Our main focus is applied linguistics, which entails the teaching and learning of foreign languages, contrastive linguistics, lexicography and corpus linguistics. Much of the linguistic research carried out at our college is driven by the practical need to develop new teaching materials for foreign language acquisition, including academic writing. Many of our linguists are also active in creating corpora and compiling dictionaries. We study a wide variety of languages, including but not limited to English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Scandinavian languages, Greek and Latin. Scholars of individual languages collaborate within the college and with scholars from neighbouring institutes. We share an empirical approach to solving linguistic problems by employing state-of-the-art research methods. Many of our scholars are involved in the digital humanities community.

Our research in applied linguistics entails research and applied work on language acquisition, mainly foreign language learning and teaching. Since one of the strengths of our college is its multilingualism, one strand of research focuses on the interaction between different languages in a multilingual system. Our researchers are also interested in the influence that our native language has on the learning of foreign languages and in language acquisition more generally. Many of our researchers are involved in practical applications related to teacher training and language teaching issues. 

Selected publications:

  • Armon-Lotem, S., Haman, W., Jensen de Lopz, K. Smoczynska, M., Yatsushiro, K., Szczerbinski, M., van Hout, A., Dabasinskiene, I., Gavarró, A., Hobbs, E., Kaman-dulyte, L., Katsos, N., Kunnari, S., Nitsidou-Michaelidou, Chr., Sundahl Olsen, L., Parramon, X., Sauerland, U., Torn-Leesik, R. and van der Lely, H. (2016). A Large-Scale Cross-linguistic Investigation of the Acquisition of Passive. Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, 23 (1), 27-−56.
  • Kruse, Mari (2014). Võõrkeeleõpe kui sotsiaalne, sünergiline ja teadvustatud protsess. [Foreign language learning as a social, synergetic and conscious process.] Eesti ja soome-ugri keeleteaduse ajakiri / Journal of Estonian and Finno-Ugric Linguistics, 5 (3), 37−56.

Our college prides itself on its multilingualism and this provides a fertile ground for research on different topics related to contrastive linguistics. Our researchers collaborate closely with the Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics and there are many ongoing projects between linguists from different departments. The central focus is on taking a usage-based, functional approach to studying various language pairs. The following is a non-exhaustive list of the language pairs studied: Estonian-English, Estonian-German, Estonian-French, Estonian-Russian, Estonian-Spanish, Estonian-Swedish. The language pairs are mostly analysed from the synchronic perspective by taking a semasiological and/or onomasiological approach. Specific topics include rhythm, word stress, demonstratives, aspect, voice, tenses, modal verbs.

Selected publications: 

We work with languages in a multilingual environment, which entails usage-based research related to corpora of different languages, both written and spoken. Our corpus-linguistic research includes, for example, corpus-based studies of the passive in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, present tense verbs in bilingual oral narratives, and constructional alternations in written Estonian. In addition to corpus-based research, our researchers are involved in compiling corpora of different types and languages. Some examples of the latter are the Tartu Corpus of Estonian Learner English (TCELE), the corpus of Old Believers’ Dialectal Speech Recordings, and an Estonian electronic text corpus of inscriptions in Latin.

Selected publications:

Text and discourse studies carried out at our college directly relate to the multilingual environment that our students and scholars work in. One of the prominent perspectives taken is the contrastive and comparative study of different discourse styles in different cultures and languages. For example, our researchers have extensively worked on the different discourse practices in Estonian, English and French texts. Another major strand of research in this field covers academic writing. Our researchers have looked into the differences between academic writing in Estonian and in English (L2 English academic writing), between Estonian and French academic genres and in Spanish as L3 academic writing. Finally, another strand of discourse studies analyses the representation of social issues in everyday interaction and media discourse.

Selected publications:


Doctoral students:


A multi-day practical workshop on automatic morpho-syntactic annotation is coming up

VII Jornadas de ELE en Tart

VII Jornadas de ELE en Estonia

Doctoral defence: Marit Karelson „Le Temps d’engagement dans les œuvres d’André Gide et de Johannes Semper: les univers fictionnels entre l’élan vital et la littérature engagée“

On 17 November at 12:00, Marit Karelson will defend her doctoral thesis „Le Temps d’engagement dans les œuvres d’André Gide et de Johannes Semper: les univers fictionnels entre l’élan vital et la littérature engagée“