Dr Ruth Payne

Dr Ruth Payne

Lecturer in Linguistics

Summary: Sociolinguistics; language and gender; language and power; language in the classroom



I completed my first degree as a mature student in Leeds, then went on to take a PGCE in English (11-18yrs) so I could teach in schools. My interest in classroom language emerged during my time as a teacher; I undertook my PhD in the School of Education at Leeds.


My main research interest relates to teachers’ use of language relating to pupils’ social behaviour in the classroom, but this is closely related to an interest in the construction of pupil face and the application of theories of politeness. I am particularly interested in the way politeness functions in contexts which construct asymmetrical power relationships. I also have a specific interest in the language of school behaviour policies and in the use of praise as a motivational strategy.

Other research interests include the construction of gender over time (a project in the Marks & Spencer Archive) and the use of gendered discourses in British culture.


My undergraduate teaching includes the core first year modules Language: Data and Analysis and Language: Meaning and Use, and the two upper level modules Language, Society and Discourse and Language and Gender. I also teach Sociolinguistics at MA level.

Postgraduate supervision

I would be happy to consider applications that relate to classroom language in general, and language used in relation to pupils’ social behaviour in particular. Potential PhD projects also emerge from the Marks & Spencer Archive in relation to the representation of women and men, including multi-modal analysis of data. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any of these in more detail.