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Dr Bimali Indrarathne



I joined the Department of Education in January 2019 as a Lecturer in Applied Linguistics. Before joining York, I worked at King’s College London and Lancaster University. Prior to coming to the UK, I worked as a lecturer at Kotelawala Defence University in Sri Lanka and as an English language teacher in several government schools in Sri Lanka.

I have a PhD in Applied Linguistics and an MA in TESOL, both from Lancaster University. I also have an MA in Linguistics from Kelaniya University, Sri Lanka and a BA from Peradeniya University, Sri Lanka. I hold both Cambridge DELTA and CELTA.

I teach modules on bachelor’s and master’s programme in the department and supervise postgraduate students.  



My main research interest is in the area of second language acquisition. I’m particularly interested in investigating how cognitive aspects are related to input processing, the types of input that are more beneficial for learners and teacher’s role in providing language input to learners.

I also work with teachers, teacher educators and policy planners on several research and teacher education projects related to language education and inclusive practices.


Raising awareness among primary school teachers in Sri Lanka on specific learning difficulties - University of York GCRF funded project

It is estimated that 10% of the world population has some form of learning difficulty such as dyslexia. If identified earlier in life, the remedial actions can help young people to achieve learning goals. In the Sri Lankan context, a lot of children with learning difficulties are deprived of the opportunity to achieve educational goals as most generalist primary teachers have minimal understanding of learning difficulties. The main aim of this impact development project is to design a teacher training module to raise the awareness of generalist primary class teachers in Sri Lanka on learning difficulties, particularly dyslexia, and their consequences in the teaching-learning process.

This project received GCRF funding from University of York and I work with the Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka on this.

Engaging teachers in South Asia with research evidence: Improving English language learning in areas with poor access to resources

In most South Asian contexts, English language teachers work with few resources and no access to research evidence about effective teaching. The aim of this pump priming project is to broker new collaborations and to design and trial a series of teacher training workshops in 2020 to initiate improved understanding of research among English teachers in four South Asian countries: Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The workshops will draw on open accessible summaries of high-quality research on language education from OASIS (led by the Department of Education, York), facilitating bespoke and co-constructed engagement with key implications of research for language education.

This project received GCRF funding from University of York.

Unknown vocabulary density and reading comprehension: Replicating Hu & Nation 2000

Hu and Nation’s (2000) paper on the proportion of words that learner need to know in a text in order to understand it is one of the mostly cited studies in second language acquisition (SLA) research. However, its generalisability has not been thoroughly investigated. In addition, Hu and Nation’s participants are from a WEIRD context (western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic) ie pre-university students at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. This context does not represent some of the typical L2 learning contexts around the world. Considering the significance of Hu and Nation’s study in SLA research, we are replicating it in a non-WEIRD context to investigate the generalisability and transferability of its findings.

This is a project under “SLA for all? Reproducing SLA research in non-academic samples” initiative by Language Learning journal. I work with Dr Benjamin Kremmel (PI - University of Innsbruck) and Professor Judit Kormos (Lancaster University) in this project.

Investigating EAP provision in higher education in South Asia: Current trends and future needs

Although academic literacy skills such as critical thinking and using source material in writing without plagiarising are essential for students and researchers to compete at international level, when it comes to postgraduate study and publishing, there is evidence that support for these aspects of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) is not systematically provided in South Asian universities. The aim of the study is to verify to what extent EAP pedagogies could benefit university students and researchers in South Asia, for the development of internationalisation of the higher education sector, and to identify the resources or training that may be necessary to achieve this. (We are collecting data in four countries: Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka).

This project received the British Council ELTRA grant and I’m collaborating with Dr Sharon McCulloch (PI) from University of Central Lancashire.


  • Jeehaan Terngano: Motivation for Second Language Acquisition in Saudi School-Age Students in UK: Role of the Family
  • Jie Rao: Learning Chinese as a second/foreign Language in the UK and in China: A comparison of the motivation and influencing factors among adult learners

External activities


I am currently a member of American Association for Applied Linguistics.

Editorial duties

I am a reviewer for several journals:  Studies in Second Language Acquisition, Language Learning, Teaching and Teacher Education, TESOL Quarterly, Language Testing, Dyslexia and International Journal of Applied Linguistics

Invited talks and conferences

Indrarathne, B. (2018). Working memory abilities, language learning and dyslexia. Plenary at TESOL Greece Specific Learning Differences Colloquium, Athens, Greece, 25 November.

Indrarathne, B. (2018). Attentional processing of different types of target language input, the amount of input learners need and the role of working memory in processing input. A talk given in the seminar series of Department of Education, Oxford University, 13 November.

Indrarathne, B. (2018). Teaching, learning and assessing grammar: What does research say? Plenary presentation 20th National RESC Conference & the 5th National Conference on Language Assessment, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 10 October.

Indrarathne, B. (2018). Dyslexia, working memory & inclusive practices. A talk given at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad, India, 7 September.

Indrarathne, B. (2018). Dyslexia, working memory & inclusive practices. A talk given at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India, 4 September.

Indrarathne, B. (2018). Dyslexia and ELT in Sri Lanka: A teacher training project – Impact and challenges. A talk given in the Centre for Applied Linguistics, Warwick University, 22 January.


Finalist - PhD Dissertation award by the American Association for Applied Linguistics, 2019.

Postdoctoral Fellowship - ESRC’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Postdoctoral Fellowships Scheme, 2016.

EAP (Study Skills) PhD Scholarship - Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University, 2013-16

Hornby Scholarship (British Council) - MA TESOL, Lancaster University, 2011/12

Contact details

Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +441904322088