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Personal profile


I am a sociolinguist/ applied linguist based in Melbourne, Australia. I am interested in how people use minority languages in Australian society and issues people who speak these languages may face in education and health settings. Much of my recent work looks at Deaf sign language users, but I also have a strong interest in migrant languages, especially for small and newly-arrived migrant groups.

A theme running through my work is how language and identity are intertwined and how linguistic practices emerge from social interactions and institutions. I am particularly interested in the adolescent life-stage and have conducted and supervised numerous research projects on language behaviour and language attitudes among groups of teenagers.

I believe strongly in the importance of researchers building links with policy-making organisations in order to allow insights from research to flow in to policy and vice versa. I have a track record of over 10 years of research consultancy with government and non-government agencies, including the Victorian Deaf Education Institute (a branch of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development), Department of Human Services (Victoria), Victorian Multicultural Commission and Australian Federation of Deaf Societies.


  • Multilingualism
  • Language and Identity
  • Deaf studies
  • Sign language
  • Adolescence
  • Migrant languages

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Selected Projects 2010 2019

Selected Research Output 2005 2018

Migration, heritage languages, and changing demographics in Australia

Ndhlovu, F. & Willoughby, L. 2017 The Routledge Handbook of Heritage Language Education: From Innovation to Program Building. Kagan, O. E., Carreira, M. M. & Hitchens Chik, C. (eds.). 1st ed. New York NY USA: Routledge, p. 22-32 11 p. (Routledge Handbooks in Linguistics)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

Deaf children and youth from refugee backgrounds: Pressing issues and possible solutions

Willoughby, L. J. V. 2015 Creating New Futures: Settling Children and Youth from Refugee Backgrounds. Crock, M. (ed.). Annandale NSW Australia: Federation Press, p. 197 - 212 16 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

What their friends say about the way they talk: the metalanguage of pre-adolescent and adolescent Australians

Willoughby, L. J. V., Starks, D. & Taylor-Leech, K. 2015 In : Language Awareness. 24, 1, p. 84 - 100 17 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Taking a user centred design approach for designing a system to teach sign language

Fisher, J. L., Ellis, K. A., Willoughby, L. J. V. & Barca, J. C. 2014 Proceedings of the 25th Australasian Conference on Information Systems (ACIS 2014). Wang, W. & Pauleen, D. (eds.). Auckland New Zealand: Australasian Conference on Information Systems, p. 1 - 10 10 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


Selected Activities 2010 2017

Auslan Technical Advisory Committee, Skills IQ (External organisation)

Willoughby, L. J. V. (Member)

Activity: Membership of industry collaboration/ network

Victorian Auslan Training Consortium Management Committee (External organisation)

Willoughby, L. J. V. (Member)
2016 → …

Activity: Membership of industry collaboration/ network

External Thesis Examination

Willoughby, L. J. V. (Examiner)
2010 → …

Activity: Thesis Examination

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) (External organisation)

Willoughby, L. J. V. (Member)

Activity: Membership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board

Selected Press / Media

Crickey Language Blog

Louisa Jane Vaughan Willoughby


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Greek, Italian reinstated at school planning to drop them

Louisa Jane Vaughan Willoughby


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Learning a new language

Louisa Jane Vaughan Willoughby


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Expert Comment