Research Staff Interests

Emeritus Professor  Nigel  Hall


Nigel Hall has interests in young children's developing knowledge of language and literacy, particularly with respect to punctuation, play and literacy, and writing. He has published extensively in all the above areas. He is also interested in literacy as a social practice, both currently and historically, and how this notion relates to primary-school literacy education.

He was the Director of the Punctuation Project which, supported by three ESRC awards, sought to understand how children make sense of punctuation and how teachers might best teach it. A more recent specialist interest has been in the field of child language brokering. He headed a recent ESRC seminar series on the topic Children and Adolescents as Language Brokers and

He was a co-founder and joint-editor of the international research journal, the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy. In the last few years he developed a considerable interest in some historical aspects of literacy such the history of the material aspects of writing, in particular the history of the writing slate and, with Julia Gillen from Lancaster University, the study of everyday writing in the Edwardian period as evidenced on Edwardian postcards.

Research Interests

The history of the material aspects of writing, in particular the history of erasable writing technologies, particularly the writing slate, and the history of everyday, vernacular writing.


Hall, N., Larson, J. and Marsh, J. (eds 2004) Handbook of Early Childhood Literacy. London: Sage

Refereed Journal Articles

Hall, N. and Guery, F. (2010) Child language brokering: some considerations, in Antonini, Rachele (ed) Child Language Brokering: Trends and Patterns in Current Research Special Issue of MediAzioni vol 9 online here

Hall, N. and Sham, S. (2007) Language brokering as young people's work: evidence from Chinese adolescents in England. Language and Education 21(1) pp16-30 online here

Hall, N. (2003) The role of the slate in Lancasterian schools as evidenced by their manuals and handbooks. Paradigm, 2, 7: pp 46-54

Hall, N. (2001) Being in role: literacy, drama and role play. Reading: Reading and Language Information Centre, Reading University.

Hall, N. (2001) Real literacy in a school setting: five-year-olds take on the world, in Padak, N. and Rasinski, T. (eds) Distinguished Educators on Reading: Contributions that have Shaped Literacy Instruction. Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association: pp 473-487

Hall, N. (2001) Punctuation: a child's eye view. in Austrad, I. and Lyssard, E. (eds) Literacy - challenges for the new millennium. Selected paper of the 11th European Conference on Reading. Centre for Reading Research and European Reading Association

Gillen, J. and Hall, N. (2001) Hiya, Mum! Analysis of pretence telephone play in a nursery setting. Early Years 21:1: pp 15-24

Book Chapters

Gillen, J. & Hall, N. (2010) Edwardian postcards: illuminating ordinary writing, in Barton, D. & Papen, U. (eds) The Anthropology of Writing Continuum pp169-189

Gillen, J. & Hall, N. (2010) Any mermaids? Tracing early postcard mobilities, in Urry, J., Büscher, M. & Witchger, K. (eds) Mobile Methods pp20-35. London: Routledge

Hall, N. & Sing, S. Developing an understanding of punctuation, in Riley, J., Myhill, D., Beard, R. and Nystrand, M. (eds) The Sage Handbook of Writing Development London: Sage Publications

Sing, S. and Hall, N.(2009) Listening to children think about punctuation, in Carter, A., Lillis, T. and Parkin, S. (eds) Why Writing Matters: Issues of Access and Identity in Writing Research and Pedagogy pp189-203, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company

Hall, N. & Gillen, J. (2007) Purchasing Pre-packed words: Complaint and Reproach in Early British Postcards in Lyons, M. (ed) Ordinary writing, personal narratives: writing practices in the 19th and early 20th century pp101-117, Berne, Switzerland: Peter Lang

Hall, N. (2004) The Child in the Middle: agency and diplomacy in language brokering events, in Hansen, G., Malmkjar, K. and Gile, D. (eds) Claims, Changes and Challenges in Translation Studies. Amsterdam: John Benjamins

Hall, N. and Robinson, A. (2003) Exploring Writing and Play in the Early Years, 2nd Edition. London: David Fulton

Hall, N. (2001) Play and literacy learning, in Barratt-Pugh, C. & Rohl, M.(eds) Literacy Learning in the Early Years. New South Wales, Australia. Allen & Unwin: pp 81-104

Hall, N. (2001) Developing understanding of punctuation with young writers and readers, in Evans, J. (ed) The Writing Classroom: aspects of writing and the primary child. Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Heinemann/London: David Fulton


link to eSpace publications

Research-based Contributions to Practitioner and Academic Conferences

Organiser of the international conference Children and Adolescents as Language Brokers held at MMU on March 12th 2005

Covener of colloquium on Child and Adolescent Language Brokering at the 5th International Symposium on Bilingualism, Barcelona, 21-23rd March 2005

Interpreting as action: young children's behaviour in language brokering events. International Sociolinguistics Symposium. Ghent. May 2002

Conference Papers

Gillen, J. & Hall, N. (2009) 'The Edwardian postcard: a revolutionary moment in rapid multimodal communications.' presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference (BERA), University of Manchester, 2-5 September

Gillen, J. & Hall, N. (2008) 'Using Edwardian postcards to study ordinary writing. L'écriture ordinaire saisie à travers les cartes postales édouardiennes.' British Assocation for Applied Linguistics Linguistic Ethnography Forum meeting Ethnographies of literacy: an Anglo-French dialogue (Ethnographies de l'écrit: un dialogue anglo-franÇais) Lancaster University, 8th May

Gillen, J. and Hall, N. (2006) 'Creativity and the Edwardian picture postcard: responses to change in the materiality of literacy.' presented at the 28th session of the International Standing Conference for the History of Education: Technologies of the Word: literacies in the history of education Umea, Sweden, August 16th-19th

Gillen, J. and Hall, N. (2004) 'A revolutionary moment in informal, near synchronous, multimodal writing practices: the postcard.' presented at Sociolinguistics Symposium University of Newcastle

Hall, N. (2003) 'The language brokering experiences of ten year old children of Pakistani heritage.' presented at 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism University of Arizona, Phoenix, USA

'Children's language brokering: burdens, responsibilities and powers.' presented at Annual Conference of the Reading Association of Ireland, Reading the World: Language Literacy and Diversity Dublin, October 3rd-5th 2002

'Power and control in young children's language brokering.' presented at the annual conference of British Educational Research Association (BERA) Exeter University, 12-14 September 2002

Postgraduate Students Supervised

Dunne, M.

Wassouf, C. (2007) The Development of Key Stage Two Children's Understanding of Grammatical Punctuation. PhD Thesis, MMU

Guo, Z. (2007) Young Children as Cultural Mediators: a study of mandarin-speaking Chinese families in the UK. PhD Thesis, MMU

Sing, S. (2006) Making Sense of the Apostrohe: young children's explorations into the world of punctuation. PhD Thesis, MMU


Position/Post: Emeritus Professor of Literacy Education