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Contact details +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 83565

Prof Cynthia White BA(Hons), DipTESL, BA

Pro Vice-Chancellor College of Humanities and Social Sciences

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Cynthia White is Professor of Applied Linguistics in the School of Linguistics and International Languages, and has published two books (Cambridge University Press, Multilingual Matters), and over 60 articles and chapters on distance and online language learning, language and migration, and language, emotion and identity. In 2004 Cynthia received the International TESOL Virginia French Allen Award for Scholarship and Service to the TESOL profession. In 2008 she was invited presenter at the Bertelsmann Foundation, Berlin, on language, settlement and social cohesion among immigrant youth. She serves on the Editorial Boards of seven international journals including Language Learning & Technology, Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, Language Teaching and Language Learning Journal. She was an invited member of the International Project on Language Learner Strategies (IPoLLS) (2004-2008), and serves as external expert at the US National Middle East Language Resource Centre for Arabic distance learning initiatives. Cynthia has completed collaborative research projects with the Open University UK and Nottingham University in online language teaching and has been plenary speaker at international conferences and workshops in Germany, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, China, UK, Hawai'i and Malaysia.

Roles and Responsibilities

Cynthia White is Head of the School of Linguistics and International Languages, and a member of the Massey University Council and the Honorary Awards Committee. She is a member of Academic Board and of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Executive Group and serves on the Professorial Promotions Committee and the Maori Language Advisory Group. Nationally she has acted in advisory roles for the Office of Ethnic Affairs and the National Association of ESOL Home Tutor Schemes. She served as honorary member of the Research Committee, Centre for English Language Education, University of Nottingham, and is a member of the Humanities and Law PBRF Panel 2006-2012.

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  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) - Victoria University (1978)
  • Diploma in Teaching English as a Second Language - Victoria University (1978)
  • Bachelor of Arts - Victoria University (1977)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Research interests include strategies, emotion and identity in online and distance language learning, language and settlement issues for immigrants and refugees, and more recently discourses of national identity, resilience and belonging in transnational digital networks.


21st Century Citizenship

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Applied Linguistics and Educational Linguistics (200401): Languages, Communication And Culture (200000): Linguistics (200400)

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Not Specified 0 1
Project Leader 2 8

Research Outputs

Teaching and Supervision

Courses Coordinated

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Supervisor 6 14
Co-supervisor 2 4

Current Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • Hanna Brookie - Doctor of Philosophy
    Language, belonging and social cohesion: a study of refugees settling in Sweden and New Zealand
  • Hona Black - Doctor of Philosophy
    TE REO MĀORI ACROSS GENERATIONS: Narratives, expressions, attitudes and agency of fluent speakers.
  • Huan Huang - Doctor of Philosophy
    The Dynamics of Willingness to Communicate in Synchronous Chinese Online Language Teaching and Learning
  • Kanokphan Tongpong - Doctor of Philosophy
    Language Teacher Agency in English for Medical Purposes in the Thai Tertiary Context
  • Chujie Dai - Doctor of Philosophy
    The speaking strategies and agency of New Zealand learners of Chinese in one-to-one videoconferencing sessions with native speaker teachers
  • Hong Nguyen - Doctor of Philosophy
    Emotion in second language acquisition in Vietnamese high school contexts.

Co-supervisor of:

  • Hone Morris - Doctor of Philosophy
    Kei tua o te kupu ta he kura tangata, he kura whenua: Beyond the written word lie human connection, land connection
  • Lin Li - Doctor of Philosophy
    A Corpus-based research on the use of verb and noun collocations by advanced English-speaking learners of Chinese and the construction of Chinese collocation knowledge database

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • 2019 - Panithi Amatayakul - Doctor of Philosophy
    Teacher Perspectives on the Development of Business English Programmes in the Thai Tertiary Context
  • 2018 - Siti Nur'Aini - Doctor of Philosophy
    Identity-agency and life-course agency of English teachers in Tegal, Banyumasan area, Indonesia
  • 2018 - Fahd Hamad A Alqasham - Doctor of Philosophy
    "Virtual social network-mediated English language learning in a Saudi tertiary EFL context: Innovation and agency"
  • 2016 - Huy Cuong Pham - Doctor of Philosophy
    An ecological perspective on the motivational trajectories of high school students learning English in rural areas in Vietnam
  • 2014 - Hong Anh Pham - Doctor of Philosophy
    Innovation and Identity in Web 2.0 Environments: Perspectives and Experiences of Vietnamese University Teachers and Learners of English
  • 2014 - Adele Scott - Doctor of Philosophy
    Teachers of additional languages in New Zealand schools: A national survey and case studies
  • 2014 - Jane Kehrwald - Doctor of Philosophy
    Towards An Understanding of Language Learner Development and Learners' Self-Concepts: An Exploratory Practice Approach
  • 2012 - Maryam Mariya - Doctor of Philosophy
    'I dont learn at school, so I take tuition' An ethnographic study of classroom practices and private tuition settings in the Maldives
  • 2011 - Van Nguyen - Doctor of Philosophy
    Computer-mediated collaborative learning in a Vietnamese tertiary EFL context
  • 2010 - Thitirat Suwannasom - Doctor of Philosophy
    Teacher cognition about technology-mediated EFL instruction in the Thai tertiary context
  • 2009 - Arianna Berardi-Wiltshire - Doctor of Philosophy
    Italian identity and heritage language motivation: Five stories of heritage learning in traditional foreign language courses in Wellington, New Zealand
  • 2008 - Elva Shine - Doctor of Philosophy
    Written feedback in a freshman writing course in the U.A.E: Instructors' and students' perspectives on giving, getting and using feedback
  • 2008 - Gillian Skyrme - Doctor of Philosophy
    Learning "blood lessons":Expectations,emerging issues and change for Chinese international students in a New Zealand university
  • 2006 - Mei Yong - Doctor of Philosophy
    The Nature and Dynamics of Collaborative Writing in a Malaysian Tertiary ESL setting.

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2011 - Farzana Gounder - Doctor of Philosophy
    Restorying Indenture: The first Fiji Hindi speakers Narrate Girmit.
  • 2007 - Bee Tan - Doctor of Philosophy
    On-line Writing Laboratories and their application to ASEAN countries
  • 2005 - Penelope Haworth - Doctor of Philosophy
    Developing Praxis for a few Non-English Speaking Students in the Class.
  • 2002 - Ian Christensen - Doctor of Philosophy
    Ko te Whare Whakamana: Maori Language Revitalisation (Te Whakaora i te Reo Maori).

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