Dr Vally Lytra

Staff details

Position Senior Lecturer
Department Educational Studies
Email v.lytra (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 7717 3363
Dr Vally Lytra

Vally is Senior Lecturer in Languages in Education. She completed her BA in English Language and Literature at the University of Athens, Greece and continued with her graduate studies first at Georgetown University, Washington DC (MSc Applied Linguistics, 1996) and then at King's College London (PhD Sociolinguistics, 2003). Before joining Goldsmiths, she lectured at other London Universities and at the English Department, University of Bern, Switzerland.

She is Head of MA Studies and Head of the MA Multilingualism: Linguistics and Education for Educational Studies, jointly taught with English and Comparative Literature. Her main teaching duties are on the MA Education: Culture, Language and Identity and the MA Multilingualism: Linguistics and Education. She leads the module on "Bilingualism and Biculturalism in Education" and contributes to the modules on "Culture, Language and Identity", "Researching Language, Culture and Identity", "Teaching Language in Multilingual Contexts", and "Early Childhood Education for a Diverse Society". She also contributes to the modules on "Culture and Identity" (Year 1) and  "Language, Creativity and Communication" (Year 3) for the BA Education Culture and Society as well as in the academic literacies programme for MA students and in the departmental doctoral training programme.

Vally is Chair of the Departmental Research Ethics and Integrity Committee.

Research Interests

Vally is a member of the Centre for Language, Culture and Learning. She was Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King's College London from 2003 until 2015.

A common thread running through her research and practice is a focus on bilingualism and biliteracy in homes, schools and communities that have experienced diverse migration flows. Her work has been shaped by an emergent and dynamic view of language and literacy development, advocating for the need to understand and leverage bilingualism and biliteracy as a resource for education and well-being for all. Vally has conducted fieldwork in Greece, the UK, and Switzerland.

Her doctoral research on language use and identity construction among a group of linguistically and culturally diverse students in an Athens primary school was published in "Play Frames and Social Identities: Contact Encounters in a Greek Primary School" (Benjamins 2007). As Co-Investigator of the ESRC-funded project "Investigating Multilingualism in Complementary Schools in Four Communities" (2007-2008), she developed an interest in students', teachers' and parents' language and other communicative practices and language ideologies in complementary schools. This led to the publication of the edited book "Sites of Multilingualism: Complementary Schools in Britain Today" with Peter Martin (Trentham 2010).

Other areas of interest include international education, particularly supporting the entire linguistic and cultural repertoires of children and families and the cultural and multicultural dimensions of English as global language. 

Moreover, she has a long-standing interest in language and ethnicity, especially individual and collective representations of “Turks” and “Turkey” in Greece. The latter was the point of departure for two edited collections: "Multilingualism and Identities across Contexts: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on Turkish-speaking Youth in Europe" with Jens Normann Jørgensen (2008) and "When Greeks and Turks Meet: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Relationship since 1923" (Ashgate 2014).

Furthermore, as Co-Investigator of the ESRC-funded project "Becoming Literate in Faith Settings: Language and Literacy Learning in the Lives of New Londoners" (2009-2013), she developed an interest in the role of faith in children's language and literacy learning, their socialisation and their personal and collective identification (see www.belifs.co.uk for project details). The faith literacies project culminated in the edited book "Languages, Literacies and Identities: Religion in Young Lives" with Dinah Volk and Eve Gregory (Routledge, 2016).

More recently, she started an exploratory study on the intersection of faith and language in the development of women's professional identities, practices and beliefs in INGOs, through a life history approach.

In November 2017, Vally was invited main speaker to discuss the role of faith as a force for learning, socialisation and personal and collective identification in young people’s lives in London at the public engagement conference "Languages and spiritual traditions. Linguistic diversity and religious diversity in the city of Barcelona". The conference was organized by Linguapax International, a non-government organisation dedicated to raising awareness for and supporting linguistic diversity worldwide, to mark its 30th Anniversary.

You can listen to Vally's talk [in Part 2] here: Linguapax Conference on Languages and Spiritual Traditions

Since 2009, Vally has been observing the confluence of old and new mobilities in the context of the Greek diaspora in Lausanne, Switzerland. She has been documenting established and new cultural and educational initiatives that have emerged as part of an on-going ethnographic study of continuation and change in practices, identities and ideologies in this diasporic community. This engagement has led to two community-based, creative writing projects "40+ Years Greek School of Lausanne" (in Greek, 2011) and "Livre Souvenir, Hellenic Association of Lausanne-Estia" (in Greek, 2015).

In June 2017, Vally was invited to participate in a community symposium on Greek heritage language education and delivered a talk on the linguistic, cultural, social and economic significance of complementary schools in London. You can listen to Vally's talk at the Cypriot Greek dialect symposium

In July 2017, Vally participated in the establishment of a new not-for-profit educational and cultural association whose aim is to provide Greek language and culture classes to children and adults. An important distinguishing feature is the emphasis it places on bridging Greek language and culture with the multi-ethnic Swiss society. She is currently investigating the implications the re-conceptualisation of the Greek school's mission has for pedagogy and curriculum as well as for how Greek diasporic communities are imagined. As part of the first celebration of the International Day of the Greek Language (9 February 2018) she organised and led a round table discussion with adult Greek language learners on "Itinéraires de langue et identité grecques à travers les expériences d'élèves adultes à Lausanne".

Vally is currently supervising the following doctoral students:

  • Büşra Akgün Ezin - Children agency in Family Language Policy: A case study of Turkish-speaking families in the UK [Scholarship from the Turkish Ministry of Education]
  • Maria Charalambous - Negotiating and constructing a reflexive multiliteracies pedagogy in a Greek complementary school in London [Leventis studentship]
  • Steve Dixon-Smith- An exploration of the discursive construction of identities of 1st year architecture students from BME backgrounds [SeNSS studentship]
  • Arani Ilankuberan - What effects do watching Tamil Hindu devotional films have upon second-generation British Tamil Hindu teenagers’ identity?
  • Sanju Unjore - The washback effects of the HSC exams on the teaching and learning of English literature on a group of Mauritian learners [Commonwealth scholarship]
  • Cátia Verguete - The language policy cycle: Portuguese language provision in England
  • Thomas Quehl- Pedagogical spaces: Teacher agency in multilingual pedagogies

Successful PhD completions:

  • Rahaf Alaba - A communicative approach to Arabic language proficiency testing in the light of diglossia
  • Hanadi Alothman - Implementing an Early Childhood Curriculum in different cultural contexts: A study of an Arabic early literacy model in a Saudi Arabian preschool
  • Bomiegha Ayomoto - Investigating language use, shift and change across generations in Nigeria: The case of Ijaw
  • Iskender Gelir - An ethnographic investigation of Kurdish preschool children learning Turkish language and literacy in Turkey [Scholarship from the Turkish Ministry of Education




Lytra, Vally. 2007. Play Frames and Social Identities. Contact Encounters in a Greek Primary School. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. ISBN 978-9027254078

Edited Book

Lytra, Vally; Volk, Dinah and Gregory, Eve E., eds. 2016. Religion in Young Lives: Navigating Language, Literacies and Identities. Abingdon and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-1138824249

Lytra, Vally, ed. 2014. When Greeks and Turks Meet: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Relationship Since 1923. Farnham, Surrey; Burlington, VT: Ashgate. ISBN 978-1-4094-4602-6

Lytra, Vally and Martin, Peter, eds. 2010. Sites of Multilingualism. Complementary Schools in Britain Today. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham. ISBN 1858564549

Lytra, Vally and Jørgensen, J N, eds. 2008. Multilingualism and Identities across Contexts: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on Turkish-speaking Youth in Europe. University of Copenhagen (Copenhagen Studies in Bilingualism 45). ISBN 879162100-3

Book Section

Lytra, Vally. 2019. Faith Communities. In: Karin Tusting, ed. The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Ethnography. Routledge. ISBN 9781138938168

Lytra, Vally. 2019. Conclusion. In: Aspasia Chatzidaki; Claudine Kirsch; Argyro Panagiotopoulou and Lisa Rosen, eds. 'New' Migration of Families from Greece to Europe and Canada: A 'New' Challenge for Education? Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 237-252. ISBN 9783658255206

Lytra, Vally. 2019. Discourse and religion in educational practice. In: Anna De Fina and Alexandra Georgakopoulou, eds. Handbook of Discourse Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lytra, Vally. 2018. Faith literacies matter: Reflecting on the role of faith as a force for learning, socialisation and personal and collective identification in young people's lives in a global city. In: A. Fuentes Calle, ed. Languages and Spiritual Traditions. Linguistic Diversity and Religious Diversity in Global Cities. Barcelona: LinguaPax International, pp. 45-56.

Lytra, Vally. 2017. Playful talk, learners’ play frames and the construction of identities. In: S. Wortham; D. Kim and S. May, eds. Encyclopedia of Language and Education. 3 New York: Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-02242-0

Lytra, Vally; Gregory, Eve E. and Ilankuberan, Arani. 2017. Researching children's literacy practices and identities in faith settings: Multimodal text-making and talk about text as resources for knowledge building. In: Marilyn Martin-Jones and Deirdre Martin, eds. Researching Multilingualism: Critical and Ethnographic Perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 215-228. ISBN 9780415748421

Lytra, Vally; Gregory, E. and Ilankuberan, A.. 2016. “Children's representations of the Temple in text and talk in a Tamil Hindu/Saiva faith community in London”. In: V. Lytra; D. Volk and E. Gregory, eds. Navigating Languages, Literacies and Identities: Religion in Young Lives. New York: Routledge, pp. 141-158. ISBN 9781138824249

Lytra, Vally; Volk, Dinah and Gregory, E.. 2016. "Introduction". In: V. Lytra; Dinah Volk and E. Gregory, eds. Navigating Languages, Literacies and Identities: Religion in Young Lives. New York: Routledge, pp. 1-17. ISBN 9781138824249

Fay, Richard; Sifakis, Nicos and Lytra, Vally. 2016. Interculturalities of English as a Lingua Franca: International communication and multicultural awareness in the Greek context. In: P. Holmes and F. Dervin, eds. The Cultural and Intercultural Dimensions of English as a Lingua Franca. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, pp. 67-92. ISBN 9781783095094

Lytra, Vally. 2016. Language and ethnic identity. In: S. Preece, ed. The Routledge Hanbook of Language and Identity. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 131-145. ISBN 978-1-138-77472-8

Lytra, Vally and Muldering, Jane. 2015. Introduction: Analysis of language and significations. In: Paul Smeyers; David Bridges; Nicholas Burbules and Morwenna Griffiths, eds. International Handbook on Interpretation in Educational Research Methods. Springer, pp. 283-285. ISBN 978-9401792813

Lytra, Vally. 2015. Language practices and language ideologies among Turkish-speaking young people in Athens and London. In: Jacomine Nortier and Bente A Svendsen, eds. Language, Youth and Identity in the 21st Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 183-204. ISBN 978-1107016989

Lytra, Vally. 2014. Introduction. In: Vally Lytra, ed. When Greeks and Turks Meet: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Relationship since 1923. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 1-20. ISBN 978-1409446019

Lytra, Vally. 2014. Multilingualism, multimodality and media engagement in classroom talk and action. In: Jannis Androutsopoulos, ed. Mediatization and Sociolinguistic Change. Mouton: Walter de Gruyter & Co, pp. 245-268. ISBN 978-3110343571

Lytra, Vally. 2013. From kebapçı to professional: The commodification of language discourse and social mobility in Turkish complementary schools in the UK. In: Alexandre Duchene; Melissa Moyer and Celia Roberts, eds. Language, Migration and Social (In)equality. A Critical Sociolinguistic Perspective on Institutions and Work. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, pp. 147-167. ISBN 978-1783090990

Lytra, Vally. 2012. Multilingualism and multimodality. In: Marilyn Martin-Jones; Angela Creese and Adrian Blackledge, eds. Handbook of Multilingualism. Routledge, pp. 543-559. ISBN 978-0415496476

Lytra, Vally; Martin, P; Barac, T and Bhatt, A. 2010. Investigating the intersection of multilingualism and multimodality in Turkish and Gujarati literacy classes. In: Vally Lytra and Peter Martin, eds. Sites of Multilingualism Complementary Schools in Britain Today. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham, pp. 19-31. ISBN 978-1858564548

Lytra, Vally and Barac, T. 2009. Multilingual practices and identity negotiations among Turkish-speaking young people in a diasporic context. In: Anna-Brita Stedström and Annette Myre Jørgensen, eds. Youngspeak in a Multilingual Perspective. Amsterdam: Benjamins, pp. 55-78. ISBN 978-9027254290

Lytra, Vally; Barac, T; Blackledge, Adrian; Bhatt, A; Creese, A; Hamid, S; Martin, Peter; Wu, C-J and Yağcıoğlu-Ali, D. 2008. Language practices, language ideologies and identity construction in London Turkish complementary schools. In: Vally Lytra and J N Jørgensen, eds. Multilingualism and Identities across Contexts: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on Turkish-speaking Youth in Europe. University of Copenhagen, pp. 15-43.

Lytra, Vally. 2008. Playful talk, learners’ play frames and the construction of identities. In: M Martin-Jones and A-M de Mejia, eds. Encyclopaedia of Language and Education. Springer, pp. 185-197.


Lytra, Vally. 2019. Revisiting language and religion in a post-secular world. Journal of Sociolinguistics, ISSN 1360-6441

Lytra, Vally; Gregory, Eve E. and Ilankuberan, Arani. 2017. “Faith matters: Rethinking home learning of children from different faiths”. EAL Journal, Summer, pp. 30-31. ISSN 2398-8533

Lytra, Vally; Gregory, Eve E. and Ilankuberan, Arani. 2016. Bridging faith, languages and learning in London: A faith teacher reflects upon pedagogy in religious instruction classes. Language and Education, 30(6), pp. 554-569. ISSN 0950-0782

Gregory, Eve E.; Lytra, Vally and Ilankuberan, Arani. 2015. “Divine games and rituals: How Tamil Saiva/Hindu siblings learn faith practices through play”. International Journal of Play, 4(1), pp. 69-83. ISSN 2159-4937

Lytra, Vally. 2014. Revisiting discourses of language, identity and community in a transnational context through a commemorative book project. Multilingua, 33(5-6), pp. 551-574. ISSN 0167-8507

Gregory, Eve E.; Lytra, Vally; Choudhury, Halimun; Ilankuberan, Arani; Kwapong, Amoafi and Woodham, Malgozarta. 2013. Syncretism as a creative act of mind: The narratives of children from four faith communities in London. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 13(3), pp. 322-347. ISSN 1468-7984

Gregory, Eve E.; Lytra, Vally; Ilankuberan, Arani; Choudhury, Halimun; Kwapong, Amoafi and Woodham, Malgozarta. 2012. Translating Faith: Field Narratives as a Means of Dialogue in Collaborative Ethnographic Research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 11(3), pp. 195-213. ISSN 1609-4069

Lytra, Vally. 2012. Discursive constructions of language and identity: parents' competing perspectives in London Turkish complementary schools. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 33(1), pp. 85-100. ISSN 0143-4632

Lytra, Vally. 2011. Negotiating Language, Culture and Pupil Agency in Complementary School Classrooms. Linguistics and Education, 22(1), pp. 23-36. ISSN 0898-5898

Fay, R; Lytra, Vally and Ntavaliagkou, M. 2010. Multicultural awareness through English: A potential contribution of TESOL to Greek schools. Intercultural Education, 21(5), pp. 581-595. ISSN 1467-5986

Lytra, Vally. 2009. Constructing academic hierarchies: Teasing and identity work among peers at school. Pragmatics, 19(3), pp. 449-466. ISSN 1018-2101

Lytra, Vally. 2007. Teasing in contact encounters: Frames, participant positions and responses. Multilingua, 26(4), pp. 381-408. ISSN 0167-8507


Lytra, Vally. 2011. 40+ Years Greek School of Lausanne. Parents’ Association Greek School of Lausanne, Lausanne.