Dr Jennifer Wagner

Introducing Dr Jennifer Wagner

It’s official. I am Dr Jennifer Wagner.

As of December 10, 2015, my degree was conferred by the university council and I have the right to call myself a doctor. My PhD took more than four years, even though nine months at the end was mostly doing paperwork and waiting. The actual research and thesis writing portion was around 3.5 years, which is normal for a PhD in the Commonwealth where there is no coursework. I wrote almost 80,000 words on language and culture in French textbooks. I like to joke that my thesis is a 300 page complaint of the way textbooks teach French – but honestly, I’m only half-joking.

So what led me to do an entire PhD on French textbooks? Anger, mostly. And the frustration at learning things in class that I never heard or used in real life and being utterly confused at the French I heard and read everywhere in France. I learned French in the days before Youtube, or FluentU, or Yabla, and I couldn’t afford expensive cassettes or CDs to listen to French – but that is exactly what I needed. I’m still surprised at how many of my students today think that reading a textbook means they will be able to understand spoken language and have conversations with their peers. Sorry, but it’s not going to happen. Technology is your friend.

I have returned to the US since my Australian visa was expiring but I am looking for jobs in North America, Europe, or Australia/New Zealand. Please let me know if you hear of opportunities in Applied Linguistics, French, or English as a Second Language. If it involves languages, then I’m interested.


  • Jongun65

    Hi Dr Jennie and congrats. I have found you’d site very useful for both French and Spanish, thanks for the great efforts you have made.

    I share one major issue with the way verbs are taught, particularly in Spanish. To me, with the way prepositions modify verbs (English is probably the extreme example with phrasal verbs) I think verbs and prepositions should be leaned together. Prepositions seem to be quite tricky, eg in Spanish they say “dream with” rather than “dream of”.

    What do you think of that?

    • Thanks! Yes, learning prepositions with verbs is always a good idea, as well as the conjugated forms of verbs rather than focusing just on the infinitives. Learning vocabulary as chunks or phrases instead of individual words helps too – plus it aids with grammar acquisition instead of memorizing rules and trying to apply them with each new phrase or sentence.

  • Eileen

    Congratulations Dr Wagner! Well done! Those last 9 months sound like they were a big pain but still, what an accompishment.

  • Yay! Congratulations!

    I am happy for you, I hope you’ll find an interesting position soon!

  • Thanks Laura

  • Congratulations! I’m happy to hear that more people in academia are criticizing textbooks and traditional methods. I’m a huge proponent of media-based immersion methods and learning through context, so your thesis sounds right up my alley!