Difficult Language Training

This is a paid extension for WGSSS funded students that allows you extra time (up to one year of extra support) to acquire or develop a working ability with a difficult language in order to carry out fieldwork (including for the purposes of UK fieldwork) or other parts of your research.


You can apply for this allowance if you are:

  • an ESRC funded student
  • in the doctoral phase of your¬†award, and
  • the proposed language training was outlined in your¬†original research application.

If you hold a fees-only award, or are in the Masters element of your award, you are not eligible to apply.


The length of the extension is generally determined by the type and nature of the language to be learnt, and your own background. Extensions beyond six months are only normally allowed if you need to spend an extended period overseas in order to obtain these language skills. Please see the section Calculating the length of your Difficult Language Training extension.

Language training may take place in the field and in the UK. If language training takes place while you are doing overseas fieldwork, an application for Overseas Fieldwork Expenses application will also need to be submitted.

If you have followed a pre-described Masters course, you are expected to have already made some degree of language progress and may therefore only apply for a maximum extension of six months.

We cannot accept retrospective claims. An extension cannot be lengthened once training has begun.

How to apply

  1. You and your supervisor should complete the WGSSS Difficult Language Training Application Form. This should contain sufficient detail to show that your school/department agrees with the need for difficult language training.
  2. Your application should be made within 6 months of commencing the PhD programme.
  3. Submit the form to enquiries@walesdtp.ac.uk at least 12 weeks prior to the proposed training.
  4. If your application is successful we will write to you and your supervisor to confirm details of the paid extension.

Note: A Difficult Language Training funding extension will require institutional approval for an equivalent extension to the PhD registration period.

Calculating the length of your Difficult Language Training Extension

To give an indication of the extension you may request, the languages are arranged in four groups. Please note that these are general guidelines and each case is considered on its merits. For example, a student with a degree in Arabic would be unlikely to receive a nine month extension to support additional training in the language.

Group A

Included in this group are unwritten languages or languages in early stage of being analysed and for which no grammars, vocabularies, or other learning aids are available. These might include Amerindian, Papuan languages.

An extension of up to 12 months may be requested.

Group B

Included in this group are:

  • languages for which there are limited descriptive and learning resources available
  • languages which present intrinsic difficulties for speakers of English because they are click, tonal, object-verb-subject, agglutinating, etc
  • languages that require knowledge of a different non-alphabetic script, such as Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and South and South-East Asian languages.

An extension of up to 9 months may be requested.

Group C

Included in this group are difficult languages (as defined in Group B) which have been well described in grammars, vocabularies etc, but for which no learning aids exist, and the language will have mainly to be learnt in the field from unskilled teachers. These might include various African, Melanesian, and Amerindian languages plus some in the Indian sub-continent.

An extension of up to 6 months may be requested.

Group D

Included in this group are languages similar to those in Group C but for which intensive learning materials exist, for example, courses, language laboratory, materials, tapes, etc. This includes all European languages.

An extension of up to 3 months may be requested.