Maria Blanco-Hermida

Senior Lecturer

+44 20 7911 5000 ext 69103
309 Regent Street London W1B 2HW

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Westminster Professional Language Centre | Department

I am a Senior Lecturer in Spanish at the Westminster Professional Language Centre, and the Spanish Coordinator of Polylang, the Open Language Programme of the University which delivers Spanish language courses from beginners to advance level to the university students, staff and members of the public.

Alongside my Spanish coordinator role, at Westminster, I have held a number of roles such as DELE (Diploma de Español Lengua Extranjera) Exams Officer and Head of Exams, conference and training event’s organiser, and Spanish Language and Culture consultant in two AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council)  funded knowledge transfer projects ('Museums and Galleries and the International Visitor Experience', and 'Languages and International Events').At present, I am  involved in 'Language Acts and Worldmaking', a flagship project funded by the AHRC Open World Research Initiative, which aims to regenerate and transform modern language learning by foregrounding language's power to shape how we live and make our worlds.

I have founded SMART-Learning for Spanish, an educational centre dedicated to coaching and training students and teachers on smart language learning strategies. And I have recently published 'SMART-Ways for Learning SPANISH', a book for students of Spanish up to intermediate level and for teachers who would like to coach and train students in smart learning principles and strategies. You can read here the introduction to the book. 

As a teacher trainer, I am interested in facilitating the design of effective frameworks for integrating language learning strategies in foreign language courses. I currently deliver teacher training sessions on this topic in the General Certificate in Spanish Language Teaching to Adults (GCSLTA) run by the Instituto Cervantes London and accredited by the University of Roehampton (UK). And I have given teacher training presentations and workshops at the University of Westminster,  the University of Notingham, Universidad de Salamanca (Spain),  Consejería de Educación en el Reino Unido y República de Irlanda, Instituto Cervantes London and Instituto Cervantes Berlin.

Currently, I am also working as a Spanish Development Editor in a graded readers project for Hodder & Stoughton, and as a IGCSE Spanish Examiner for Cambridge International Examinations.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, member of the AILA Research Network on Learner Autonomy, and a member of  ELE-UK (UK Association for the Teaching of Spanish in Higher and Adult Education). 

Before joining the University of Westminster I had worked extensively as a learning advisor, and Spanish language teacher and examiner in British and Spanish educational institutions and business organisations.


I graduated from the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca (Spain) with a BA (Hons) in Education, and later went on to complete an MA in Modern Languages in Education at the UCL Institute of Education (London). 

I have been trained in “Improving Language Learning Styles-and-Strategies-Based Instruction” at the University of Minnesota (USA), and in coaching skills at the University of Westminster and The Coaching Academy. I also hold an EUROLTA Teacher Trainer qualification, a DELE (Diploma de Español Lengua Extranjera) examiner accreditation and a Certificate in Spanish Language Teaching to Adults from International House Madrid.

I teach Spanish Language in Polylang, the University's Open Language Programme.

My teaching approach is a synthesis of communicative language teaching principles, accelerated learning techniques and strategy awareness-raising activities that support the effective development of communicative competence, learner’s autonomy and lifelong learning strategies.

My research interests lie in the field of language learning strategies on two areas: a) learning strategies used by good language learner, b) frameworks for language learning strategy training. The research has a particular focus on learner’s voice  i.e. learners perceptions regarding their own learning process and strategy use.

My current research project in progress is on vocabulary learning strategies of good learners of Spanish as Foreign Language.

Selected projects, papers and workshops

Estrategias para un aprendizaje independiente y efectivo. Taller para profesores de ELE (Instituto Cervantes Berlín, 15th  December 2017).

  • '3+1 Golden Keys for Successful Language Learning'. Workshops for Polylang -Open Language Centre students (University of Westminster, 6th & 8 th November 2017).
  • 'Making Language Learning More Effective In and Outside The Classroom With Learning Strategies'. Staff Development Session for languages department (University of Nottingham, 25th November 2016).

  • '(Towards) research informed principles for teaching and learning vocabulary'. ELE-UK Encuentro 2016 (University of Reading, 24th June 2016). 
  • 'Supporting flexible and lifelong learning with language learning strategies'. Staff Development Session for the Westminster Professional Language Centre (University of Westminster, 20th June 2016).
  • 'Estrategias para aprender ELE dentro y fuera del aula'. Talleres de español de la Consejería de Educación en el Reino Unido (Instituto español "Vicente Cañada Blanch", London, 18th June 2016).

   ‘Vocabulary Learning Strategies of GLL’. WPLC Research Seminar (University of Westminster, 28th October 2015)

  • ‘Equipemos a los alumnos de ELE para la autonomía con estrategias de aprendizaje’. Workshop delivered at an ELE-UK teacher training event  (Instituto Cervantes in London, 5th December 2014).
  • ‘Exploring the listening process to inform the development of strategy awareness-raising materials.’ Action research project focused on identifying (a) strategies used by the students in listening coursework tasks, (b) easy and difficult aspects of the tasks, and (c) affective responses to the tasks, (University of Westminster, 2009-10).
  • ‘Implementing a strategy awareness raising programme: strategy changes and feedback.’ Action research project aimed at analysing the impact of a strategy awareness raising programme on the students' learning process in three main areas: strategy awareness, strategy use in learning Spanish, and transfer of strategies from Spanish to other subjects (University of Westminster, 2007-8).
  • ‘Seeking to facilitate language learning – Explicit learner strategy awareness training in the FL classroom.’ Paper presented at the ‘Interface with Linguistics Conference’, (University of Westminster, 27th October 2007).
  • ‘Piloting a framework for learner strategy training to support independent learning.’ Paper presented at the ‘Linking teaching and research in Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies Conference’, Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies Conference (University of Southampton,10th July 2007).
  • ‘Supporting independent learning through 'uncomplicated' and effective learner strategy training.’ Paper presented at the Teaching and Learning Symposium (University of Westminster, 5th July 2006).
  • ‘Enseñar estrategias de aprendizaje en la clase de ELE: por qué, cuáles, cómo y cuándo’. Workshop delivered at the summer school for teachers of Spanish as Foreign Language (Universidad de Salamanca, 3rd August 2005).

  • ‘Towards Strategy Instruction – A preliminary Exploration.’ Action research study aimed at exploring two students’ account of (a) the language learning strategies they used more frequently and factors that may have influenced their choice;(b) their assessment of the strategies used; and (c) strategies that they might have liked to be taught in their language courses (MA Dissertation, UCL Institute of Education, London 2002).


Smart Ways for Learning Spanish (2017)
Blanco-Hermida, M. Blanco-Hermida, M. (ed.) 2017. Smart Ways for Learning Spanish . Amazon CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.


Exploring the listening process to inform the development of strategy awareness-raising materials (2012)
Blanco-Hermida, M. and Guisado, J.J. 2012. Exploring the listening process to inform the development of strategy awareness-raising materials. The Language Learning Journal. 40 (2), pp. 223-236.


Implementing a strategy awareness raising programme: strategy changes and feedback (2010)
Blanco-Hermida, M., Pino, M. and Rodriguez, B. 2010. Implementing a strategy awareness raising programme: strategy changes and feedback. Language Learning Journal. 38 (1), pp. 51-65.
Ventajas en la incorporación de estrategias de aprendizaje en la enseñanza de idiomas. Estudio cualitativo (2010)
Blanco-Hermida, M., Pino, M. and Rodriguez, B. 2010. Ventajas en la incorporación de estrategias de aprendizaje en la enseñanza de idiomas. Estudio cualitativo. Innovación Educativa. 20, pp. 61-73.


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