As Professor of Languages and Interdisciplinary Pedagogy, I am fortunate to be able to focus on my two academic passions: research into and promotion of language learning as well as leadership in teaching across the University. I am very privileged to be a member of both the School of Humanities and the Westminster Centre for Education and Teaching Innovation. I led the development of the latter (as the Centre for Teaching Innovation) over a three-year period in order to raise the profile and status of teaching across the University and to create environments that nurture pedagogical research and innovation.
My career began with a BSc(Hons) in Modern Languages from Aston University and a PGCE at Durham University. In my early years as a teacher in London, I studied for an MA in Urban Education at Kings College, University of London. I later obtained my PhD at the University of Nottingham, focusing on the voice of language learners in secondary schools and the relationship between motivation and autonomy.
I spent 16 years teaching languages (French, German, Spanish, Turkish) in secondary schools in London and Derbyshire, before moving into higher education, first at the University of Nottingham and then, until 2016, at the University of Sheffield. I have also carried out advisory work, taught English in Poland and Turkey, and been a consultant to the Ministry of Education in Malaysia on the `Learning how to Learn´ curriculum development project. I am an official EU Expert on Intercultural Education, and in this capacity I have worked as a consultant to the Ministry of Youth, Education and Sport, Czech Republic, on projects relating to the development of a European dimension in the curriculum and to the development of positive attitudes towards the Roma population. I am a member of the Multilingualism Expert Group and the Executive Committee of the European Civil Society Platform for Multilingualism. In 2020 I was invited to join an ad hoc committee of the Council of Europe to draft a Recommendation on Plurilingual Education and Democracy for Ministers to send to Member States.
I have had major roles in the development of language policy nationally and internationally. I am a former President of the Association for Language Learning, was a member of the government's National Languages Steering Group and a governor of CILT, the National Centre for Languages. In 2008 I was given a personal appointment as Chair of the Languages Diploma Development Partnership by the then Secretary of State for Education, Ed Balls. I am also Vice President (and former President and Secretary General) of FIPLV, the Fédération Internationale des Professeurs de Langues Vivantes, which has existed since 1931 and enjoys NGO status with both UNESCO and the Council of Europe.
In 2009, I was awarded the title Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French prime minister for services to languages and European culture, in particular French. I am also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
In Sheffield, I was pleased to be invited to be Patron of Languages Sheffield as well as being elected Vice-Chair of Sheffield City Council’s Children and Young People’s 0-19+ Partnership Board. I am currently building similar relationships in London; I recently became a Trustee of the National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education and am currently developing and chairing the Supplementary Schools Forum in Barking and Dagenham.
In 2007, together with Hayo Reinders from Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand, I founded the international journal, Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching (published by Taylor and Francis), which I continue to edit.
I have a deep commitment to learning and teaching, which dates back to the beginning of my career as a secondary school languages teacher in London. My teaching embodies a series of key values and principles: inclusion and social justice, voice and influence, internationalisation, and innovation, which I have explored in many different ways over the years in order to enhance learning and teaching. These values and principles inform my teaching interests and approaches, as well as my pedagogical leadership.
In my role in the Westminster Centre for Education and Teaching Innovation, I have the responsibility of leading on pedagogical and educational research and scholarship across all colleges. I also have an academic base in the School of Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where I am contributing to the MA in TESOL as well as to an MA module on multilingualism as well as supervising doctoral researchers. My previous experiences in other universities have included a number of leadership roles, such as Director of Learning and Teaching, Director of Initial Teacher Education and developer and director of numerous innovative postgraduate courses, including face-to-face, blended and completely online. In my previous post at the University of Sheffield, I was very pleased to receive a prestigious Senate award for Sustained Excellence in Learning and Teaching, which was presented in a Graduation ceremony.
I have a great deal of experience of working with students and teachers from diverse backgrounds, both within the UK and internationally, and my aim is always to enable them to develop ideas, which are relevant to their own lives and within their own contexts. Most of the students I have taught over the years have been teachers, from early years professionals through to higher education lecturers, who learn to identify their own learning priorities, to take responsibility for their own academic and professional learning, and to develop their skills of critical enquiry, in the process bringing about innovation in their practice. I have also supervised well over twenty doctoral students from around the world to success and I continue to supervise a number of others.
My teaching is underpinned by my research, just as my research informs my teaching. For me, the two are intimately intertwined and of equal value in the university.
Alexandra Rappaport PhD Translanguaging practices among Russian university students in London
Hueyuen Choong PhD An exploration of the effects of music learning sequence on a popular musician’s performing abilities
Adrienne Glad PhD Corporate values and intercultural communication: Building a connected workplace
Joe Sykes PhD The complex stories of autonomous learners: a retrospective inquiry into the development of learner autonomy, in students of an English medium university in Japan, through the application of complexity theory
Zhanna Anikina PhD Improving English proficiency among university staff as a part of continuous professional development
Maha Halabi PhD 2017 Understanding tutors perceptions about the Distance Language Learning Programme (DLLP) and its role in the development of learners’ autonomy: An empirical study at King Abdul-Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Alice Micallef EdD 2017 Pedagogy for autonomy for teacher development in Malta: knowledge, skills and awareness for teaching in the field of foreign language learning
Peipei Kong PhD 2016 A study of teachers' perceptions on how to improve the learning and teaching of English in Chinese secondary schools
Silih Warni PhD 2016 Implementation of electronic portfolios to foster learner autonomy in writing classes
Anfal Aljaser PhD 2015 Making space for reflective learning and teaching in Kuwaiti language classrooms: The case for autonomous learning and teaching
Hashil Al-Sadi PhD 2015 Learner autonomy and voice in a tertiary ELT institution in Oman
Charles Saliba PhD 2015 Teaching Maltese as a second language to adults
Abdallah Elmahjoub PhD 2014 An ethnographic investigation into teachers' and learners' perceptions and practices in relation to learner autonomy in a secondary school in Libya
Lisa Procter PhD 2014 Children, schooling and emotion
Constantinos Tsouris EdD 2014 Collaborative learning integration in the ESP classroom and curriculum: teachers’ and students’ perceptions and practices
Kerstin Zindler EdD 2014 Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) and PE in England: An exploratory study
Jaset Campbell EdD 2013 An investigation of the usage of active learning approaches to educate undergraduate theology students
Christopher Jarvis EdD 2013 Using pupil voice to investigate students' thoughts and opinions on cross-curricular language teaching
Iris Ferrier EdD 2012 A comparative study on theme positioned poetic devices in effective school essays in English and German
Michael Taylor EdD 2011 Developing little linguists? pupils' perceptions of modern languages in the primary school
Christine O’Leary PhD 2011 Developing autonomous language learners within the HE curriculum: a postmodern and social constructivist perspective
Yingying Chen MPhil 2011 Becoming an independent learner: a study of L2 motivation and learner differences among Taiwanese undergraduate ESF students
Mona Aljehani PhD 2010 Learning to teach languages: an exploratory study of student language teachers' beliefs and their relationships to learner and teacher-as-learner autonomy
Joseph Kimoga PhD 2006 Analysing the influence of ‘managerialism’ on the classroom language of Ugandan rural primary school teachers
Jane Dodman PhD 2005 A SLICE of life: towards transformation in an inner-city preparatory school in Kingston, Jamaica
My research and teaching are closely related. I have pursued a programme of research in two areas: learner and teacher autonomy (and related pedagogies such as e-learning, distance and blended learning, self-access learning, problem based collaborative learning etc), and linguistic diversity and plurilingual pedagogies in the context of globalisation and urban studies. My research is largely applied in nature, so it is disseminated widely not only through research reports and publications, but also materials aimed at advancing the professional field and influencing and developing policy and practice, as well as through conference presentations, workshops and consultancy. It is also largely interdisciplinary, drawing on fields as diverse as sociology, psychology, urban studies and human geography and, in particular in my teacher education research, relates to the teaching of different curriculum areas. My most recent publications and projects, for example, have drawn on a range of disciplines to explore space, place and autonomy in relation to linguistic diversity, and I am planning to develop participatory and activist approaches with teachers and communities to challenge the monolingual habitus and to explore the emergence of a plurilingual habitus in ‘interlingual’ urban spaces. I am enjoying a range of collaborations with colleagues across the University as well as at the Westminster International University in Tashkent on micro- and macro-level research into the distinctiveness of Westminster pedagogy.
Learner and Teacher Autonomy in Language Learning
I research ways in which learners can learn to have a voice in what they are learning, and how different educational contexts and spaces can support this. This encompasses a range of teaching and learning modes, from classroom-based to self-access and e-learning. I am particularly interested in the relationship between autonomy, motivation and identity and in metacognitive knowledge and beliefs about learning. I also research the implications for the teacher and the teacher´s own autonomy, including teacher-as-learner, action research and critical reflection, and I have carried out consultancy work with teams of teachers in many countries, including Chile, Colombia, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain and Turkey. For six years, I was the elected convener of the international AILA Research Network in Learner Autonomy in Language Learning under the auspices of AILA (Association Internationale pour la Linguistique Appliquée), and I have published widely in this field. My latest interest is in the relationships between space, place and autonomy, and in 2014 I organised a research symposium on this topic at the AILA World Conference in Brisbane, Australia. An edited book on this topic was published with Dr Garold Murray, Okayama University, Japan, in 2018.
Multilingualism and plurilingualism
I have a commitment to supporting and promoting linguistic diversity, and a particular research interest in multilingual policy and pedagogy in different contexts. I have carried out research in the field of urban education, focusing on ways in which learners' plurilingualism can be supported in order to benefit the individual as well as the community as a whole. My research into education for linguistic diversity encompasses areas such as community languages, complementary education, language planning, diversification, language awareness, English as an Additional Language and methodologies for less taught languages. I also argue that every teacher is a language teacher, and that teachers should draw on a student’s full linguistic repertoire to enable them to reach their potential. I work closely with the Council of Europe’s European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) on a range of projects in this field. I am now co-coordinating a major project as part of a cooperation between the European Commission and the ECML of the Council of Europe, which is supporting EU member states to develop inclusive practices in migration contexts (see Supporting Multilingual Classrooms). I am also interested in working with social/youth workers to build capacity in supporting communities of migrant, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds and worked as research lead on a European research project called Home away from Home, which included organisations in Croatia, Austria, Belgium, and Germany. Most recently I have begun to publish on the meaning of learner autonomy within the context of a globalised, multilingual society, exploring the concept of collective autonomy and thus bringing together my two main areas of interest.
Language Teacher Associations
I have a long history of working with subject associations and am former President and current Secretary General of the Fédération Internationale des Professeurs de Langues Vivantes (FIPLV), which is an NGO of both UNESCO and the Council of Europe and which represents hundreds of thousands of language teachers around the world. I continue to conduct research into the role of subject associations in member countries, focusing on ways in which they support teachers’ professional learning and represent teacher voice in policy. In 2015, together with FIPLV member association CASLT, I organised the FIPLV World Congress in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Founder and editor, Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, Routledge/Taylor and Francis (since I launched it in Spring 2007).
Member of the Editorial Boards of 10 academic journals: Asian Journal of Education and Training (2018-); International Journal of English Language and Literature Studies (2018-); Education Sciences (2017-); EL.LE Educazione Linguistica. Language Education, Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice, Italy (2011-); The Journal of Language Teaching and Research, China (2010-); Íkala Journal of Language and Culture, Colombia (2007-); PROFILE Journal, Universidad Nacional de Colombia (2006-); Language Learning Journal, UK (1999-); Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, Poland (2016-); APAMALL (Asia-Pacific Association of Multimedia-assisted Language Learning) Higher Education Journal of Language Learning Technologies, South Korea (2016-).
Member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the academic Journal of Linguistics and Language Teaching, Germany (2018-) and Supervisory Board of the academic journal The Journal of Language Teaching and Learning, Turkey (2010-).
Member of the Editorial Boards of two professional journals: Scuola e Lingue Moderne, Italy (2010-); SAALT Journal for Language Teaching/SAVTO Tydskrif vir Taalonderrig (South African Association for Language Teaching) (2002-).
Member of the editorial boards of four Italian book series: Biblioteca di Cultura (2014-); SAIL: Studi sull’Apprendimento e l’Insegnamento Linguistico (2012-); I libri di Babele (Utet) (2011-); Avamposti di glottodidattica (Guerra) (2011-).
Editor, Peter Lang book series, Foreign Language Teaching in Europe (2004-).
Examples of invited plenaries and keynote lectures
Pedagogy for autonomy in language education and beyond: Key shifts and interdisciplinary perspectives, ‘Interdisciplinarity and Languages’, conference organised by PTN (Polish Association of Modern Languages) to celebrate its 90th anniversary, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
The value of partnership in supporting multilingualism, ‘The Perfect Partnership – A community driven approach to Language and Heritage Learning’, conference organised by Shpresa and the Museum of London, held at The Museum of London, UK
Key shifts in the development of a pedagogy for autonomy in language education, ‘Advancing Language Education Research and Practice’, international conference organised by the Westminster International University in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Supporting Multilingual Classrooms: Developing a plurilingual mindset in super-diverse urban spaces, Inter-regional Conference on Languages, Castilla-León and Madrid regions, Madrid, Spain
Developing a pedagogy for autonomy for 21st century learners, ‘Motivation for English learners and teachers: Cooperation, autonomy, sustainability’, conference organised by the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile
Developing a plurilingual mindset in 21st century super-diverse urban spaces, ‘Teaching and learning languages in the 21st century’, FIPLV Nordic-Baltic Region Conference organised by the University of Vilnius and the Language Teachers’ Association of Lithuania (LKPA), held at the premises of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and the University of Vilnius, Vilnius, Lithuania.
Developing a pedagogy for autonomy for 21st century learners, 5th National Bi-Annual Symposium on Language Teacher Education and Development, organised by the National Association for Language Teacher Education and Development (NALTED), Shenyang Normal University, Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China.
Valuing our learners’ plurilingualism in linguistically super-diverse urban spaces, ‘Individual differences in second language learning and teaching II: The individual and the context’, organized by the State University of Applied Sciences, Konin, Adam Mickiewicz University, Kalisz, and University of Opole, held in Konin, Poland.
Opportunity and innovation in language learning and teaching in UK higher education, ‘The future of language learning and teaching in Higher Education in the UK and beyond: opportunities and challenges’, 19th Annual AULC (Association of University Language Centres in the UK and Ireland) Conference, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield.
Challenging the monolingual habitus in linguistically super-diverse urban spaces, ‘Bridging Borders, Creating Spaces: Negotiating Multicultural Identities and Belongings among Migrant Communities in Global London’, HOMELandS Conference, University of Westminster, London, UK.
Challenging the monolingual habitus in super-diverse urban spaces, ‘Multilingualism as a resource: Bringing home languages to the fore’, organised by the University of New South Wales, Australia.
Challenging the monolingual habitus in linguistically diverse spaces, ‘Migration and Language Education’, Conference organised by the Greek Applied Linguistics Association (GALA), Thessaloniki, Greece.
Building bridges for language learning and teaching, ‘Learning and teaching languages: Creating bridges to the future’, 1st FIPLV East European Region regional conference, organised by BETA-IATEFL, Konstantin Preslavsky University of Shumen, Varna, Bulgaria.
Critical enquiry for learner and teacher empowerment, ‘Diasporic identities’, Conference organised by Open World Research Initiative (Language Acts and Worldmaking), King’s College London.
The world in the city: Developing policy and practice in multilingual schools and classrooms, ‘MFL Conference: Making the case for languages in multicultural contexts’, Conference organised by Network for Languages London. University of Westminster, London, UK
Professional networks as empowering tools for enhancing learning and teaching and promoting multilingualism, ‘The language teacher and teaching at a crossroads’, Conference organised by EVÕL, The Estonian Association of Language Teachers (on behalf of the FIPLV Nordic-Baltic Region), Tallinn, Estonia
Developing lifelong language learners through learner engagement and autonomy, ACTFL (American Council for Teachers of Foreign Languages) Annual Convention and World Languages Expo. Boston, Mass: USA
Education for linguistic superdiversity in the 21st century: Pedagogical shifts and professional networks, ‘Languages and cultures in 21st century transnationality’, Conference organised by Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK
Languages Live! Developing coherent policy and practice to celebrate and nurture multilingualism for the benefit of all, 24th BETA-IATEFL Annual International Conference ‘Celebrating variety: making the most of your teaching and learning context’, University of National and World Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria
Celebrating our multilingualism: European perspectives on languages in education, ‘Deep languages education, policy and practices’, Conference organised by the International Network on Language Education Policy Studies, University of Southern Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Exploring space, place and autonomy for 21st century learning: Empowering learners and teachers to deal with change, ‘New learners, new needs…better approaches’, Conference organised by GRETA, the association for English teachers in Andalucia, University of Granada, Spain
Towards a pedagogy for autonomy: Exploring the relationships between learner and teacher autonomy, 23rd BETA-IATEFL Annual International Conference ‘The English language classroom: Can research meet practice?’, South-West University, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria
Exploring the relationships between learner and teacher autonomy in a pedagogy for autonomy, ‘Autonomy in language learning and teaching: Developing independence inside and outside the classroom’, Conference organised by State School of Higher Professional Education in Konin and Adam Mickiewicz University, Kalisz, Poland
Perspectives on 21st century English language learners, 21st Annual Convention of TESOL Macedonia-Thrace ‘Teach and seek’. Thessaloniki, Greece
Shifting paradigms: Wanderings through language policy in England since 2000, INLEPS 2013 International Seminar ‘Global perspectives in language education policy’, University of Granada, Spain
Innovation in the languages curriculum for the 21st century: Curriculum, policy and pedagogy, ECML LACS Workshop ‘Enhancing language teaching materials and policy’, Hamrun, Malta
Influencing language policy: the role of language teacher associations in policy development, Shanghai International Seminar on Language Education Policy: Global perspectives and local practice, Shanghai International Studies University (in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin – Madison), Shanghai, China
Developing learning learners, Languages without borders 2013, Conference of the Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers, Winnipeg, Canada
Catering for individual needs in the context of the 21st century classroom, 2nd ELT Malta Conference entitled ‘Inspiring Teachers’. Organised by the EFL Monitoring Board, Ministry for Education and Employment, Malta
Connecting to learning: listening to learners’ voices, 22nd Bulgarian English Teachers’ Association and IATEFL International Conference entitled ‘Openness and connectedness: Exploring the landscape of English language teaching in the modern world’, Varna, Bulgaria
Developing learner autonomy to engage language learners, KieliPeda 2013 Conference, University of Jyväskyla, Finland
Developing learning learners, International ELT conference entitled ‘CEFR: from a TEACHing to a LEARNing curriculum’, Beykent University, Istanbul, Turkey
Transition from primary to secondary language learning: Progression, autonomy, motivation, Transitions in modern languages conference, Aston Business School, Birmingham
Engaging learners in language learning: learner motivation, learner voice, learner autonomy, atb8 Conference, York
Promoting multilingualism in schools: issues from research and practice, FIPLV World Congress, Helsinki, Finland
Developing plurilingualism in schools, Romanian launch of the Language Rich Europe Project, British Council, Bucharest, Romania
Transition from primary to secondary language learning: Progression, differentiation, motivation, National Conference on Early language learning, Norwegian National Centre for Foreign Languages in Education, Oslo, Norway
For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.