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 also hold a Senate Award for Sustained Excellence in Learning and teaching in Higher Education. In addition, I am 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, I co-founded the international journal, Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching (published by Taylor and Francis), which I continue to edit.
My research and teaching are closely related. I have pursued a programme of research in two areas: critical 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 lead on the development of education research across the University as well as co-leading HOMELandS, the University's research hub on migration research. I also lead on the Westminster Learning Communities work across the University and am enjoying a range of other collaborations with colleagues across the University as well as at the Westminster International University in Tashkent on micro- and macro-level research into a range of pedagogic issues.
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. I am also co-coordinator of the Westminster Learning Community focusing on The Multilingual University.
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 co-editor, Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, Routledge/Taylor and Francis (since I launched it with Hayo Reinders in Spring 2007).
Member of the Editorial Boards of 12 academic journals: Verbum, Lithuania (2020-); Journal of Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities, Pakistan (2020-); Asian Journal of Education and Training, USA (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
Spaces of hope for a linguistically inclusive society, ‘The value of languages in a multilingual world’, conference organised by the Multilingualism Research Centre, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
Autonomy in language education: The development of a field of research and practice, ‘Language - Communication – Society: Current challenges and beyond’, 14th international conference of LATEUM, Linguistic Association of Teachers of English at Moscow State University, Russia
Building bridges to cross borders, ‘Communication across borders: Teaching, learning and speaking the languages of the world’, 6th international conference on foreign language teaching, Saarbrücken, Germany
Supporting second language learning in multilingual classrooms by valuing learners' plurilingualism, ‘Dansk som andetsprog’, conference organised by the Danish National Centre for Foreign Languages (Det Nationale Center for Fremmedsprog), Denmark
Creative curriculum and pedagogies for creative learning in languages education, Språkdagkonferanse 2020 (online) organised in celebration of the European Day of Languages by the Norwegian National Centre for English and Foreign Languages in Education (Nasjonalt senter for engelsk og fremmedspråk i opplæringen), Norway
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