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ESOL Research Community event: ESOL practitioners as researchers

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We are delighted to promote this event on behalf of the ESOL Research Community:

  • Date: Thursday 25th April 2024
  • Time: 4-5.30pm
  • Location: Online via Teams

This group is led by Cathy Clarkson and Kathryn Sidaway.

ESOL practitioners as researchers

We are pleased to host three talks where the presenters will share their research journeys: what inspires them, how they overcome challenges and what they have learnt as ESOL practitioners engaging in research. Each talk will last 10 minutes with 5 minutes for questions, then the final 30 minutes will be for more general discussions on the issues raised by the presenters.

PRESENTATION 1: Juana Simpson: From ESOL teacher to engaged practitioner-researcher in community English Language Teaching: reflecting on benefits, exposure, and practice development.

Twenty-three years after moving to NI as a French migrant and a change of career, I qualified with a CELTA in 2011. I went on teaching ESOL in private language learning, in FE and EAP until 2022 (including online throughout the COVID pandemic). At the same time, I completed a three-year part-time MScTESOL at Queen’s University Belfast in 2021. My thesis explored the perceptions of six ESOL and EAP teachers’ move and adaptability, including constraints and benefits, to online teaching at the onset of the COVID pandemic in Northern Ireland.

In 2022, after re-assessing my teaching practice, I decided to focus on English Language Teaching in the community and I currently teach ESOL in a women’s community centre and EAL in a secondary school in Belfast. My interest now underpins learners’ voices and narratives through identities and multilingualism and advocates equitable access to education.

PRESENTATION 2: Paul Sceeny: “I have to know. I have to understand how to do this!” Exploring ESOL teachers’ experiences in Ireland through the lens of the pandemic, whilst reflecting on my own journey from awarding organisation Manager/Advisor to freelancer.

After nearly 20 years supporting ESOL teachers delivering ESOL qualifications, I took a leap of faith and enrolled on a full-time MEd at Maynooth University. Despite relocating to Derry a decade earlier, most of my work with City & Guilds was within England and I was conscious I hadn’t as detailed or nuanced an understanding of ESOL contexts and provision across the island of Ireland.

My thesis explored the experiences of eight ESOL tutors during the pandemic. As well as wanting to understand how they had adapted to lockdown and remote teaching, I wanted to learn more about their work environments and perceptions of ESOL within Ireland’s Further Education and Training (FET) landscape.

Having completed that research, I’m now positioning myself as a research-curious freelancer who works with ESOL educators and organisations throughout the islands of Ireland and Britain.

PRESENTATION 3: Sundus Alzouebi: From my learners' questions raised in ESOL classes to current grapplings and beyond: the story of an ESOL teacher’s PhD journey exploring intercultural mentoring in ELT.

My PhD study explores the challenges and successes experienced by Arab ESOL learners in the UK. This qualitative research examines how such learners interpret and evaluate experiences of cultural diversity and how being interculturally mentored by a bilingual researcher can support them in advancing their English, developing their intercultural capabilities and building relational connections. In this presentation, I share my inspiration to explore this topic, a reflection on my methods and a hopeful look to the influence my research could have on policy and practice.

To register for this event, please complete this form - you will need to copy and paste this link into your browser:


For more information on the ESOL Research Community events, please see their Padlet (again - you will need to copy and paste this link into your browser): https://padlet.com/kathrynsidaway/your-esol-research-community-ft9b25fqqf15m1xt

Request further information
  • Date(s): 25 April 2024 to 25 April 2024
  • Time: 16:00 - 17:30
  • Price: FREE
  • Location: ONLINE - VIA TEAMS
  • Main contact: Cathy Clarkson, School Education and Professional I Development University of Huddersfield
  • Email: cathy.clarkson2@hud.ac.uk

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