22 December, 2021, 16:00-17:00 (online)

Seminar Series: Journeys to language teaching in Higher Education in the UK

Language teachers’ professional identities are shaped and enriched by their experiences of diaspora. Their teaching trajectories mix their multiple worlds on hand enabling them to remake their personal and professional selves. This presentation examines experienced higher education language teachers’ professional journeys from their initial experiences in their home countries to the full development of their careers in the UK. Our study is based on language teachers’ profiles captured via a questionnaire and their textual accounts of those journeys using a narrative framework that invited them to engage in backward, inward and outward reflection (Bukor, 2012). Their stories were analysed using a thematic networks approach (Attride-Stirling, 2001) that revealed both individual and common patterns in the development of their professional identities. Two global themes highlight the significance of diaspora and the teaching environments for their evolving professional identities. The empirical study reported in this presentation was part of the research conducted by the Diasporic Identities and the Politics of Language Teaching strand of the Language Acts and Worldmaking project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK.

Inma Álvarez is Director of Postgraduate Research Studies in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies at the Open University. She has over 30 years' experience teaching undergraduates and postgraduates in Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences subjects at institutions in the USA, UK and Spain. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in recognition of her long teaching career in higher education. She has been responsible for the development of numerous innovative online/offline learning resources for both face to face and distance learners and has an extensive experience in in-service undergraduate teacher development. Her research is on the links between the performance of language(s) and culture(s) and the arts in different contexts and practices.

Mara Fuertes Gutiérrez is Senior Lecturer and the Head of Spanish at the Open University. Over her career, Mara has conducted extensive research in the areas of Spanish Language Teaching, Historiography of Linguistics, Linguistic Typology and Sociolinguistics. Currently, she is co-leading the Diasporic identities and Politics of Language Teaching strand of the AHRC-funded Language Acts and Worldmaking project. She is the Vice-president of the International Association for the Teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language Teaching (ASELE) and the Secretary of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland (AHGBI). She is particularly interested in exploring the relationship between theoretical and applied linguistics, investigating the interpretation and implementation of linguistic theories into the language classroom. In connection to this, she researches how language teachers’ identities, background and cognition impact on their practices.