Brief outline of PhD research My PhD was an ethnographic research on inclusion and Modern Foreign Language (MFL) learning and was conducted in a middle school in England. With a focus on pupils identified with Special Educational Needs (SEN), my research explored the experiences and perceptions of pupils, teachers and parents as they battle through the foreign language learning process. My framework drew on Pierre Bourdieu’s social constructs and Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities approach as theoretical tools to examine the ‘inclusive’ MFL classroom. The findings highlight disjunction between policy and practice and suggest that education policies need to be stretched beyond rhetoric to take account of the reality that is experienced in the classroom.
Why did you choose to study for your PhD in the School of Languages and Social Sciences? A love of languages, travel and culture led me to study applied linguistics and to become a teacher of Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), History and Food Technology. As my passion towards my subjects grew, I became head of MFL and head of History in a middle School. A few years ago, as the coordinator of 2 subjects, I wanted to find out the reasons some students struggle in the language classroom.
What did you find most useful about the PhD programme? Being able to reach my supervisors and the research manager via email or skype was very useful for me because being an off-campus student in a full time employment out of the university’s catchment area, I was understandably unable to visit the campus as often as I would have wanted to. However, I did not miss out on much thanks to the assistance I received from the research manager and my supervisors.