New Book Calls for A Radical Shift in Transforming Language Teaching and Learning

Pictured recently at the launch of the new book ‘Transforming Language Teaching and Learning’ are pictured l-r: Professor Gerry Mac Ruairc, School of Education, NUI Galway, author of the book, Dr Patrick Farren, NUI Galway, and Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway. Photo: Aengus McMahon
Jan 15 2019 Posted: 14:32 GMT

A new book Transforming Language Teaching and Learning by Dr Patrick Farren in the School of Education at NUI Galway, calls for a radical shift in how we understand and approach language teaching, learning, and assessment in schools.

Dr Farren carried out three studies in collaboration with educators and student-teachers at NUI Galway, King’s College London, Boston College, MA, and neighbouring post-primary schools.

Dr Farren, says: “The studies examine modern foreign language teaching and learning from an autonomous language teaching and learning perspective.  Language is understood not only in terms of competence but as language in use, which is an action-oriented process. The classroom is understood as a space in which learners are immersed in the target language. The studies examine the impact of social interaction linked to target language use in context, and of critical reflection in which learners plan, monitor, and self-assess. Assessment for learning strategies and use of a portfolio are seen to support learners in developing the capacity to accept responsibility for their language learning.”

Dr Farren added: “Engaged learning is seen to enhance autonomous language teaching and learning by integrating ‘new’ literacies such as, critical, digital and media literacies, and intercultural literacy, with the development of the traditional and basic literacies of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It suggests that a more integrated, whole school approach to language teaching and learning would support language learners in making connections across languages and cultures, and by implication, support the development of a more cohesive society. Overall, it shows how teachers can develop a more encompassing professional identity as research practitioners and leaders with the capacity to make evidence informed decisions based on moral values.”

A native of Buncrana in County Donegal, Dr Farren has taught and carried out research in countries including the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Finland, Libya, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the US. 

The book includes interviews with international experts, Dr Paul Black on assessment, and Maria Brisk on addressing the needs of English language learners.  Writing in the Foreword to the book, Dr Jane Jones, Head of Modern Foreign Language Teacher Education, King’s College London, refers to how teachers in the studies are understood as “creators and not just deliverers of knowledge”, and how the book is “a liberating account of what happens when student-teachers and teacher educators not only understand the moral purpose of teaching but inhabit a space in which conditions are created for a transformative pedagogy to flourish”. The principles of language empowerment, critical consciousness, interdependence, and moral values are at the centre of participants’ interpretations of ‘transformative pedagogy’ in the book. 

The book will be of interest to teacher educators, parents, student-teachers, researchers, students in any sector of education, language teachers and parents of children taking the new junior cycle programme, education bodies, as well as the general reader with an interest in language learning and education.  

The book is published by Peter Lang International, and is available online from the publisher and from



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