Loreto Aliaga Salas

Loreto Aliaga Salas

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a teacher of English from Chile. I have taught in secondary schools, adult education, pre-service and in-service teacher education. I obtained my English teaching degree at Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación in 2007. In 2011, I obtained my MA in TEFL at the same university.

My last employment was as an academic coordinator and language teacher in a pre-service English language teaching programme in Santiago. I was also involved in teaching and supporting in-service teachers in a secondary school.

What motivated you to undertake your PhD at Leeds?

After finishing my MA degree, I worked in pre-service teacher education at two different universities. I didn’t really have any knowledge to teach future teachers, and I felt the need to be better prepared to be a teacher educator. 

I chose the School of Education at The University of Leeds because of its well-known background in supporting language teacher educators. My supervisors had well-established links with Chile, which helped developing and informing my research. Coming to Leeds has allowed me to learn about teacher education, not only in theoretical but also practical ways.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

Being a teacher educator is a great responsibility, since the impact that one’s practices has on others is exponentially higher. I am passionate about my research area as I hope it will not only have an impact on the particular programme being researched but also having a deeper understanding of processes of educational change in similar contexts. 

Tell us about your research topic.

My research explores teacher educators’ cognitions, ie “what language teachers think, know and believe, and of its relationship to teachers’ classroom practices” (Borg 2015, p.1) in the context of curriculum change in a pre-service English language teaching programme in Chile.

In this context, my research considers all the actors involved in this change project: teacher educators, as enactors; programme staff, as initiators; and student teachers, as receivers, and future enablers of change. I observed teacher educators, and I interviewed staff, teacher educators and student teachers to understand the different perspectives of the project. 

My overarching aim is to understand a broader view of the programme implementation by taking all the participants’ viewpoints into consideration to reflect on current stage of implementation. Additionally, I seek to inform the future directions of the programme and to advise any other teacher education programme contemplating curriculum change anywhere in the world.

How has your experience been so far?

I have thoroughly enjoyed being a full-time student after working full-time for a few years. I have taken advantage of many opportunities offered by the School of Education and the University. Since my first year, I have worked as a research assistant in various projects, eg REACH, Narnia Virtues, and CLARA (University of Oxford/ University of Chile).

What do you think of the facilities?

The facilities for teaching, learning, and researching at the School of Education and the University are outstanding. The School of Education offers individual computer desks for full-time PhD students with a locker, a desk drawer, and book shelves. The university has five comprehensive libraries, and access to a large number of journals and reports. You can also request books from other libraries, and access other UK university libraries through the Sconul access scheme.

How would you describe the research environment in the School?

I have really enjoyed research-led teaching and practices. I have learned to inform my own practices by research, and promote, disseminate and encourage research among my colleagues and students. The university offers extensive support to conduct research in an ethical manner from day one, and offers wide and constructive feedback to early career researchers, from the supervisors and other training courses led by the Staff and Departmental Development Unit (SDDU). 

Do you take part in any activities outside of your study?

I have been an international student ambassador with the International office for three years. I have participated in two societies: STAR – Student Action for Refugees, and HOMED. I have also got involved with other groups outside the university: Couchsurfing, Meetup, and Internations to meet other professionals and people outside the university world. 

What do you like to do outside of studying?

I enjoy running. I have been going on regular Parkruns around Woodhouse Moor every Saturday. I also enjoy trekking, baking, cycling, and knitting. I go to gigs regularly at the O2 Leeds Academy, Leeds First Arena and Brudenell Social Club.  I also enjoy going to a Book Club once a month with other professionals outside the University. I have been titled an honorary Yorkshire lass for my Yorkshire puddings, and I am very proud of it!

What do you think of Leeds as a city?

Leeds is a fascinating city. There are so many things to do. There are always things going on; I love the Yorkshire identity and spirit of Leeds, and the centrality that living in Leeds offers. It is a very student-friendly city, with discounts everywhere. People in the north are very friendly.

What would you say to someone considering a research degree?

I would indeed encourage anyone to pursue a research degree at the School of Education. There are many professional developing opportunities to support the PhD journey. Both the academic and administrative staff are always there to make our PhD lives more bearable. 

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to continue teaching in pre-service and in-service teacher education as well as supporting processes of innovation and change in English language teaching. I would like to work with and for school language teachers to promote teacher-led research, inform teacher education policies, and my own research and practice.

Similarly, I am interested in contributing to narrow the gap between research and teacher classroom practices since I am a co-founder of the first Chilean network of researchers in English Language Teaching - ELT

As a result of my PhD I have made some small contributions:

  • ALIAGA, L. (Forthcoming). Teachers and students’ tales: living through change in teacher education. In IATEFL 2017 Glasgow conference selections. Faversham: IATEFL.
  •  ALIAGA, L. (Forthcoming). Mentoring teachers: An Interview with Angi Malderez. In Bellaterra Journal of Languages. Barcelona: Spain.
  • ALIAGA, L. (2017). Using visual representations to reflect on research: Exploring innovative formats for research dissemination. ELT Research. February 2017(32), pp.15-17.
  • Aliaga-Salas, L. (2017). Teacher educators’ voices on undergraduate TEFL curriculum innovation in Chile (T. Pattison, Ed.). In IATEFL 2016 Birmingham conference selections (pp. 51-53). Faversham: IATEFL.
  • ALIAGA, L. (2015). Creencias y prácticas de formadores de profesores de inglés: Un estudio de caso en innovación curricular. in “Saberes para Chile. Memorias de la II Jornada Académica de Investigadores Chilenos en Europa”. (pp. 183-198) Madrid: Punto Rojo
  • ALIAGA, L., INOSTROZA, M.J., REBOLLEDO, P., ROMERO, G., and TABALI, P. (2015). RICELT: Creating a research community in Chilean ELT. ELT RESEARCH. January 2015(30), pp.34-35.
  • ALIAGA, L. (2014). Exploring English Language Teaching in Pre-service TEFL Education in Chile. In WAGEMANN, E., et.al. (Eds.), ChileGlobal Seminars UK (pp. 74-75). London: ChileGlobal Seminars UK. 
  • ALIAGA. L. (2007) ¿Qué harías si...? Revista Acti/ España: Actividades para la clase de Español, 10, 52-53. Consejería de Educación y Cultura en el Reino Unido, Education and culture ministry, Spain. United Kingdom.