Helen R. Robinson


My background is in language learning, teaching and translating. Having studied French at the University of Southampton for my first degree, I moved on to Leeds to do my PGCE in Modern Foreign Languages (French with German subsidiary). I now live in Lincolnshire with my husband, where we met as secondary school teachers - many moons ago. There I taught French to A level, German to GCSE level and Spanish to sixth form beginners before completing a part-time masters in French-English translation via distance learning while our family was growing up. During this time, I developed a deeper passion for what enables people and communities with different languages to interconnect, and I majored in the challenges of the translation of humour for my masters’ dissertation. I then worked as a lecturer of French language, business and translation studies in a university business school language centre for a number of years, diversifying into ESOL in 2012 to support ESOL students with their studies to BA level. I have worked with post-baccalauréat level French summer-school students preparing for entrance to French higher universities (grandes-écoles), teaching pronunciation and oral presentation skills, and in 2014 I returned to the same state comprehensive school where my career began, this time as the EAL coordinator, supporting students whose first language was not English with their access to the British school curriculum and Cambridge English examinations. Finally, in October 2020, I was able to commit to my long-term plan to begin a full-time PhD at Leeds School of Education, coming full-circle. 

Research interests

I am fascinated, and at times bewildered, by the ways in which we welcome, perceive and react to those who are different from ourselves. I am keenly interested in how host countries welcome forced migrants, more specifically, the extent to which language learning programmes in rural areas (ranging from structured, formal classes to informal, local community initiatives and policy decisions) support refugees in ensuring a secure future for their families, enhancing their settlement processes and building a cohesive network of meaningful and supportive contacts. In the light of the Coronavirus pandemic, I have had to relocate my intended research area from France to the UK, but I am confident that this research is more timely than ever. The migrant settlement situation across Europe and beyond is at a critical stage and I am keen to explore how diverse educational approaches to language learning might inform others and facilitate successful, long-term settlement in more neglected rural areas.


  • CELTA (Nottingham New College)
  • MA Translation (UWE Bristol)
  • PGCE MFL (University of Leeds School of Education)
  • BA Hons French (University of Southampton)