Aicha Al Faraj


I did my BA in English Language and Literature at Kuwait University and started teaching ESP in 2009. In order to develop my teaching knowledge and skills, I did an MA in Applied Linguistics with TESOL (as well as the CELTA) at the University of Sheffield and an MA in Teaching English for Academic and Professional Purposes at the University of Leeds. Between studies, I continued to teach ESP at higher educational institutes and worked as a freelance copywriter, translator and language trainer in Kuwait.

Motivation to undertake PhD

After undertaking research during my MA studies, I realized how much the process and findings changed my teaching skills and views. I have become more flexible and accommodating as an ESP teacher and found that my students’ learning experience helped develop my teaching in many different ways. Throughout my teaching experience, I had a lot of questions that I wanted to find answers to, and that motivated me to consider a bigger research project.

On a personal level, I am constantly aware of having to set an example for my two daughters and strike a balance between my parenting and my career. Completing a PhD will allow my daughters to have a mom they can be proud of and enable me to have more time with them. I am hoping they will realize that they’ve empowered me throughout this journey as they grow up. I also hope any moms considering a PhD will come across this and realize that the university is always keen on accommodating our roles as parents.

Future plans

Once my PhD is completed, I will go back to teaching ESP in Kuwait and hopefully continue research in my field. While I love my academic career, I also love being in the language business and will continue to develop that as well.

Research interests

My research interests revolve around a variety of topics in ESP contexts. My current focus is on teacher and learner cognition in relation to academic and professional literacies.

Research synopsis

The study explores ESP teachers’ and learners’ perceptions of academic literacies and which teacher knowledge and practices are important to support effective literacy teaching and acquisition. The extent to which the teachers’ perceptions influence their classroom practices as well as the challenges teachers and learners encounter in teaching and learning  academic literacies will also be investigated.

Passion for research in ESP

Teaching in and researching ESP contexts is my passion because I feel like I am as much a student as my students. Reflecting on my teaching is never enough, and I started looking towards my students for knowledge about their fields and their needs. They have made me a better teacher, and researching ways ESP teaching can be improved for both teachers and students is my way of giving back.


  • BA English Language & Literature
  • MA Applied Linguistics with TESOL
  • MA Teaching English for Academic & Professional Purposes