Dr Judith Hanks

Dr Judith Hanks


I have worked as a language teacher, lecturer and teacher educator in Italy, China, Singapore, and the UK since 1987, and I have been centrally involved in Exploratory Practice (a form of fully inclusive practitioner research) since 1997. I joined the University of Leeds, Language Centre, in 1999, moving to the School of Education in 2013, where I have been Head of Undergraduate area, and Academic Group Leader for Language Education. I combine my work in Practitioner Research, CPD and Mentoring in EAP, ELT and TESOL with my background in Applied Linguistics, Intercultural Studies and Language Teacher Education.

My interests include understanding the ethical dilemmas in the nexus of research, scholarship and pedagogy, most notably in Exploratory Practice. This co-produced research involves puzzling, then working multimodally to understand cultural/intercultural issues of identity, agency and trust that arise when learners and teachers engage in researching their pedagogic practices. Using the Exploratory Practice framework, I am currently working to investigate practitioner perceptions of quality of life, wellbeing, and burnout in learning, teaching and teacher education. 

I am convenor of the AILA Fully Inclusive Practitioner Research Network. Spanning 5 continents and involving researchers, practitioners and practitioner-researchers co-producing their work, the FIPR network aims to address epistemological and pedagogical challenges for Applied Linguistics and Language Education in the 21st Century (see https://www.fullyinclusivepr.com/ )

These rich areas for research and pedagogy are woven into my work as Deputy Director of the Education, Childhood and Youth Pathway of the White Rose Doctoral Training Programme, and my work as Deputy Chair of the AREA Faculty Research Ethics Committee.

My main publications include:


Articles and accompanying videos

  • Hanks, J. (2020) Co-production and multimodality: learners as co-researchers exploring practice. Educational Action Research https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09650792.2020.1812417
  • Hanks, J. (2019). From research-as practice to exploratory practice-as-research in language teaching and beyond. Language Teaching, 52(2) pp.143-187. State-of-the-art article https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444819000016
  • Hanks, J. (2019). Identity and trust: Issues raised when practitioners engage in researching practice. The European Journal of Applied Linguistics and TEFL, 8(2) pp.3-22 
  • Hanks, J. (2018). Supporting language teachers as they engage in research. ETAS Special Supplement Research Literacy Part 3: Supporting teacher research in English language teaching, 35(3) pp.48-50
  • Hanks, J. (2017). Integrating Research and Pedagogy: An Exploratory Practice approach. System 68, pp.38-49. [You can watch a video interview about the article here: http://www.tesolacademic.org/researchpapers.htm or here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqZzrAL_pOg&feature=youtu.be ]
  • Hanks, J. (2016). What might research AS practice look like? In K. Dikilitas, M. Wyatt, J. Hanks & D. Bullock (Eds.), Teachers Engaging in Research (pp. 19-30). Faversham: IATEFL.
  • Wyatt, M., Burns, A. & Hanks, J. (2016). Teacher/practitioner research: Reflections on an online discussion. TESL-EJ, 20(1), pp. 1-22. Click here: http://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/volume20/ej77/ej77int/ 
  • Hanks, J. (2015). 'Education is not just teaching': learner thoughts on Exploratory Practice. ELT Journal, 69(2), (pp. 117-128). [This was ELTJ Editor’s Choice, April 2015) you can watch the accompanying video here: https://academic.oup.com/eltj/pages/editors_choice_videos ]
  • Hanks, J. (2015). Language teachers making sense of Exploratory Practice. Language Teaching Research, 19(5), (pp. 612-633).
  • Hanks, J. (2013) Exploratory Practice in English for Academic Purposes: Puzzling over principles and practices (Unpublished PhD Thesis) – Shortlisted for the 2014 International Christopher Brumfit Thesis Award.

More Videos and podcasts:

Dr Judith Hanks features on podcast discussing Exploratory Practice research | School of Education | University of Leeds


  • Deputy Chair, AREA Faculty Research Ethics Committee
  • Deputy Director of ECY Pathway, White Rose Doctoral Training Programme (WRDTP)
  • Programme Leader of MATESOL Teacher Education

Research interests

My research interests lie in Language Teacher Education and Applied Linguistics, with particular emphasis on Co-production through Exploratory Practice – a form of fully inclusive practitioner research which involves teachers and learners investigating their own experiences of learning and teaching. I focus on the ethical dilemmas raised when researching pedagogy; identifying and understanding puzzling issues in education; and exploring how notions of culture affect teacher/learner identities and agency.

My British Council ELTRA project ‘Sticky Objects' and pathways to well-being and resilience: teacher understandings of and practices in positive psychology in their classrooms  brought together Exploratory Practice, positive psychology and the emotional dimensions of learning and teaching in EAP as a way of investigating teacher well-being (see https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/%E2%80%98sticky-objects%E2%80%99-pathways-well-being-resilience-teacher-understandings-practices-positive). I am currently working as PI on an ESRC-IAA funded project Well-being and burnout in teaching: unpacking the causes and tackling the problems to embed impact in researching issues around teacher well-being in schools in the UK (see https://leedsteacherwellbeing.leeds.ac.uk/ )

My work theorises the notion of research-as-practice, which I re-conceptualise as exploratory practice-as-research. As practitioners (teachers, learners, researchers) puzzle seriously about their practice, I work collaboratively for deep understanding(s) as a way of continuing professional development and enhancing well-being and quality of life. This raises questions about trust and agency as teachers, learners and researchers overcome boundaries constraining who does what in researching Language Education and Applied Linguistics. 

I am well-known internationally as an independent researcher dedicated to language learning/teaching, practitioner research, and teacher education. I regularly give talks, presentations and workshops at conferences both nationally and internationally (e.g. AERA, San Antonio, USA, 2017; BERA, Leeds, 2016; AILA, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2017; IATEFL, Brighton, UK, 2018). 

My international Keynotes and Plenaries include: Estonia (Tartu, 2015), Japan (Kobe 2007; JALT, Nagoya 2013; JACET Kyoto & Sendai, 2018), Malta (2019); Portugal (Lisbon, 2010), Thailand (Bangkok, 2016) and Turkey (Bolu, 2013; Izmir, 2015; Istanbul, 2016).

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD
  • MA in Applied Linguistics & ELT
  • RSA CELTA Teacher Trainer
  • RSA Diploma & RSA CTEFLA
  • BA (Hons) in English & American Literature

Professional memberships

  • IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language)
  • BALEAP (British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes)
  • BAAL (British Association of Applied Linguists)
  • AILA (Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée)
  • SFHEA (Senior Fellow of Higher Education Academy)

Student education

I currently lead the MA TESOL & Teacher Education. In the past I have led the MA TESOL (China) and the BA in English, Language & Education, and in 2017, I led a team to design the BA TESOL. I enjoy teaching both Undergraduate and Postgraduate students and I lead modules such as Teacher Education in TESOL; Contexts and Approaches in TESOL; Language, Learners and Society. In the past I have led Teaching Oral and Written Skills in TESOL; Research Approaches in Education; The Practice of English Language Teaching; as well as modules on the MA in Professional Language and Intercultural Studies. I also supervise UG Final Year Projects and MA Dissertation students with pleasure.

I supervise 9 doctoral students, and particularly welcome applications in the areas of Language Teacher Education, Fully Inclusive Practitioner Research and Exploratory Practice, with a particular focus on (i)  integrating research and pedagogy in language classrooms, (ii) intercultural issues in language teacher education and continuing professional development, (iii) intercultural issues in EAP and/or TESOL, (iv) notions of agency, identity and trust in language education, practitioner research and/or language teacher education, (v) burnout, well-being, and quality of life in language education, teacher education and CPD.

My doctoral students work in the following areas:

  • A phenomenological study of ‘third culture kids’ (Netta Chalermpalanupap – in progress)
  • Contextual support for sustainable professional development: a study of Chinese senior high school EFL teachers (Ronggan Zhang – in progress)
  • Effects of CPD on Sri Lankan teachers’ classroom practices (Deepa Ellepola – in progress)
  • Experiential learning and reflective practices in healthcare in the UK (Julie Jackson – in progress)
  • Interculturality in teaching and learning English in Algeria (Souad Boumechaal – in progress)
  • Leadership practices of senior teachers, assistant heads, and head teachers in Oman (Anwar Al Balushi – in progress)
  • Leadership training and development needs of school principals in Sri Lanka (Sasheeka Karunanayake – in progress)
  • The Study Year Abroad experience – affective challenges and coping strategies of UK undergraduates in Italy (Giorgia Faraoni – in progress)
  • Vocabulary learning and teaching strategies and the mental lexicon (Nouf Alshareef - in progress)
  • Teacher perceptions of research for professional development in Saudi Arabia (Hamdan Alzahrani – successfully completed 2020)
  • Practitioner research and its affordances for motivation and professional development in Indonesia (Mukrim Thamrin – successfully completed 2019)
  • Curriculum change in language teacher education in Chile (Loreto Aliaga Salas – successfully completed 2018)
  • Professional development of teachers of Dutch as a second language (Joke Drikonningen – successfully completed 2018)
  • Pre-service EFL teacher-learning during the practicum in Turkey (Melike Bulut – successfully completed 2017)
  • Literacy practices of bilingual young learners learning Korean and Roman alphabets (Kyung Min – successfully completed 2016)

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Curriculum, Pedagogy and Policy
  • Centre for Language Education
  • ICY: Inclusion, Childhood & Youth Research Centre

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>