Counter-Narratives in Language Education Research

Join us for this Centre for Language Education Research and Language@Leeds Conversation with Dr Nelson Flores, University of Pennsylvania and Dr Giovanna Fassetta, University of Glasgow.

There will be contributions from University of Leeds colleagues: Dr Daniel Fobi, Dr Kate Spowage and Rumana Hossain. The speakers’ presentations in diverse areas of language education inquiry will lead to a more general reflection. Join us as we discuss:

  • what are the dominant narratives of language (and) education in our respective contexts and domains of inquiry?
  • which/whose stories are not included in them and why do they need to be?
  • how does our research need to change to make space for the multiple, complex and often competing counter-narratives?

Joining details

The event will be held on Zoom. You can access the event via the link below:

Zoom registration link:

For more information about the event, contact the organisers Professor Maggie Kubanyiova and Dr Julia Snell. For any administrative queries, please contact

The event will include live BSL (British Sign Language) interpreting for people with hearing difficulties.


Nelson Flores, University of Pennsylvania

Title: Toward a Raciolinguistic Genealogical Perspective on Language Education Policy

Abstract: This presentation proposes raciolinguistic genealogy as a methodological approach to the study of language education. It briefly defines three components of this approach: 1) a genealogical stance that brings attention to the discursive construction of race within the context of European colonialism; 2) a materialist framing of white supremacy that focuses on the material inequities made possible by multiple generations of racial oppression; and 3) a raciolinguistic perspective that examines the role of language ideologies in the production of race and the justification of these material disparities. It offers the case of bilingual education in the United States as an illustration of the affordances of raciolinguistic genealogy in researching language education policy.

Nelson Flores is an associate professor in educational linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. His research examines the intersection of language, race, and the political economy in shaping U.S. educational policies and practices. He has been the recipient of many academic awards including the 2017 AERA Bilingual Education SIG Early Career Award, a 2017 Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the 2019 James Alatis Prize for Research on Language Planning and Policy in Educational Contexts.

Giovanna Fassetta, University of Glasgow

Title: The role of narratives in the design of an online language course: reflections on capabilities, identity and representation.  

Abstract: This presentation will illustrate - and critically engage with - the main lessons learnt during two collaborative projects involving the School of Education (University of Glasgow, UK) and the Arabic Center of the Islamic University of Gaza (Palestine). The two projects resulted in the collaborative design and development of an Online Arabic language course for beginners, which aimed to provide opportunities for remote work for language teachers in the Gaza Strip.   

As well as prospects for online employment, this international online collaboration meant that Palestinian course developers and teachers were able to weave into the language course their view of the Gaza Strip, to challenge representations of their identity and to symbolically resist the 12-year blockade that has crippled the Strip’s economy, and which keeps its population in a situation of forced immobility. This was done primarily via the narrative of the short videos that introduce each of the course’s lessons, which represent both the ordinariness and exceptionality of living under siege.  

Giovanna Fassetta is Senior Lecturer in Social Inclusion in the School of Education, University of Glasgow. Giovanna has a background in language teaching and prior to starting work in Higher Education she taught Italian to children, young people and adults. Her research focuses on issues of migration and education and, more recently, on the role of arts and culture in peacebuilding.   


Daniel Fobi, University of Leeds

Daniel Fobi has just defended his PhD in deaf education in the School of Education, University of Leeds. Dani’s PhD examined the role of interpreting in the inclusion of deaf students in tertiary education in Ghana. His research interest is in early years language development of deaf children, sign language interpreting, mental health and wellbeing of young deaf people, inclusivity for individuals with disabilities and special education. Dani has interest in connecting researchers in the Global North and South and hopes to build research capacities in the South.

Kate Spowage, University of Leeds

Kate Spowage is a Lecturer in English Language at the University of Leeds. Her research explores the politics of global languages (particularly English). She has published and presented on language-in-education policy, social class, cultural-materialism, and decolonising sociolinguistic methodology. Her current research engages with political theory to think about English, capitalism, and decolonisation in postcolonial East Africa.

Rumana Hossain, University of Leeds

Rumana Hossain is a Doctoral Researcher in the School of Education, University of Leeds. She is researching the experience of Bangladeshi academics on return from study abroad. Her interests are in sociolinguistics, language education, social and academic mobility, and gender.