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 practitioner research) since 1997. I joined the University of Leeds in 1999, and combine my background in Applied Linguistics, Intercultural Studies and Language Teacher Education with my work in CPD and mentoring, EAP, TESOL and Teacher Education.

I am particularly interested in puzzling about and understanding the relationship between research and pedagogy in the language classroom. This involves working to understand cultural/intercultural issues of identity, agency and trust  that arise when learners as well as teachers engage in co-researching their praxis. I am convenor of the AILA Fully Inclusive Practitioner Research Network: spanning 5 continents and involving researchers, practitioners and practitioner-researchers, the ReN aims to address epistemological and pedagogical challenges for applied linguistics and language education in the 21st Century.

My main publications include:


Hanks, J. (2017). Exploratory Practice in Language Teaching: Puzzling about principles and practices. London: Palgrave Macmillan. https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137453433

Dikilita?, K., & Hanks, J. (Eds.). (2018). Developing Language Teachers with Exploratory Practice: Innovations and explorations in language education. London: Palgrave Macmillan. https://www.palgrave.com/jp/book/9783319757346 

Allwright, D. & Hanks, J. (2009). The Developing Language Learner: An introduction to Exploratory Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781403985316

Articles and accompanying videos

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. Dikilita?, 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).

More Videos


  • Programme Leader for MATESOL and Teacher Education
  • Academic Group Leader for Language Education Academic Group (2017-18)
  • Head of UG Area (2015-17)

Research interests

My research  interests are primarily in language education, language teacher education and applied linguistics, with particular emphasis on Exploratory Practice – a form of inclusive practitioner research which involves learners and teachers investigating their own experiences of language learning and teaching. I focus on the relationships between research and pedagogy, understanding puzzling issues in education, and how notions of culture affect teacher/learner identities in the language classroom.

As practitioners 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 discourses of trust and agency as teachers, learners and researchers overcome boundaries constraining who does what in researching language education and applied linguistics. . My work theorises the notion of research-as-practice, which I re-conceptualise as practice-as-research, exciting much interest in the field.

I am well-known internationally as an independent researcher dedicated to language learning and teaching. I regularly give plenary talks, presentations and workshops at conferences both nationally and internationally (eg AERA, San Antonio, USA, 2017; AILA, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2017; IATEFL, Brighton, UK, 2018). Most recent Keynotes and Plenaries include: Estonia (Tartu, 2015), Japan (2007; 2013; 2018), Portugal  (2007), Thailand (2016) and Turkey (2013; 2015; 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


Student education

I currently lead the MA TESOL & Teacher Education, and in the past I have led the MA TESOL (China) and the BA in English, Language & Education. I enjoy teaching both Undergraduate and Postgraduate students and I lead modules such as Contexts and Approaches in TESOL; Teacher Education in TESOL;  Language, Learners and Society. In the past I have led Teaching Oral and Written Skills in TESOL; Language Description for 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 happily supervise doctoral students, and particularly welcome applications in the areas of (i) exploratory practice and/or practitioner research, with a particular focus on (i) understanding, collegiality and integrating research and pedagogy in language classrooms, (ii) intercultural issues in language teacher education and continuing professional development, (iii) academic literacies and intercultural issues in EAP and/or TESOL, (iv) discourses 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 have successfully completed, or are currently engaged in doctoral work in the following areas:

  • curriculum change in language teacher education in Chile
  • experiential learning and reflective practices in healthcare in the UK
  • leadership practices of senior teachers, assistant heads, and head teachers in Oman
  • literacy practices of bilingual young learners learning Korean and Roman alphabets
  • practitioner research and its affordances for motivation and professional development in Indonesia
  • pre-service EFL teacher-learning during the practicum in Turkey
  • professional development of teachers of Dutch as a second language
  • teacher perceptions of research for professional development in Saudi Arabia
  • vocabulary learning and teaching strategies and the mental lexicon

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Language Education

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>