Dr Clare Cunningham

PhD in Education (York), MA (York St John University), BA (York), Cambridge ESOL CELTA, FHEA 


I am a Senior Lecturer on the  Linguistics programmes in the School of  Languages and Linguistics (SoLL), and teach on the BA English Language and Linguistics, BA Linguistics and TESOL, BA Languages and TESOL  and the MA in Applied Linguistics: TESOL programmes. I am a member of the Centre for Language and Social Justice within the SoLL and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I have also worked as an a EFL tutor and have a wide range of experience teaching English, including English for Academic Purposes on pre-sessional (York St John University, Durham and Edinburgh universities) and International Foundation programmes (York St John University), Business English (York Associates), General English, and ES(O)L. I previously worked in the private sector for an independent tour operator, managing tour leaders, and providing multilingual operational support across Europe.

My doctoral research (at the University of York) focused on teachers attitudinal discourses about working with children with languages beyond English in northern UK primary schools.

My other research interests include educational and applied linguistics more broadly; innovative pedagogical practice in TEFL and Higher Education, including feedback to and from students, and the use of music in the classroom; awareness of and competence in English as a Lingua Franca; and motivation for learning foreign language.

Further Information


Module director:

Year 1 Introduction to English Language and Linguistics

Year 1 Multilingualism

Year 3 Attitudes to Language

Year 3 Reflections and Connections

Year 3 ELL Dissertation

I also supervise Year 3 dissertations projects.

Professional Activities

I am the academic lead on the student-led civic engagement project YEAL (York English as an Additional Language), which is an outreach project to local schools led by a student committee of YSJ Linguistics and Education undergraduates, which aims to increase aspiration amongst school children and to assist teachers in working with children who speak languages beyond English.

I am a founder member of the National Association for Language Development in the Community (NALDIC)'s Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Group, established in October 2012.

I developed a relationship with the British Council from 2010, being an ELTRP grant-holder (c. £2.5K) and following this research paper up with a further publication and an appearance as a speaker during the 2012-2013 Teaching English seminar series, at the Evening Seminar for EAL teachers in May 2013.

I am also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Research & Publications

Journal articles / research papers

Cunningham, C. (2019). ‘When ‘home languages’ become ‘holiday languages’: teachers’ discourses about maintenance and attrition of languages beyond English.’ Language, Culture and Curriculum.

Cunningham, C. (2019). ‘”The Inappropriateness of Language”: discourses of power and control over languages beyond English in primary schools.’ Language and Education.

Cunningham, C. (2019).Terminological tussles: taking issue with 'EAL' and 'languages other than English.’ Power and Education, 11 (1).

Cunningham, C. (2014). ‘’Keep talking’: using music during small group discussions in EAP.’ ELT Journal, 68 (2): pp. 179-191.

Wardman, C. (2012). ‘Pulling the threads together: current theories and current practice affecting UK primary school children who have English as an Additional Language’. British Council ELT Research Papers, 12-04.

Wardman, C. (2012). ‘Interactions between EAL pupils, specialist teachers and TAs during withdrawal from the mainstream in UK primary schools’. Education 3-13.

Wardman, C. (2010). “Making the News: a motivating writing skills project for ESL students”. The Internet TESL Journal, XVI (1).

Wardman, C. (2009).  “Authentic Materials in English Language Teaching: are they as important as we think?” Folio, 13 (2), pp. 14-17.


Book chapters

Cunningham, C. (in press). ‘Beliefs about ‘good English’ in schools.’ In Hall, C. J. and R. Wicaksono (Eds). Ontologies of English. Cambridge: CUP.

Wardman, C. (2013). ‘EAL provision in England: combining theory and practice or not?’ in Pattison, T. (ed) IATEFL 2012: Glasgow Conference Selections. Canterbury: IATEFL.

Wardman, C., Bell, J. & Sharp, E. (2012). ‘Valuing Home Languages’ in Mallows, D. (Ed.) Innovations in English Language Teaching to Migrants and Refugees. London: British Council.

Wardman, C. (2011). ‘Children with EAL: Comparing withdrawal sessions with teachers and teaching assistants’ in Pattison, T. (ed) IATEFL 2010: Harrogate Conference Selections. Canterbury: IATEFL.


Popular science/ public engagement

Cunningham, C. (2018). ‘Why teachers shouldn’t be afraid of other languages being spoken in the classroom.’ The Conversation UK. 21 May 2018.

Cunningham, C. (2018). 'Attitudes towards multilingualism and multilingual children in primary schools.' EAL Journal blog. 5 March 2018.

Wardman, C. (2012). ‘The classroom support v. withdrawal debate for children with English as an Additional Language’ Teachitworld e-newsletter, ‘Life in an English-speaking country’, 13.


Conferences and Talks

Invited talks and lectures

NQT webinar on EAL, York St John University NQT webinar series (May 2019).

“Attitudes of Primary Teachers to Languages Beyond English”, EAL Mini Conference 2QTSP2, York St John University (May 2019).

Plenary: “Teachers’ attitudes to children who speak ‘languages beyond English’ in northern England”, Unity in Diversity Symposium, das Mercator-Institut für Sprachförderung und Deutsch als Zweitsprache, Universität zu Köln (September, 2018).

“'The inappropriateness of language': allocating and avoiding blame in our increasingly multilingual schools”, York St John University, English Language and Linguistics Colloquium Series lecture (April 18, 2018).

“Attitudes towards emergent multilingual children in the mainstream: an analysis of teachers’ discourse”, York St John University Postgraduate Forum in Applied Linguistics (27 January 2016).

“Analysing attitudes towards bilingual strategies in a super-diverse educational context”, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain: Department of English Philology (May 23, 2014).

“Supporting home languages”, British Council Seminar Series 2012-2013: An evening seminar for EAL teachers (May 9, 2013).

“Justifying why it’s OK to ‘supervise’ children talking in their home language: the teachers’ point of view”, York St John University, English Language and Linguistics Colloquium Series lecture (December 5, 2012).

“Teaching bi- and pluri-lingual children in UK primary schools: teachers' perceptions of the experience focusing on the value placed on home languages”, University of Leeds, Language Education Research group (November 13, 2012).

“Academic Literacies and internationalisation” (with Dr Catherine Samiei and Charlie Martineau), Higher Education Academy Seminar: Changing English in internationalising universities, York St John University (7 September 2012).

“Bilingualism and the role of school-family relationships”, University of Edinburgh, Centre of English Language Teaching: English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics programme (6 September 2011).


Conference talks and poster presentations

“Writing retreats for undergraduate students”, Talk about Teaching Conference (York St John University, June 2018).

Poster: “Primary school teachers' perspectives on responsibility for minority language maintenance: Who is to blame for language attrition and shift?”, Exploring Language Education: Global and Local Perspectives (Stockholm University, June 2018).

“Dare to Dream of Truly Inclusive Language” (with Helen Sauntson), Festival of Ideas 2018 (York, June 2018).

“’She came into the school with no language’: UK primary teachers’ discourse regarding perceptions of languages in supporting bilingual children, their languages, and families”, 18th World Congress of the International Association of Applied Linguistics, Rio, Brazil (July 2017).

“Terminological tussles: Languages other than English”, 11th International Symposium on Bilingualism, University of Limerick (June 2017).

“Attitudes to Multilingualism in Primary Schools”, Reflections on Research conference, York St John University (8 September 2016).

“In what ways do teachers talk of the capacity of teachers, parents and children in supporting bilingual children and their home languages in UK mainstream primary schools?”, International Conference on Bilingualism, University of Malta (25 March 2015).

“Does York's linguistic landscape reflect the languages spoken in the city?” (with Dasha Zhurauskaya), Yornight @ European Researchers’ Night, York St John University, York (26 September 2014).

“Teachers’ perspectives on the state of play for home languages in super-diverse primary schools classrooms.”, British Association for Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick (4 September 2014).

“What factors can encourage teachers to incorporate more home language use into super-diverse school classrooms?”, 17th World Congress of the International Association of Applied Linguistics, Brisbane, Australia (15 August 2014).

“How valued and utilized are the home languages of bilingual children by their teachers in UK primary education?”, 9th International Symposium on Bilingualism, Singapore (10 June 2013).

“Home languages in mainstream schools: widely encouraged or under supported?”, International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, Liverpool (9 April 2013).

Poster: “The provision of support for children with EAL in northern English primary schools and on-going challenges to be faced”, Language in a Network of European Excellence (LINEE) Training Institute in Multilingualism, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic (20 June 2012).

“In-group and out-group positioning: An analysis of how a primary school head teacher orients himself with regards to his school and wider ethnic minority communities”, University of Sheffield School of English Postgraduate Colloquium (21 May 2012).

“Teachers’ views on provision of support for children with English as an Additional Language in UK primary schools”, Research Students’ Annual Conference, University of Leeds (18 April 2012).

“EAL provision in England: combining theory and practice or not?”, International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, Glasgow (21 March 2012).

“Playing devil’s advocate with Authentic Materials in English Language Teaching”, TESOL France, Paris (27 November 2010).

“Children with EAL: Comparing withdrawal sessions with teachers and teaching assistants”, International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, Harrogate (8 April 2010).

“A research methodology for comparing teaching approaches in withdrawal sessions for children with English as an Additional Language in UK primary schools”, 4th YSJ University Postgraduate Research Methodologies Conference (11 November 2009).

“Authentic Materials in English Language Teaching: are they as important as we think?”, 7th British Universities Postgraduate Research Conference: Principles and Practice for Language Learning and Materials Development, Leeds Metropolitan University (16 May 2009).


Research seminar talks

‘Exploring the discourses of primary school managers and teachers in the UK: attitudes towards multilingualism and multilingual children’, Languages and Identities in InterAction Research Unit seminar, York St John University (November 2016).

“UK primary school teachers' perceptions of the value of home languages in the school environment”, Languages and Identities in InterAction Research Unit seminar, York St John University (December 2012).

“‘Bringing the outside in’: how teachers working with bilingual children talk about home languages in the primary classroom”, Department of Education Research Group, University of York (November 2012).

Data session: “discourse analysis of interviews with primary school teachers: in-group and out-group stances”, Languages and Identities in InterAction Research Unit seminar, York St John University (November 2011).

EAL in UK Primary schools: early days of research”, Department of Education Research Group, University of York (February 2011).

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