EAP in Ireland Workshops/Webinars


Two Part Event Webinar Series

First Part: Facing the Elephant in the Room: Precarity: Recording Available Here

Second Part: Exploring Key Issues Surrounding Professional Identity: Recording available here

1st Talk: ‘There Is No UP!’ A Critical Discourse Analysis of Self-Perceptions of English-Language Teachers in the Private English-Language School Sector in Ireland by Deborah Tobin  (ELT teacher and Departmental Assistant/PhD candidate, MIC, Limerick, Twitter: @deborahtobin11)
The global expansion of English has meant increased international demand for qualified, experienced English-language teachers in privately-owned Irish ELT schools. The ELT industry in this country has been lucrative. Regardless, most teachers within the sector are not remunerated on an equitable scale, with precarious work conditions such as low pay, zero-hour contracts and lack of legislation indicating that job insecurity has historically been a stark reality. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this precarity exponentially. Postgraduate qualifications, participation in continuous professional development and adherence to standards of excellence have consistently been demanded of ELT teachers by their school employers, ELT regulatory and government bodies. However, the same employers, regulatory and government bodies have either fallen short of or refused to acknowledge responsibility for adherence to standards of employment excellence for their teachers, a double-standard that has become a focus of intense media scrutiny since first uncovered in 2015. Deborah’s study uses a mixed-methods’ approach of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of language used by ELT teachers in focus group interviews with quantitative data analysis from an online survey aimed at gaining insight into factors within the Irish private ELT sector influencing teacher perceptions, to investigate where ELT teachers position themselves within their community of practice. Many of their lived experiences until recently have been anecdotal; it is hoped that this research will address a gap in empirical data about this ELT teacher cohort to assist ELT advocacy groups in giving voice to teachers’ workplace conditions at national and government level.
2nd Talk: “Would you not go back to real teaching?” A corpus-based analysis of professional identity in the informal discourse of university language teachers by Aoife Ní Mhurchú  (University Language Teacher at University College Cork; PhD Candidate at University of Limerick; committee member of EAP in Ireland, Twitter: @aoifELT)  
Aoife is currently undertaking doctoral research in the area of language teacher identity under the supervision of Prof. Fiona Farr and Dr. Elaine Riordan at the University of Limerick. Language teacher identity (LTI) is an area which has justifiably been the focus of much academic attention in recent years, as it has been found to have a direct impact on learning outcomes (Beijaard et al., 2004), curricular decisions, education policy (Cheung, 2008) and classroom practices (Bailey & Evison, 2020). A strong professional identity has also been found to aid in the the prevention of burnout and also in the retention of teachers in the profession (Gaziel, 1995). Aoife’s research is distinctive in its focus on the discourse of teachers outside the classroom. Using corpus-based discourse analysis methods, her research will shed light on how language teachers construct and reconstruct their professional identities in the corridors and canteens of Ireland’s higher education institutions. As such, it is hoped that this research will help to provide a better understanding of the needs of experienced language teachers and to inform programmes for continuing professional development. 

Register via Eventbrite: Link to registration

Firstly, we would like to say thank you to the following practitioners for inspiring us to do this event: 

Alex Ding and the team at the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Leeds University, who organised an event last year entitled ‘EAP Practitioner Precarity and the Coronavirus Event’: https://celt.leeds.ac.uk/practitioner-precarity-and-the-coronavirus-introduction/ (Overview of event) https://celt.leeds.ac.uk/day-four-international-perspectives/ (see this link for perspectives from practitioners in Ireland) Twitter: @centreCELT

Christina Barni, (ELT Teacher and Trainer at a private language school – unemployed due to pandemic), for speaking out on Twitter in regards to how many organisations have been silent in terms of precarity during this covid period. This thread really spoke to us and gave us the push to not be silent. A huge thank you Christina as speaking out when in a precarious situation is not easy. Twitter: @ChrisB95216897  

Aoife Ní Mhurchú, (University Language Teacher at University College Cork, PhD Candidate, a committee member of EAP in Ireland), Thank you Aoife for inspiring the second part of this event on professional identity. We have been really eager to listen to your research regarding the issues surrounding professional identity and feel, as you do, it’s fundamental to the issues of precarity. Twitter: @aoifELT

Part 1: Facing the Elephant in the Room: Precarity 

EAP in Ireland believes that it is essential as an educational organisation to question the foundation of our discipline. To do this, it would be very difficult not to question the serious issue of precarity that is rife in English Language Teaching. All of us, including all contexts of ELT/EAP and all levels, have been or are faced with the damage that precarity does to the reputation of the discipline, and the effects on the well-being and mental health of practitioners. 

Covid has made the extent of the injustices surrounding precarity visible, and now we cannot continue ignoring it. A serious issue with precarity is that it can silence those who are in precarious working environments due to the insecurity of holding onto a job. Therefore, EAP in Ireland wants to create a platform to bring ELT/EAP practitioners together in solidarity and to give a platform to share different perspectives on how precarity affects us all. 

We are very lucky to have Ireland based practitioners from various contexts and levels of ELT/EAP, who have volunteered to share their perspectives and contexts on the issue of precarity. Details about the speakers and the contexts they will be speaking from will be added soon. 

The talks will then be followed by breakout room discussions for practitioners to share their own experiences. However, we know that this topic is a very personal and emotional one, so please do not feel obliged to share in the breakout rooms. We want to ensure that we create a brave and safe space for practitioners to come together, but also a space that no one feels obliged to speak out. Please share with those in the  ELT/EAP community as it is essential that we, of all levels and employment status, come together on this issue. 

Speaker Details

Talk 1 Christina Barni, ELT Teacher & Trainer at a private language school: unemployed due to pandemic (Twitter:@ChrisB95216897)

A New Precarity

Before the pandemic hit, teachers were reckoning with precarity and hoping for more secure employment, fair contracts and a stable career path. A year later, many teachers and staff are in a type of suspended animation; either thrown into online or hybrid teaching in 2020, or still out of work altogether. It is difficult to predict how disruptions to the economy and international travel will affect the ELT/EAP sector, and there are likely tough decisions ahead for many.

This year brings a ‘new precarity’ for our sector and many others. It also brings hope that vaccines and public health measures will ease us into a new normal. Let’s take a look at some of the challenges ELE/EAP stakeholders are facing and what pressures this might place on teachers’ and staff’s job prospects and mental health.

As someone who has faced mental health challenges with relation to my work as a teacher and staff member, I think it is important to address the ongoing uncertainty head-on with information and open discussion.

Talk 2 Deborah Tobin, ELT teacher & PhD candidate

(Twitter: @deborahtobin11)

I am an ELT teacher of thirty years’ experience, much of which has been within the private Irish ELT sector. I intend to speak really from my own personal experience and examine what precarity looks like in real terms on a day-in, day-out basis, as well as outline what my own experiences of good practice have been. I raised the point at the recent ELT Ireland conference, that so-called standard bearer, ‘good’ schools are still seeing it fit to engage in below-standard workplace practice; this has been my own personal experience, and concerns me going forward in a COVID context.

Talk 3 Jessica Garska, EAP/ELT teacher & PhD candidate in end stages 

(Twitter: @JessicaGarska)

I am an EAP/ELT teacher and researcher as well as PhD candidate at Trinity College Dublin due to submit in August 2021. In this event, I am going to talk about how precarity, both in a general sense and due to COVID19, has impacted my job search in academia. Additionally, I am going to address how COVID19 has increased uncertainty and precarity using examples from my experience as an English language teacher in Kerry, Ireland.

Talk 4 Aoife Ní Mhurchú, University Language Teacher & PhD Candidate 

(Twitter: @aoifELT)

Aoife is a University Language Teacher at University College Cork Language Centre where she works as a teacher and teacher educator in the field of TESOL. Aoife is also a PhD candidate at the University of Limerick where she is researching the professional identity of language teachers. 

At this event, Aoife will talk about her professional journey through English language teaching both in the private and public sector, highlighting some encounters with precarity that she has had along the way.  

Talk 5 Peter Lahiff, Academic Director & founding member & former president of ELT Ireland

(Twitter: @LahiffP)

The Link between Providing Quality Courses and Giving Quality Employment
A reputation for cheap, low quality courses puts the English Language Education sector in Ireland as a whole in a precarious position. The campaign for better employment terms is inextricably linked with the need to enforce a level playing field on quality provision. Good regulation in this area would reduce the scope for unscrupulous operators to make a business from undercutting the institutions who are committed to meeting their obligations as employers. Our hopes rest on the long anticipated International Education Mark, which still does not have a confirmed timeline for implementation. An analysis of the course fees charged by a school is a useful guide to what you can expect from them as an employer as well as a course provider.

Peter works on the development and management of project-based and technology enhanced language courses for young learners and adults where he is the Academic Director. He is a founding committee member and former president of ELT Ireland and represent the organisation on the governments on the ELE Working Group.

Talk 6 John Whipple, Unite ELT Committee Member, EAP and ELT professional, researcher & writer


A No-Shortcuts Plan for an End to Precarious Teaching Work 

English language teaching schools are the most typical background for EAP professionals. In Ireland these schools have developed a reputation for flexible (precarious) employment with unpaid work and end of week dismissals typical. But since 2015 teachers in Ireland have pushed back. 

English Language Teachers in Ireland have shown that organising even the most precariously employed teachers in the Irish economy – under some quite union-hostile employers – is actually possible. And organising has very been powerful in winning for these teachers who love the jobs they are renowned for doing so well, just like EAP professionals. 

A timeline and three recent cases will be presented strongly suggesting a way to end the precarity and keep the job. Please attend. Questions welcome.

Julie Butters, University Language Teacher & Academic Coordinator

(Twitter: @JulieButtersELT)

Julie will be speaking out about her experience of precarious working conditions within higher education both in the UK and Ireland & summing up the talks above. 

This event will then be followed by Part 2: Professional Identity: Thursday 15th April 4pm-6pm (Register via link at top of page.) 

1st Talk: “Would you not go back to real teaching?” by Aoife Nií Mhurchú  (University Language Teacher at University College Cork, PhD Candidate, a committee member of EAP in Ireland) 
2nd Talk: ‘There Is No UP!’ by  Deborah Tobin (ELT teacher & PhD candidate)

The second event in regards looks at how professional identity affects practitioners from two different perspectives: practitioners working within a university context and practitioners working within a private language school context. This event is based on the research of two PhD candidates (Aoife Ní Mhurchú & Deborah Tobin), who will also both be speaking at the precarity event. 

Strategies for Successful Online Engagement Webinar

by Niamh Kelly, Founder of HippoEdTech LTD & Tigim (http://tigim.co/)

Niamh's photo

Are you worried about the level of engagement you are achieving with online/remote teaching?

With over 3 years of experience delivering education fully online to 50,000+ students globally, Niamh Kelly has tried & tested a range of technologies to successfully engage learners. Technology can actually make your life easier, once you know what to use and how. Niamh developed an online Foundation Year programme, Hippo Campus, & has helped thousands of students to achieve the required IELTS scores & academic skills for university…without getting them to turn their cameras on! Niamh is now on a mission to show teachers how they can use technology to raise the voice of their struggling students, without the embarrassment of raising their hands.

In this two-part workshop series, Niamh will demonstrate the best tools to use & how you can incorporate them into your online or blended-teaching approach to EAP. These technologies, when used correctly, can be strategically used to maximise engagement between you and your students, as well as within their own peer groups. Even if your school returns to a face-to-face learning environment, technology can still play a strategic role in maximising engagement, learning and outcomes.

Sign up here to join the two-part series.

Part 1 Recording: Link To Recording

In Part 1, Thursday, August 20th @ 6 pm, Niamh will demo technology that can increase engagement & how they can become part of EAP programmes. You will be given recommendations on what to use over the following week to assess for yourself.

In Part 2, Thursday, August 27th @ 6 pm, we will review your experiences of trialling some of the technology & get your feedback on how they can be used successfully for the changing landscape of EAP.


Online Assessments Webinar:


Rob Playfair, University of Liverpool, Secretary of BALEAP Testing, Assessment and Feedback SIG,

Fiona Orel, University of Reading, Convenor of BALEAP Testing, Assessment and Feedback SIG,

Wayne Rimmer, University of Manchester, Events Officer of BALEAP Testing, Assessment and Feedback SIG,

Please see their bios via the BALEAP webpage here: https://baleaptafsig.weebly.com/about.html

Wednesday 12th August 4pm-5pm

Location: the planet of Zoom (Sign up for the link here)


Rob Playfair: Link To Recording 

Fiona Orel: Link To Recording

Wayne Rimmer: Link To Recording

A huge thank you to Rob, Fiona and Wayne for offering to deliver a webinar on online assessments. In May, we hosted our first Discussion and Support group meet-up to give practitioners the opportunity to come together from various contexts to share their concerns, challenges, advice and support during what, for many people, has been a very intense time. For some, this intense time has required adapting to whole new ways of teaching and learning, and dealing with the pressures, realities and effects of the precarity of ELT and EAP profession. Colleagues raised a broad range of different questions and issues, and one of the recurring themes was the challenges of online assessment.

Since assessment informs so much of what we do – especially on programmes such as pre-sessionals – this concern is both understandable and urgent to address. This first webinar represents EAP in Ireland’s early efforts to disseminate best practice and share workable ideas on valid online assessment. Our thanks go, in the first instance, to Jeni Driscoll from the University of Liverpool, who suggested her colleague, Rob Playfair, could lead a useful webinar on this topic. We also thank Rob for agreeing to deliver the webinar at short notice!

We discussed the format of the webinar and decided that it could be based on the questions that practitioners in the community had during our discussion groups. Therefore, we collected questions from the community and forwarded them on to Rob. Rob kindly agreed to work with the questions we gave. We were delighted to hear from Rob that Fiona and Wayne would also be participating in the webinar to bring us perspectives from different contexts.

So we feel very lucky to be able to host this webinar, and really hope you are able to join us.

Also, please watch this space as we hope to continue hosting webinars on more of the challenges that have been raised in our meet-up sessions. If you would like to subscribe to our emailing list to stay up to date on our events, please email: info@eapinireland.org to be added.



DIFC Dublin D213 Directions

Cork Seminar Series


March 12 innovative teaching methods seminar series

Our April 28th workshop on EAP Curriculum and Assessment Development was a great success! Maxine Gillway’s slides are available here (curriculum) and here (assessment).

A few photos from the event: