Angela Pickering lectures and researches in pedagogic practices for language teaching.
An experienced EFL teacher, Angela has developed the suite of postgraduate courses at the university, and supervises doctorates on pedagogy and practice in language education.
Her research has examined the practices of novice university lecturers and the use of blogs for professional development.
Dr Angela Pickering is currently Course Leader for the MAs in TESOL and TESOL with ICT, which are part of the English Language Teacher Education Programme (ELTEP).
Angela's research interests have changed and developed throughout her career. After researching in the field of educational technology in the 1980s, she began to develop an interest in not only language teaching and learning, but also how teachers learn to be teachers.
She is currently exploring the use of blogs by students on a teacher education course. The focus of the research is to explore attitudes of the students in using digital technologies for reflection and to analyse the levels of the reflection processed via the blogs. A key aspect of the research is also to examine the nature and preferred modes students choose for reflection.
Angela has been involved in joint projects investigating the learning and teaching of German, and most recently in research into professional learning, particularly in relation to reflective practice, the scaffolding of reflection, and teacher cognition. Doctoral research helped to identify insights into the process of pedagogic change, key aspects of this model being the role of personal beliefs, reflective narrative, and the notion of identity.
Angela Pickering was born and brought up in the north east of England, and many of her personal interests were formed during this time: spending time walking, interest in Durham and Northumbrian local history and family history, music and literature from the area. She also spends time with her family, exploring the Sussex and French countryside, reading and watching films.
She completed a BA in English Literature at Sussex University, followed by a PGCE (further and higher education sector) at Roehampton Institute. She decided to specialise in the field of English language teaching to non-native speakers and completed an RSA Diploma in TEFL, leaving the UK to work in Argentina. She taught English and became involved in teacher training while working at the Cultura Inglesa and a bi-lingual secondary school in Buenos Aires, before travelling through South America and the United States.
On her return to the UK, she joined the University of Brighton as a lecturer in English and TESOL, later completing an MA in Linguistics at the University of Sussex, and a Doctorate in Education at King's College, University of London. The latter extended her interest in language teacher development to the university context. Her doctoral research was an investigation of the pedagogic change of novice university lecturers.
Dr Pickering has a huge body of experience of teaching both within the UK and around the world. She is qualified to teach English language and literature within the further and higher education sectors, and also has a British Council accredited qualification to teach English to non-native speakers of English. The majority of her experience from 1978 to 1988 was with non-native speakers of English, in the South East of England and in South America, where she worked for a time for the British Council. In South America she also became involved in delivering teacher development programmes.
She currently teaches mainly on the English Language Teacher Education Programme, covering such areas as: Research Methods; Language Teacher Education; Cultures of Language Teaching; Practices of ELT; Classroom Research; Dissertation Supervision.Examples of some recent and ongoing MA dissertation topics are: an examination of the beliefs and practices of English language teachers in China; an investigation of attitudes to non-native speaker English language teachers in the Vietnamese context; an evaluation of the implementation of a curriculum innovation in Polish secondary schools; an empirically based assessment of the appropriacy of communicative teaching methodology in Korea; an evaluation of recent developments in Skills for Life curricula; an investigation of professional development problems in Colombia; the use of cooperative learning in Kuwaiti Higher Education.
She also assesses teaching for the Diploma in TESOL, supervises third year BA English Language dissertations and supervises PhD and EdD students.
During her career at the University of Brighton, she has played a key role in the development of the ELTEP. She has also worked to enhance the professional status of the Diploma in TESOL, and was part of the original development group for the design and validation of the University's Doctorate in Education.
Dr Pickering has also worked to build and maintain links with English language teachers and trainers in non-UK contexts, such as China, and has contributed to curriculum development and teacher training in, for example, Cyprus, Russia and Luxembourg.
How I like to teach - a first person account
I didn’t plan to teach when I was at university, but, for want of something else to do, I completed a post-graduate teaching certificate and began teaching English and general studies in a college of further education. I now find I have been teaching for over forty years and very enjoyable it’s been too. I’ve taught in a wide range of contexts (in the UK and globally, in schools, colleges and universities, in community centres and people’s homes), with a huge variety of students (toddlers to octogenarians, EFL learners, immigrants and students on academic, vocational and professional courses, in classes and one-to-one), and in a lot of different subject areas (English literature, English language to native speakers, EFL, sociolinguistics, English grammar, research methods, teacher development, reflective practice, and more…).
While I have two teaching qualifications, one of which relates directly to teaching in higher education, I’ve found most of my learning about teaching has come through reflection on my experience as both a learner and teacher, and through a consideration of my own beliefs and values. I definitely feel that my Dip TESOL qualification and experience has impacted very positively on all of the teaching I do. It is in this context that I’ve learnt most about managing learning, creating rapport, inclusive practice and person-centred learning.
As part of my MA and Dip TESOL teaching I observe other teachers teaching English. While one of my responsibilities is to help these teachers reflect on the lessons (which are videoed) and also often to grade the lessons (they need to be assessed unfortunately), I am very pleased to say that these experiences are a major part of my own development. What a luxury it is to sit and watch a class, in which you yourself are not the teacher!
Familiarity with iconic and current research in the field of TESOL is an important aspect of becoming a professional TESOL practitioner and feeling part of a professional community. A great deal of such scholarship is generated through taking part in and leading practice-based innovations and evaluations, and engaging with local practitioners through joint ventures (for example as part of the module ‘Investigating Language Classrooms’), as well as participating in TESOL conferences, such as those run by IATEFL, and encouraging students to complete assessed work in the form of digital portfolios, which can be shared with the TESOL community and help them to create and share a professional identity. All of this filters through to MA curriculum, assessment and method.
The most important conclusion I’ve come to overall is that you never stop learning about teaching, and that learners themselves are your best ‘teacher’. Of course there is also the importance of reflection (backwards) but also reflecting forwards, something which I have elsewhere termed “prospecting” (Pickering, 2000, 2006).
”Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards” (Kierkegaard).
What are those values?
How do I put my values into practice in my current university teaching with postgraduate and doctoral students?
by building in tasks which encourage self-expression, and the need to write, write and write again but even more importantly to help students develop thinking tools
“There is music in words, and it can be heard, you know, by thinking” (E.L. Doctorow)
Angela Pickering's postgraduate supervisory responsibilities include support for students in the Doctorate in Education programme and PhDs both in Humanities and Education.
She has supervised to completion 2 EdDs and 3 PhDs. Topics were:
• the potential of the interactive whiteboard to enhance classroom interaction in Greek secondary schools
• politeness and impoliteness in television talk-show questioning styles
• the effect of the use of cognitive metaphor theory-influenced teaching materials on the reading achievements of EAL learners in a London secondary school for Urdu speakers
• beliefs about the learning and teaching of foreign languages in Primary Schools / perceptions of German and British school students concerning the relevance of learning foreign languages
• perceptions of doctoral research, contrasting understandings of the nature of professional doctorates and PhDs
She is currently jointly supervising doctoral research on:
• the lived experiences of Chagossian immigrants in Crawley, with particular reference to schooling and acculturation
• the experiences of secondary school English language teachers in Bangladesh in a period of change and enforced innovation
• a qualitative study looking at how first year BA students navigate learning in a British university, specifically the cognitive, affective and social demands on their learning, and the challenges they face
• a creative and critical reflection on the impact of using the narrative voice of the second person
Watts, Catherine and Pickering, Angela (2004) Cash-in or continue? An exploration of the drop-out from German foreign language study between AS and A2 levels Anglo-German Foundation, London, UK.
2015IATEFL Conference, April 2015 (Manchester). Co-presented a paper on the use of blogs to facilitate reflective practice for in-service language teachers.
External PhD Examiner for PhD by Publication, University of Portsmouth. This related to the creation of a language teaching methodology course book written for pre-service teachers of English as a foreign language.
Helped to organise a Symposium on Language Teacher Identity (jointly with Jeremy Page of Sussex University) for the IATEFL Conference, Brighton.
Participation in a QuiTE workshop on the 'Experience of International Students in UK Universities', November
External Examiner University of Portsmouth on a range of postgraduate courses in TESOL and Applied Linguistics.
Learning about university teaching: reflections on a research study investigating influences for change, Teaching in Higher Education, 11/2: 319-335 29 citations
• CILT Conference Navidating the New Landscape for Languages, SOAS, University of London, June, 2004. Paper presented (with Catherine Watts) entitled: Cash-in or continue? An exploration of the drop-out rate from German foreign language study between AS and A2 levels. Facilitated a University of Brighton Symposium on Insider Research, May 2004
University of Brighton Learning and Teaching Conference, July 2002. Paper presented entitled: Becoming a university lecturer: an exploration of the beliefs and practices of 4 novice university lecturers enrolled on an in-service development programme