Project description

What is this project all about?

The ELLeN project focuses on teacher education, especially English as a foreign language (EFL) teacher education. It helps to prepare (future) teachers for the neurodiverse classroom by drawing on expertise within neurodivergent communities and expertise of stakeholders in inclusive education, utilizing an approach known as inquiry based learning.

We believe that the experiences and opinions of neurodivergent learners can be highly relevant information for (future) teachers. While not all learners’ intuitions about their learning process are borne out by the facts (this applies to learners of all neurotypes), they are essential starting points for investigating how to best support each learner. This project contributed to teacher education by involving future teachers in collecting first person accounts of neurodivergent learners and stakeholders in inclusive education and making them available as means for teacher training and professional development. These first person accounts are intended not as mere data points or illustrations to research results, but as voices of key stakeholders in any discourse about heterogeneity in education.

What is neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is a term that was originally developed within online lay discourses (Singer 2017), and popularized by the nascent Autistic Pride Movement (Silberman 2015), to refer to the diversity of neurotypes in society. The term “neurodiversity should not be read as a medical term, though neurotypes are traditionally defined clinically, but as “the consideration of differences in brains as an element of diversity within societies” (Baker 2011: 3).

A group is neurodiverse if it contains people of different neurotypes, while a person is neurodivergent if they belong to a minority neurotype, e.g., by being autistic, dyslexic, or by having ADHD.

What is the connection between neurodiversity and English language teaching specifically?

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What are key outputs of the project?

Here are some of our key outputs:

teaching ideas and materials for using inquiry-based learning to prepare future teachers of English as a foreign language for the neurodiverse classroom

a report reflecting on our implementations of these concepts and materials

– a book with interview transcripts that can be used in teacher education (coming soon)

– self-study materials on neurodiversity and EFL, for teachers & teacher education students (coming soon)

visual summaries of key ideas