ELLeN book now available!

Within the ELLeN project, teacher education students interviewed neurodivergent language learners and stakeholders in inclusive education. A selection of their interviews has now been published in book form! The book is called “Expert*innen in eigener Sache: Gespräche über Englischunterricht und Neurodiversität” [Experts by experience: Conversations about English language teaching and neurodiversity”] and is available from the publisher or any bookstore as a printed book and ebook. Furthermore, an open access version of the manuscript is available from the project website. This version of the manuscript has been published under a creative commons licence to make re-use for different teacher education settings as easy as possible.

Even though the book has a German title, it is multilingual: It encompasses English and German interviews, plus summaries in English, German and Flemish. The printed book contains a German-language introduction, but translations in other languages are available from the website (English foreword and Flemish foreword).

Interested in the decisions we’ve made preparing the manuscript? More information is available from this short report.

Students at TU Dortmund combine ELLeN project & maker culture

In Winter term 2023/2024, students studying to become teachers for different school forms spent the semester exploring different kinds of dis/abilities and difference, as well as their implacations for the English language classroom. The course, taught by Carolyn Blume, used the resources of the HyLeC: Hybrid Learning Center to design – and create – products for use in inclusive and heterogeneous English classrooms. The future teachers used 3D printers, laser cutters, sewing machines, embroidery and a range of materials to create haptic teaching and learning materisl for inclusive EFL teaching. Some examples are featured below.

Wooden tiles with laser engravings, showing pictures and QR codes on one side, text in laser-engraved letters and braille on the other side. Cards and post-its with feedback.
Accessible and inclusive revision exercise/game for prepositions of place (grade 5). The cards contain images, Braille, and QR codes that lead to audio files.

A reading ruler (A ruler like object with a window in it) from red transparent plastic, overlaid over a same text. Card with project info and post-its with feedback
Reading ruler: Helps students to focus on one line of a text at a time.

Students at Ghent University created ELLeN-inspired multimedia products

In December 2023, Master students of Gender and Diversity at Ghent University presented their multimedia products on the topics of ‘neurodiversity and neurodiversity and learning’. Students collaborated with lived experience experts in their work over several months.

Two excellent examples of the work produced are Amaryllis and Simon’s podcast and Evy, Tim, Femke and Souad’s instagram wall.

Virtual teacher education workshop hosted by UMBC’s TESOL program

On December 7th, Jules Buendgens-Kosten held a workshop on “Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Universal Design for Learning”, hosted by the TESOL program at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. During this 1-hour event, attended by 31 local educators from different subject disciplines, they drew on ELLeN educational materials (“IO1”) and on ELLeN interviews (“IO2”) to introduce key ideas related to neurodiversity and Universal Design for Learning, and to present the ELLeN project more generally.

A slide on neurodiversity. It shows a picture of a meadow, and a quote by Murray: “One aspect of human diversity is the variety of processing styles we have: what we call neurodiversity. Like other kinds of diversity, it is probably a net positive, but it comes with serious challenges for those who are seen as divergent.”

Final Multiplier Event

ELLeN held their final Multiplier Event on November 27th  and 28th as part of a symposium sponsored jointly between the Institute for Diversity Studies (Link: https://div.kuwi.tu-dortmund.de/) and the Dortmund Competence Center for Teacher Education and Research (Link: https://dokoll.tu-dortmund.de/ ) at the TU Dortmund. Additional funding was provided in part by the “Stifterverband” as part of DiTAIL, and through a generous donation by the “Friends of the TU Dortmund”.

Over the course of three presentations, members of the ELLeN Team shared different aspects of the work that has transpired over the last three years and that will be disseminated in the coming weeks and months. Caro Blume offered an overview of ELLeN and highlighted its relationship to the theme of the symposium: Teaching and learning about digitality and diversity in (foreign) language teacher education. Raúl García, and Pasquale Uferkamp illustratively shared information about the process and products developed for teacher educators and professionals looking to extend their knowledge of neurodiversity and English language learning. This was followed by insights into the collected data, with Michelle Proyer and Geert van Hove reporting on how pre-service teachers involved in participatory research grappled with the tensions of teaching inclusively in systems that are not always inclusive. Rieke Dieckhoff then joined Raúl García to discuss the findings from descriptive and qualitative data, likewise revealing pre-service teachers’ perspectives on ELLeN-related activities and content.

The symposium was attended by members of the TU Dortmund community, as well as external visitors who braved the weather and related travel delays to join the sessions. The questions and comments by the members of the audience demonstrated an appreciation for the complexity of preparing pre-service teachers for challenging educational environments, and equally, the importance of doing so.

Conference proceedings are planned for publication in 2024.

Two ELLeN multiplier events in one week

This week saw two multiplier events in just a few days. First, on November 13th 2023, a hybrid event in Vienna, focused on inquiry-based learning and the “lessons learned” of the project and featuring exciting guest speaker Katta Spiel, who shared their research on neurodiversity and games with the audience.

Organizers Julia Hüttner, a woman with mid-length brown hair wearing a colorful blouse and a light blue blazer and Michelle Proyer, a woman with long blond dreadlocks, who wears a black top and a colorful scarf, sitting at a conference table during a short break.

Then, on the 16th, an online event with a focus on our forthcoming book of interviews. Carolyn Blume described how inquiry based learning – specifically interviews with neurodivergent individuals and stakeholders in inclusive education – were integrated in teacher education seminars. Rieke Dieckhoff introduced the audience to the editing process that turned these interviews into a forthcoming book. Geert van Hove shared shared some conclusions we drew from this project. Special highlight was the talk by James Docherty, a university student who had been interviewed for this project, who candidly shared his experiences at school and his experiences as an interviewee in the ELLeN project.

On the left side is a screenshot of a slide. It says the following: "In the ELLeN-project when listening to experts-by-experience we were confronted with a clear message.... TEACHERS CAN INDEED MAKE A DIFFERENCE".

On the right is an image of Geert van Hove. He has white hair and a white beard and mustache. He has black-rimmed, round glasses, a gray scarf and a deep-red shirt. He is in the middle of gesterung with his hands.

Transnational Meeting takes place at TU Dortmund

On August 3rd and 4th, the ELLeN consortiuum met in Dortmund, to discuss the current state of project work and to plan next steps. Special focus was on IO3 – a “Lessons learned” report on using inquiry based learning in teacher education with a focus on neurodiversity – and IO4 – multimedia material for teacher education. The next – and last – TPM will be held in Vienna in November.

Three women, two men and a non-binary person sitting around a conference table, looking at the camera and smiling On the conference table, there are laptops, documents, coffee cups, etc.

Multiplier Event at Goethe University Frankfurt brings together different stakeholders

On July 17th, 2023, different stakeholders met at a Multiplier Event focussing on drawing on neurodivergent experiences for teacher education. Jules Bündgens-Kosten greeted the attending teachers, teacher education students, teacher educators and researchers and presented a “beta version” of the ELLeN interview book, made available exclusively to participants at this event. This interview book comprises a selection of interviews with neurodivergent individuals and stakeholders in inclusive education, which were conducted by teacher education students within the ELLeN project. Then, Aleksander Knauerhase held a workshop on autism. Finally, everybody had plenty of opportunity to exchange experiences, questions and ideas at “thematic tables”.

A finalized version of the ELLeN interview book will soon be published and made available to all interested individuals.

Aleksander Knauerhase, a teacher educator and two students in discussion at one of the thematic tables. The four people are sitting at a table covered with a white paper table cloth. One person is writing on it, another person seems to have finished writing on it. One person looks at the camera.

ELLeN projects hosts successful event on “Neurodiversity in a Capitalist Era”

On June 13th, 2023, Geert Van Hove (University Ghent) and Michelle Proyer (University of Vienna) welcomed nearly 40 participants from around the world to their online seminar on “Neurodiversity in a Capitalist Era”. The keynote speaker, Alica Broderick from Montclair State University, presented an engaging talk on how neurodiversity is commodified, and what this means e.g. for activism. Jospehine Go Jefferies from Newcastle University and Oliver Koenig (Bertha von Suttner Privatuniversität) served as respondents, who added their own research perspectives and considerations to create a complex tapistry of ideas and challenges. A short introduction to the ELLeN project was featured as well.

Alicia Broderick presenting via Zoom. You can see a woman with long, slightly curly hair, glasses and a light blue top. She is sitting on a sofa or armchair, looking at the camera, smiling while speaking and gesturing. In the background, you can see a tree through a large window.

Free event on Neurodiversity & English language teaching

Teachers, future teachers, teacher educators and anybody else interested is invited to attend a multiplier event by the ELLeN project on June 17th, at Goethe University Frankfurt. The event will include a presentation of IO2, a book of interviews with neurodivergent people and stakeholders at inclusive schools, conducted by university students, a prentation by Aleksander Kanuerhase, and an exchange on the topics of neurodiversity in EFL teaching and in teacher education. Registration is possible via email: r.dieckhoff@em.uni-frankfurt.de.

Kostenfreies Event: Neurodiversität und Englischunterricht: 17.7.2023, 15:30-18:00, Goethe Uni Seminarhaus, SH 6.105 und SH 5.106. Programm: Buchpräsentation, Vortrag des Autismus-Experten Aleksander Knauerhase, Austausch im Themencafé. Anmeldung per Email an R.Dieckhoff@em.uni-frankfurt.de (bis 30.6.)

Transnational Project Meeting at Frankfurt

On May 8th 2023, the project consortiuum met in Frankfurt to discuss current work and upcoming events. Key topics were the publication of IO2 (a book of interviews), finishing of IO3 (a lessons-learned report on inquiry based learning in teacher education), design decisions regarding IO4 (a multimedia material for teacher education), and our key messages for IO5 (accessible multimedia summaries of project results).

Five women, three men and one non-binary persona are standing on a balcony, smiling. Trees in the background.

Networking event at Goethe University Frankfurt

J. Bündgens-Kosten presented the ELLeN project on Friday, April 28th 2023, at an event hosted by Goethe University’s “Forschungsnetzwerks zur Erforschung von Behinderung und Inklusion” (Research Network for the Study of Disability and Inclusion). In this network, researchers from different fields engage in debate about current research and its dissemination.

Screenshot of PPT slides: Das ELLeN Projekt: English Language Learning & Neurodiversity, Dr. Jules Bündgens-Kosten (university & EU logos)

Project Presentation at TU Dortmund

Carolyn Blume presented on September 23rd 2022 at the colloquium of the TU Dortmund’s Institute of Diversity Studies (Link: https://div.kuwi.tu-dortmund.de/) on behalf of the ELLeN Project Team. In keeping with the colloquium’s theme with the title “How to Research Diversity,” she gave a lecture entitled “How to Research Neurodiversity with Pre-Service Teachers.” In this brief presentation, Carolyn summarized the theoretical foundations and practical implementation of the ELLeN Project. Joining researchers from the departments of Rehabilitation Sciences, Social Studies, and the English and German Cultural Studies, Linguistics and Literature Departments, Carolyn’s brief presentation focused on the interplay between method (inquiry-based learning) and content (neurodiversity) in the ELLeN project. In discussion with colleagues, she was able to discuss the connections between this approach to inclusive teacher education and themes of linguistic decolonization, migration experiences, and intersectional narratives. Exploring issues surrounding participative philosophies, methodological challenges, and complex data types, the participants used the opportunity to learn how diversity is constructed – and examined – in various academic fields.

Award-winning teaching within the ELLeN project

On July 1st, Assistant Prof. Dr. Carolyn Blume from TU Dortmund received the “IDEAward” teaching award for her ELLeN-based seminar “Exploring Digitally-Mediated English Usage Among Neurodivergent Learners“. In this seminar, teacher education students interviewed neurodivergent individuals, practicing their research skills while also learning more about the language-learning related needs and experiences of autistic individuals and people with dyslexia and AD(H)D.

The seminar, which was co-taught with Dr. Judith Bündgens-Kosten from Goethe University Frankfurt, drew on input by all ELLeN participants, and featured guest lectures by Aleksander Knauerhase, as well as by Prof. Dr. Michelle Proyer and Prof. Dr. Geert Van Hove. In her acceptance remarks, Carolyn Blume explicitly thanked the many neurodivergent individuals who served as interviewees and who have made this seminar possible.

Developing material for teacher education

One key element of the ELLeN project is the development material that can be used to address the topic of “Neurodiversity in the EFL classroom” in teacher education, drawing on Inquiry Based Learning methods. This winter term, material and concepts will be trialled at University of Vienna, University Dortmund and Goethe University Frankfurt. Several dozen students will work with the material, providing valuable feedback that will be used for future revisions.