Breen, Paul (PhD alumnus)
My name is Paul Breen and I am from Ireland, although I am currently working in London for the University of East Anglia’s satellite campus managed by INTO University Partnerships
I am responsible for both staff development and the maintenance of a VLE within the organisation. We are a new organisation and at the moment we are building up a team of teachers for our expected expansion in September. I have worked in a range of contexts prior to taking up my current position as Academic Programme Manager. This has included work in one Korean university (Seoul National University of Technology); two London universities (University of Greenwich and the University of East London); a British College of Further Education; and language schools in Tokyo, Australia and Dublin. Prior to my present employment Greenwich was the most architecturally attractive place that I have worked, East London the most diverse, South Korea the most productive in terms of publications and professional development, and Australia both the hottest & coolest. I worked up in Cairns and it was a fantastic experience. One of the classrooms was practically on the edge of a rainforest. At times like that teaching English can be one of the best jobs in the world; also one of the most rewarding when you make a difference to students’ lives as in the case of many students in the University of East London.
Although I did my PGCE in 1999/2000 in Media Studies & English at the University of Huddersfield I went into English Language Teaching with a stint in Tokyo in 2000/2001. Prior to doing teaching I had been involved in creative media and newspapers. At the time of going to Tokyo I had a choice between working for a sixth form College in Manchester and heading off to the exotic land of sushi and hi-tech gadgetry in a time when most of the rest of us were pretty low tech. Although I was tempted by the Manchester prospect, I chose Japan. However, a few years later Manchester was finally to lure me away from the skyscrapers of Asia and back towards its atmospheric lines of red brick houses (that always make me think of Coronation Street) to begin a Masters of Education in Educational Technology and English Language Teaching. This degree was completed by Distance means but during the process of completion I began writing journal articles, attending conferences regularly, and presenting workshops. I would say that this was the first time in my life I became a part of a vibrant English language teaching community which still exists in Korea although I have since returned to this side of the world.
I first came back in the summer of 2006 to teach on pre sessionals at the University of Greenwich and then took up full time work there from 2007 to 2008. It was here that I first became interested in the idea of doing a PhD. The grand historical buildings seemed to fill me with a desire to achieve just a little bit more in educational terms, or perhaps it was the marine/maritime history that sparked me into the voyage of discovery that my subsequent research training has become.
Two years on from that point of embarking on my journey I am here on this blog, finally writing some biographical details less than a fortnight after having my research proposal accepted by the panel. For someone who claims to be a passionate advocate of technology I have been slow to sign up here but that has been because of the amount of work that the panel preparation has involved. I have enjoyed every minute of it so far, to the extent that when I went on a weeks’ holiday to Ireland and Wales last week I missed my PhD work. Mind you, if my supervisor Gary Motteram is reading this, he may well suggest that I should have brought some books to read on the train, boat, buses, and plane journeys that I made in the course of nine days.
But aside from my studies and my work, in my spare time I enjoy using anything associated with technology; I love writing; reading poetry; watching football; watching films when I have free time; and I enjoy travelling to new places especially when that travel includes sailing. I was born in Ireland’s lakeland county, but now I spend most of my ‘boat trip time’ on the Thames in south east London. I also enjoy cooking and gardening but mny skills in both areas are limited. I am usually good though at instructing others to do the work! And coming with creative ideas for both, I have to add. The twin track demands of work and study tends to limit my time to follow these pursuits right now though.
Finally in terms of my research the title of my proposed research is ‘Teachers in transition: a case study of EAP teachers’ applications of blended learning approaches before, during, and after a series of teacher training workshops.’ The aim of this research is to deepen understanding of EAP teachers’ interpretations and applications of blended learning (BL) approaches, and the changes that occur over the course of a teacher training programme. It will look at the decisions made by a select group of teachers with regard to their application of BL while developing academic literacy for students in an English Language Teaching (ELT) setting over the course of a training programme focusing on the integration of new technologies into traditional teaching methods. It fits into a tradition of increasing professionalism in the field of ELT and increased advocacy of action research in the English language classroom and by extension the EAP classroom, as in Jordan (1997) and Wallace (1998). The results generated from the action research process will ultimately be produced in the form of a case study report. The proposed research will take place before, during, and after an in-house training programme on the usage of skill-driven blended learning approaches (Valiathan, 2002) in the EAP classroom. The purpose is to generate a practical framework for professional development in the field of teaching and designing EAP courses in the 21st century. The reason for doing so is the identification of a need to bridge the existing gap between course content offered currently and increasing demand for provision of academic foundation courses to international students.
Recent Publications and Presentations
Spring 2011 – In progress. Breen, P., De Stefani, M. and Kostoulas, A. ‘Navigating a pathway to partnership through turbulent seas of adversity.’ Book chapter in edited publication – Cases on Innovations in Educational Marketing: Transnational and Technological Strategies. United States, IGI Global.
March 2010 – Breen, P. ‘International Collaboration for Technology Enhanced Education in Rwanda.’
Book chapter in Cases on Transnational Learning and Technologically Enabled Environments – Siran Mukerji (IGNOU, India); Purnendu Tripathi (IGNOU, India) (eds). United States, IGI Global. *
ISBN-10: 1615209093 EAN: 9781615209095. Web review accessed at:
March 2010 – Breen, P., De Stefani, M. and Kostoulas, A. ‘Collaboration across continents in a course of doctoral studies and beyond.’ Collaborative project submission for Price Waterhouse Coopers’ Student Team Working Awards 2010.
August 2009 (Publication date) – Breen, P. (2007). ‘Premier English – Conversation textbook for Korean undergraduates.’ Brain House Publishers, South Korea.
Available in INTO UEA London Resource Centre.
September 2008 – Breen, P. International lessons for the digital age.
In: ALT-C 2008 Rethinking the digital divide, 9 – 11 September 2008, Leeds, UK.
Paper written for conference presentation of the same title 9th September 2008.
June 2007 – Breen, P. ‘Lessons from an International e-Learning Project.’
The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 8 (3).
May 2007 – Breen, P. ‘Teaching English for World Citizenship’. KOTESOL Journal 8/5.
April 2007 – Breen, P. ‘Teaching English for World Citizenship’. Global Issues in Language Education Newsletter, Issue 64. Accessed at http://jalt.org/global/newsletter/64globalcitizenship.htm
July 2006 – Breen, P. ‘The Education of Language Teachers in East Asia.’ Asian EFL Journal 13/1
Accessed at: http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/pta_july_06_pb.php
June 2006 – Breen, P. ‘Comparison of attitudes towards computer assisted learning amongst undergraduates on Humanities and Engineering courses in Korea.’ KOTESOL workshop.
March 2006 – Breen, P. ‘Coming out of the darkness of the past.’- Analysis of an online teacher education project in Rwanda. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 7(4).
May 2005 – Breen, P. ‘Two Examples of CALL use in the EFL classroom.’ Asian EFL Journal 6/2.
Accessed at: www.asian-efl-journal.com/pta_august_05_pb.php
Also available in printed form in Asian EFL Journal Teaching Articles 2005.