Growing up in a virtually monocultural, monolinguistic part of Northern Ireland, I’d had little if any exposure to other languages before I went for a French taster lesson at my prospective new secondary school at the age of 11. But from that day on I was hooked. The excitement of understanding that I could learn a code that would let me communicate with millions of people who might not speak English has never left me; I’m still fascinated by languages, how we learn them and how we might help people to learn them more effectively.
After studying French and German at St Andrews, including a year in Strasbourg and a term in Berlin, I began my working life as a secondary school foreign language teacher. After ten enjoyable years, and having become more and more involved in teacher education, I moved to Homerton College, Cambridge, to help co-ordinate the languages PGCE course. A final move to the Faculty of Education, where I am now based, has allowed me to continue my involvement with teachers, to work on a wide range of courses related to second language education and to focus my research in the fields of teacher learning, foreign languages pedagogy and languages policy.
My chief research interest has been how people’s beliefs about their capacity for language learning influences their motivation and progression. In particular, the focus has been on how the sociocultural environment (influenced by everything from government policy to school culture) influences such beliefs, and how we might develop pedagogical approaches that benefit and sustain language learning. For the last few years I have been researching metaphor as a way of accessing and shaping beliefs to make them conducive to language learning. The Creative Multilingualism project offers an exciting opportunity to work with Suzanne Graham in Strand 7 to understand whether students’ literacy and motivation are developed when they deal with texts containing figurative and metaphorical language that require them to produce creative and personal responses. The role of metaphor in this process is a key focus, and offers opportunities for collaboration across other strands on this project and with experts worldwide.
Running in parallel with my ongoing attempts to get beyond beginners’ Spanish, I’m looking forward to learning a new language as part of the Creative Multilingualism team challenge, and am leaning towards Norwegian. Spennende tider og spennende muligheter!
Fisher, L. (forthcoming 2016) 'Researching learners' and teachers' beliefs about language using metaphor'. Encyclopedia of Language and Education. Volume 3. US: Springer.
Fisher, L. (2013) 'Discerning Change in Young Students’ Beliefs about their Language Learning through the use of Metaphor Elicitation in the Classroom', Research Papers in Education 28(3), 373-392
Evans, M. and Fisher, L. (2010) 'Translating policy into practice: the impact of the KS3 Framework for MFL on language teaching and learning in schools', Research Papers in Education, 25(4), 479-493
Evans, M. and Fisher, L. (2009) Language Learning at Key Stage 3: The Impact of the Key Stage 3 Modern Foreign Languages Framework and changes to the curriculum on provision and practice. DCSF.