Dr Abigail Parrish

Dr Abigail Parrish is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Teacher Development and works on a range of programmes within the school. After a first degree in Modern European Studies from the University of Nottingham, Abigail trained as a modern foreign languages teacher at the University of Sheffield, where she also completed an MA in Applied Professional Studies in Education. Abigail taught French, German, Dutch, English and history at schools in North East Lincolnshire before completing a PhD in Education at the University of York. She has previously taught at undergraduate level and contributed to university Widening Participation schemes.

Abigail’s primary research focuses on student motivation in language lessons, using Self-Determination Theory, and considers this in light of student choice. She has also contributed to research into teacher engagement with research, the use of a computer game in primary French lessons and the impact of undergraduate mentoring programmes in secondary schools, and investigated the teaching of Dutch at a secondary level. She has presented her work at national and international conferences, to both academic and practitioner audiences.


‘Abigail teaches on the Secondary PGCE course, the MA in Education, the MA in Education with TESOL and the BA Linguistics & TESOL, with a focus on education policy and research skills. She is also responsible for the Assessment-only route to QTS for secondary.

Away from BGU, Abigail has run workshops for teachers in Italy on using CLIL (Content & Language Integrated Learning) approaches and has worked with lecturers and trainee teachers at Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University in Thailand.

Abigail’s research is grounded in Self-Determination Theory and her main research interests lie in student motivation in languages and subject choice. She is also interested in teacher engagement with research and teacher workload.

2019: School-level language policy through a student lens. Language Policy Forum, University of Edinburgh

2019: Why do you do your work in language lessons? Exploring student motivation across the year groups. Self-Determination Theory conference, Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands

2018: There’s no such thing as a Brusselo: The Brexit monster looming large over language teaching & learning. Monsters Conference, Bishop Grosseteste University

2018: Which languages? The dilemma of diversifying provision. Language Policy Forum, Sheffield Hallam University

2018: External challenges, internal solutions: Can training providers contribute to steering subjects out of troubled waters? TEAN National Conference, Birmingham

2017: Connecting the dots between head teachers’ language skills, choice and student motivation in modern foreign languages. BERA national conference, Brighton

2017: Should you offer students a choice? Motivation and decision-making in GCSE language study. ResearchED English & MFL conference, Oxford

2016: Languages in schools: The student view. UK language policy after Brexit conference, Sheffield Hallam University

2015: Everyone speaks English anyway: Motivation & learning languages in the English-speaking world. ALAA / ALANZ / ALTAANZ Linguistics Conference, University of South Australia

2015: Everyone speaks English anyway: Motivation & learning languages in the English-speaking world. Languages, Education & Diversity conference, University of Auckland

2015: Foreign language provision and learners’ attitudes in UK schools. The Politics of Teaching & Learning Languages conference, UCL

2015: Do students who have a choice demonstrate higher levels of motivation? ResearchED national conference, London

2014: From Dutch to Diversification. Research students’ education conference, University of Leeds

2012: You as Teacher-Researcher. Invited presentation to MA Applied Professional Studies in Education students, University of Sheffield

Abigail Parrish (2019). Curriculum change in modern foreign languages education in England: barriers & possibilities. The Language Learning Journal. DOI: 10.1080/09571736.2018.1557733

Abigail Parrish & Ursula Lanvers (2019) Student motivation, school policy choices and modern language study in England, The Language Learning Journal, 47:3, 281-298, DOI: 10.1080/09571736.2018.1508305

Parrish, A. & Lanvers, U. (2017, June 29). Let’s use Brexit to stop linguistic complacency. i newspaper.

Parrish, A. & Lanvers, U. (2017). Why just speaking English isn’t going to cut it anymore. The Conversation.

Parrish, A. & Taylor, F. (2014). Beyond the big three: French, German and Spanish aren’t the only languages that matter. The Conversation.

Parrish, A. (2012). Shall we go Dutch? Deutsch Lehren und Lernen, 45, pp. 13-15.

Parrish, A. (2012). Au revoir, le français? TES, Friday, February 24 2012, p. 47

Parrish, A. (2011). Dutch for Experts. Languages Today, 08, p. 11.

Parrish, A. (2011). Double Dutch on the Curriculum. Languages Today, 08, p. 30.

2018: Student motivation, school policy choices and modern language study in England. University of Exeter.